Back to school. Three little words that carry a lot of weight. For kids, it may be the anxiety of a new class and new teacher. For parents, it may be the chunk this time of the year will take out of their checkbook.

No doubt, August is notoriously an expensive month for parents. School clothes, school supplies, registration fees, and extra curriculum activity fees. If you homeschool, add on all the costs of curriculum and you feel like all you see is dollar signs everywhere you look!

I’m all about a bargain and always on the lookout for a good deal. So here are a few of my personal tips for saving money this time of the year.

  • Recycle clothing fundraiser – have your kids go through their closets and take out all that no longer fits them. If they are in relatively good shape, take pictures of them, write up a description, and list the items for sale on eBay. In no time, you will raise money to purchase clothes for the new school year.
  • Look for retailer coupons – this time of year many retailers offer free cash if you spend a certain amount. Look for sale or clearance items and once you combine that savings with the retailer’s additional coupon, you’ve gotten a great deal!
  • Buy/sell used curriculum – if you homeschool, take advantage of the many places you can buy and sell your used curriculum. Check out these places online: eBay, HSLDA’s Curriculum Market, or Educational Accents.
  • Join a Buyers co-op – for homeschool families, check out online the Homeschool Buyers Co-op ( that enables you to get deep discounts just like school districts receive.

For additional ideas, check out Good Morning America’s segment on Back to School Bargains for 2011.

Whatever you do, don’t fret … the bargains are around!


Spring break is finally here! It’s a time when so many embark on wonderful vacations to disconnect from a nearly finished school year.

We, on the other hand, are stay-home-spring-break-disconnectors. My daughter and I sat down to discuss what we wanted to do this week on our break. The verdict? No schedule. No plan. No thinking. Sure we have a few activities we’d like to do somewhere along the way, but mainly we’re just going with the unplan theme.

During our homeschool year, we keep a specific schedule and routine. My daughter and I are both schedule people so we tend to live by a plan during each school day. But there are times needed to let go of the calendar, to-do lists, and schedule …  and just be. For us, this week will be one of those times.

Life clips along so quickly. Without even trying, constant stressors bombard us. The reality is, we all need time to decompress and let go of the worries and concerns of the day. So go ahead … unplan, let go, decompress, and don’t feel guilty–we’re just filling up our tanks.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,

of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear,

and not bothering.” – Pooh’s Little Instruction Book


At times being my daughter’s homeschool teacher in addition to being mom creates a few challenges. I want more than anything to be her cheerleader, but as her teacher I still need to be constructive in her learning. Most of the time I juggle it alright, but other times it gets a little messy.

One of the greatest things I learned when we started homeschooling was how each of us processes information differently. I wished I discovered the information sooner! There is a gem of a book that I have listed in my Resource section called “The Way They Learn,” by Cynthia Tobias. Whether you homeschool or not, this book will help you discover your learning styles and I assure you it will help in your communication as a family.

My daughter and I’s minds work differently. I’m very concrete and sequential–there is step 1, 2, and 3 and they go in that order (most of the time). My daughter is also concrete but very random–even though fully aware of the steps, the order they fall is not so important because her way might work better and faster. I loved Algebra in school, she hates it. I can understand why … random and Algebra don’t mix.

But sometimes regardless of information, communication just fails! Right now in one class, we are working through library skills such as computer catalogs and indexes. One of the assignments provided a catalog entry and then asked a variety of questions about the supplied information. When I read one of my daughter’s answers, I knew she wasn’t being sarcastic; she just answered the question with her literal mind.

Question: How would you type the author’s name in the computer?

Her answer: With your hands

Isn’t communication like that sometimes? A complete miss. All I could do was laugh!