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Please advise, wise unschoolers.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

My husband is with me regarding unschooling life, even if he is unfamiliar with the term. Our daughter is 17 months old and he is wonderfully uncontrolling and relaxed with her. And yet he still wants to send our daughter to the school half a block a way when the time comes. His explanations why are muddled but I feel i can convince him otherwise, when it comes to the fears about lack of socialization, for example.

But I dont know how to wrap my own mind, much less his, around how to swing it financially. I'm a sahm now and he is temping and going to school for a trade program. But he thinks I will eventually have to work out of home,  when she's school age. We are barely getting by now. We are on food stamps, and sometimes his mom gives us money. He is very uncomfortable with this. But we are surviving. And I believe in about 2 years he will be making more money, due to his trade program. Also, we own our home. No mortgage, just yearly property taxes - about $3000. ( he inherited the house from his grandma)
In my heart i feel it should just work out. We live simply. With a bit more income, we could get by w/out food stamps. If we are living now w me as a sahm, why cant we do it when shes 6? 

How do other families do it? Sometimes i fear its just a privilege of the more privileged classes. Please tell me otherwise. How do you make it work?

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

I guess I CAN wrap my mind around how to swing it financially, but I fear I'm being too much of a dreamer, and not practical enough. Or maybe my husband is overly anxious about creating financial stability. 

 

But I still would love to hear how you make it work.Do you work out of the home at all?

post #3 of 19
Relax. Who knows what the future holds. Enjoy this time, answer your child's questions, and read aloud often. When it is closer to school time, then see where all of you are emotionally and financially. Then you can make better plans.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you. I know I need to relax!

 

I would still love to hear about how others manage to home or unschool financially. 

post #5 of 19

In our case we live frugally, and I personally believe that adds to our learning as well as gets us out of the house, and also has made us explore what is available locally, since there is only so far we can go on foot, on bike and on our very limited local bus service.

 

I have also taken part-time work now and then.  Sometimes I do it from home, sometimes I have to schedule around dh or ask my mom to help. I don't leave dd with my mom that often, in fact I could probably do it more often if I needed to.   I do a lot of volunteer work too - dd takes part sometimes or tags along to play with the other kids of volunteers. 

 

On the whole though, I don't think that homeschooling is in itself more expensive than schooling.   People of various income levels do each of these things in their own ways.

post #6 of 19
We have used libraries and our local bookstore. As long as we were careful and the books could still be sold, we could read them (no creasing spines). Also, I helped another homeschooling mom with 5children when she took them places occasionally, and she had a family plus 2guests pass. Then we (my son and I) got to go in for free. Walk to as many places as you can, saving gas money. It counts as PE as well. There's other ways to save money that are not specifically homeschool related. Check the other threads in this forum.
post #7 of 19

No, you don't need to have anything special financially.  We are just like anyone else.  I stay home so we do have to be a bit more frugal.  Just because you unschool doesn't mean you can't work.  You can work out of the home and your daughter can learn from that.  You can work outside of the home but work opposite shifts from your husband.  I have a couple of friends who do that.  Homeschooling doesn't cost a lot if you don't let it.  With unschooling you don't need to buy a set curriculum.  You can go to the library for books, museums, hiking, running, playing...everything around you is learning.  Life is learning.  Maybe you could start reading unschooling blogs.  I would like to say time is on your side but I am the same as you and I like info way before I do something.  It is fun to get excited about it! :)

post #8 of 19

We take it in turns to work.  DH is a gardener, so that can mean working 7 days a week in the summer.  Hoping eventually to trade babysitting so we can work on the same day.  We are self-employed, so every now and again I have taken my girls to work for a short while with me on specific jobs.  When they are older we can take them both on to some of dh's jobs.  The girls get an allowance (small) and are learning the ins-and-outs of making money.  I have indeed paid them to work when they come to one of my jobs.  They like that.  They have their own ideas for making money--dogsitting, babysitting, farm stand, pony riding lessons (a dime each orngtongue.gif).

 

Even if you were to have a more classical style, kindy/first grade does not have much to purchase. Most can be found in the library.  The girls love dh's "math tests" he makes for them.  USing, HSing does not need to cost much, certainly not more than what you spend already.

 

FWIW, we are not on food stamps, but money is really tight.  The girls are learning about the give-and-take of money.  

post #9 of 19

As a single unschooling mama, I have had to be creative at times over the years. I had home businesses for years - until the Dumplings were old enough to stay home alone. For a few years, I made baby clothes and sold at craft fairs and at local shops. The kids participated in both production and sales. We dreamed of traveling the national craft show circuit year round in an RV, but never were able to make that happen. Wouldn't that have been a great unschooling life? Now the Dumplings are teens, and I work out of the home, but very flexible hours.

 

I never felt that unschooling cost anything at all, beyond what life in general costs. I have always had zoo and museum memberships, but I would do that even if the kids went to school. I am a complete book addict, so I would have been a regular at libraries and bookstores in any case. I consider "school supplies" a regular life expense - we need pencils and paper year 'round, not a huge pile in September. And we save hundreds in new "school clothes" every year!
 

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your replies. I don't know anyone yet irl who has made the unschooling or even homeschooling choice. It is way out there in the minds of my inlaws and my family. To me it makes complete and beautiful sense. So far the main resistance from my husband has been the financial angle. His (understandable) anxiety has been making me nervous. I just appreciate your responses a lot.

post #11 of 19

I am a single Mom on an extremely tight income and I unschooled my son up until his unschool graduation this past June. If you are interesting in coaching, I would be happy to work with you and your husband so that your daughter can learn naturally rather than go to school. Unschooling is actually far less costly than public school, not only in money, but also in the damage done to children and to the parent-child relationship when children are in school. You can find me at LaurieACouture dot com.
 

post #12 of 19

The libary and the great outdoors are our best unschooling tools.  Public schools require so many more school supplies than we use at home.  The supplies that we do like to have on hand (paper, pencils and various craft/art supplies) I always find at our fav. thrift store or on clearance after the public school year has started.  Our local Teacher's Aide store has a homeschooling section which is used and sometimes I can just trade what I have for what I need.  We are all about free learning experiences and I think you'll find that no matter where you live there are plenty of interesting free opportunities for your homeschooler.  I agree with PP.  Check out some library books about homeschooling.  Our conservative community even has "The Unschooling Handbook" at our library!  Reading about it helps calm your nerves AND gives you talking points when discussing homeschooling with family and friends who think you are crazy to even consider the idea.  Good luck! 

post #13 of 19

Where I live we are the only financially comfortable homeschoolers/unschoolers we know. The others are on social assistance, disability insurance or otherwise living well below the poverty line. Two are single moms; another family has seven living on the odd-job income of two adults. I teach violin to a number of their kids: we do so largely by barter. I see them making a curriculum out of whatever is free in our community. Community events, work bees, the library, the outdoors, clubs, presentations, outreach programs, and so on. A lot of these things aren't specifically for kids, but because they're free, these unschoolers, mostly in the 7-11 age-range, take advantage of them. For instance, we have a community-supported set of Japanese-style gardens, and every Wednesday evening a group of volunteers meets to do weeding and other maintenance. There's an incredible wealth of interests, knowledge and passions amongst the volunteers, and the kids who help out there have learned so much by being there amongst what is just a general volunteer group, not specifically an Educational Opportunity for Children. Other volunteers have got to know them and often take the kids under their wings, offering to share their passions with them. If there's a blurb in the newspaper about an Art in the Park exhibition you can bet those kids are there, talking to the artists, watching them work. If there's an informational talk by the local Eco-Society, they'll be there. If there's a free or by-donation sitar concert, they'll be in the audience. They know the historical sites, exhibits and free museums in our area inside and out. They help their moms volunteer at the local thrift shop. They hike the trails around our area all summer and can identify soapberry and wild ginger and nettle. 

 

Make it your job to find out all the things that your community offers for free. If you have a library (we don't, alas), start there: find out what it offers, and utilize it fully and deeply. Let your community, its free resources, the people in it, their interests, and your child's affinities for the things that surround her shape her learning. 

 

Miranda

post #14 of 19

Almost every homeschooling mom I know with a child above the age of 12 works for a paycheck, either outside the home or as a WAHM.  I actually saw a government study that showed that homeschoolers in the US are more likely to be two-income households than non-homeschoolers.  

 

Homeschooling doesn't mean that you will never bring in a paycheck.  Right now I'd recommend you focus on the short-term.  

post #15 of 19

Hello Lamb :)

 

I am at home, with no cash-income while my man works at a job for our cash-income. We have five children. Right now, we are moving over 7000kms away from where we live, because we foresaw the difficulties with remaining where our cash-income would not be enough for very long. My man took a second job during the days (his career job happens overnights) to buy an acreage for us to live on. It is vacant, and we will build a winter cabin there until spring next year, when we will build our permanent home. The second job only pays for the land, and we use every penny of the first job paycheques for sustenance. Our food bill each month has increased from 40% to 55% of that income each month, just over the last year. Our housing cost is very low presently because we built it ourselves, buying lumber slowly over the course of a few years and living in the space that was built until we could finish another room. Now, it no longer makes sense to stay here doing this, so we are going to start again (with so much more experience and skills!).

 

My point is that it might not work the way you are living right now. We have had a goal to build our own home on an acreage for ten years, and during that time, we equipped ourselves with skills and knowledge to do it. I used to suffer badly from chronic illness, which slowed everything down, but I still think ten years to get to this point is pretty good, given where we were ten years ago. We have only briefly exited the the line of poverty, but more importantly, I have balanced our finances and learned to trade our dollars for the best value possible. We eat a lot of coconut oil, and we were paying $100/gallon (we live very remotely and most of that cost was shipping). I found a way to get the coconut oil we need but for much less, saving us over $2000 over the course of a year. I try to buy all the best quality foods I can, but in bulk and at the best rate. The cost is a lot of time and effort on my part, but I am happy to do this. My time and effort are worth more than the dollars, but the dollars are more limited a resource than my time presently.

 

To live the way we want to, we spent ten years working slowly toward being able. We have learned to widen our definition of "money" to include the work of our hands and gifts from the Earth. By that I mean that presently, my man works a solid four months for just the meat portion of our diet, whereas if he hunts three large animals each year, taking a maximum of one week each time, then it takes both of us a week to properly butcher, prepare and preserve each animal (we don't have refrigeration), then that's six weeks for the same amount of food that it takes him four months to gain through cash-income. In our case, meat is MUCH more valuable money than dollars are. 

 

Also, given the cost of living where we are moving, my man's wages can drop to only a third of what they are now, and we'd be in exactly the same financial situation, giving him so many more options to choose a job that fulfils him as a priority over what pays the best. In other words, if we hunt and butcher our meat (among a lot of other things, but just as one example), and he earns only a third of the cash he does now, we will be wealthier than we are now.

 

Aside from the investment advice, the book Your Money or Your Life can be very helpful in calculating exactly what the cost of a job is, the real wage as opposed to amount on the paycheque, and also for inspiring the reader to consider ways that other resources are actually money, and sometimes much richer sources of it than cash currency.

 

It can be done. We're seven living on one very modest income.

 

ETA: We live in a very high cost of living area presently, which is also remote. We will be moving to a low cost of living area and to a remote acreage that happens to also be only 6 minutes away from a port town, and twenty for a main one. It is ideal, and we waited and watched for this opportunity to arise. And it did! :)


Edited by ImogenSkye - 8/13/12 at 4:56pm
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

I appreciate your thoughtful response and I'm sorry that I just found it today. I am not on MDC too frequently.

post #17 of 19
Hi lamb! Do you live in Portland, as your name suggests? If so, it would seem you are in a great place for unschooling. With mostly pleasant temps and cultural diversity, you need to do little more than wander about town for lots of enrichment and learning.

Regardless of location, if you are making it on your current income and husband is projected to earn more in a few years, you should be fine. We used Medicaid for the first few years and managed to have a healthy diet and a membership to our local children's museum that kept us content. I never have earned an income, and my husband supported us on an income in the low to mid 30k per year range. Fortunately, he has worked his way into a lower middle class income by now. Our kids are 4.5 and 1.5, and we plan to unschooling both. We live in a high COL city, but have the advantage of warm weather most of the year, along with myriad enrichment opportunities laid before us for little or no cost.

It sounds to me like you will be able to make it
Work. Time is on your side.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you! We are actually moving to NY (Long Island) to be near family, in early summer. We have good reasons, and my husband will be attending a trade program there. But I am worried about the family/social pressure around traditional schooling that we'll face.

Anyway, I totally appreciate the info you shared. Especially since you are in a high cost of living area! That's what we'll be in for sure! But of course there will be so much culture to immerse in too....
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by LambcameraPDX View Post

Thank you! We are actually moving to NY (Long Island) to be near family, in early summer. We have good reasons, and my husband will be attending a trade program there. But I am worried about the family/social pressure around traditional schooling that we'll face.

Anyway, I totally appreciate the info you shared. Especially since you are in a high cost of living area! That's what we'll be in for sure! But of course there will be so much culture to immerse in too....

Just join a bunch of homeschool/unschool groups and hang out with homeschoolers & unschoolers all of the time.  Soon enough, you will be surprised when you meet people who send their kids of to school!  My children are always so surprised when they meet some kid who goes to school...like it's such an alien concept!  We are surrounded with homeschoolers (there are not many unschoolers besides us in our area), my children's birthday parties have dozens of homeschooled attendees, all of our adult friends are homeschool parents, etc.  It becomes the norm.  Just go ahead and do that for yourselves, too, even before your child is school age.  It will help your husband to see all the benefits, the great children that result from such a lovely lifestyle and all the normal, fascinating and professional people who also choose to unschool and homeschool their children.  It won't seem like an odd decision to him, by that point.  

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