While the educational environment may be changing during COVID-19, our job as parents to teach our children has not. And for many families, this means we have chosen to take on homeschooling our kids.
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This change is not only a massive shift for us, but also for our children. If you are choosing to homeschool your kids during COVID-19, you have to learn the best ways to effectively teach them the curriculum, all the while still working your job. And you have to figure out how to homeschool your kids safely at the same time.
For a lot of us, this can be a huge undertaking! Luckily there is an expansive amount of resources out there to help. So, I wanted to get you some of the best advice to homeschool your kids safely during COVID-19 and take a little bit of the weight off of your shoulders and keep your money in your wallet.
How to save money while homeschooling your kids during COVID-19
According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), the average cost in taxpayer dollars to send one child to public school is $11,732. But each homeschooled child only costs $600 annually to educate. Of course, most people don’t notice the former costs since they are taken out of their taxpayer dollars. But that is still a really large chunk of change just to send one child to school!
So, you can see how much less it already costs to homeschool one child rather than send them to public school. But, that average $600 comes directly out of your pocket. So most of us tend to feel it more. However, there are some great ways to homeschool your kids for much less.
Free homeschooling resources
One of my favorite resources is Khan Academy. This platform is completely free, but you can donate money if you choose to. You can sign up as a teacher or parent and then add your children as your students. They have a huge list of classes by topic and age group. You can click on the class you are interested in having your child take and it will give you a more thorough rundown of the subject matter. This way you can pick and choose which classes are the best fit for each kid.
Once you enroll your kids in one of your classes, you can assign them work (with specific due dates) from each class. You can see what they have completed and click on each test or quiz to see what they got incorrect. This makes it easier for you to determine what areas you may need to focus on more. You can also sign up for a weekly report for each class and some classes offer SAT prep sections also. This is one of my absolute favorite free homeschooling tools!
However, if you have kids that are in higher-level grades, EdX is another great free tool. This is a platform used by a few prestigious universities and large corporations to offer free courses at the college level. The XSeries program is what you want to look for. But, you can also enroll your child in a Certificate Program if you want proof of their completion. This option costs money, whereas the XSeries is free.
The XSeries option works perfectly fine for me since I don’t feel that my kids will need the certificate option. Just note that the topic range isn’t as diverse with EdX as it is with Khan Academy. If you have a high schooler, it might be great to combine the two resources for extra diversity in learning platforms and subject matter.
Reducing the costs for homeschooling necessities
Depending on where you live, your state or county may have different rules regarding what you have to do to legally homeschool your child. In my state, one of the main parameters is that each homeschooled child must take a standardized test each year to show progress. While the list of standardized tests is vast, we have found the California Achievement Test (CAT) to be one of the most extensive and budget-friendly out there.
Usually, each test costs $25, but throughout the year they run specials as low as $15 per test. These tests can be administered online with a timed or untimed option. The results get sent to you, as the administrator, once your child takes the test. I have found the CAT exams extremely useful when it comes to figuring out which areas need to be focused on for the upcoming year because of how in-depth the results are.
Another place where costs can easily be reduced is with clothing. Since your children won’t be in school with other classmates, they don’t need to have as many cool back-to-school clothes to impress their peers. With most kids communicating via video chat this school year, you can easily get away with only purchasing a few shirts, instead of a whole ensemble. That is bound to save you a lot of money right out of the gate!
You also won’t need to purchase lunch boxes either. Plus, since your kids won’t be buying school lunch or packing their lunch, this is another savings category. While the average cost to buy school lunch differs, it runs around $2.50 per lunch per child. If your child brings their lunch, the average cost per lunch runs around $1.60 instead.
But, eating lunch at home can cost even less because you don’t need the individual servings or packaging. And these items cost more money to buy than bulk food choices. Therefore, eating at home usually costs much less money per meal than either of these options. Plus, there are many ways you can lower your food bill and have your kids eat healthy for an even bigger win!
Some of the supplies, like headphones and laptops/tablets are going to cost you more money. But, the rest of the school supplies will actually cost you a whole lot less.
Also, you generally won’t need things like backpacks, pencil cases, binders, and reams of paper. Just eliminating these items from your supply list can save you a bunch of money right away. You can utilize what you already have on hand first and then purchase other items as needed throughout the year. This gives you and your kids more room to get creative with your existing supplies while also saving money at the same time.
And don’t forget to utilize your local library for educational materials. This is one of the best free resources out there!
What steps should you take in order to make your home a safe environment for homeschooling and/or microschooling?
First things first, if you are considering homeschooling or microschooling you need to ensure that your students have a safe environment to learn in. If you are choosing to homeschool your kids, that will be a bit easier than if you choose to microschool.
Microschooling has a larger number of kids involved, so the safety precautions need to be a bit more in-depth in order to protect everyone to the best of your ability. Either way, there are a few things you can do to create a safer environment in your home for any children attending your alternative school.
When you are organized, it makes everything much easier to handle. Start out with a properly organized environment in your classroom. Here are some tips:
- Set up one or two designated spaces in your home for a classroom.
- Use designated bins to organize learning materials.
- Have a basket for each child to deposit their learning materials into once they are done using them for the day.
If you can start with these few organizational tips, it will really help increase the safety of the learning environment, and your sanity.
With everything going on in the world today with the pandemic, proper cleaning is critical. Even if you are homeschooling your children only, their safety is of utmost importance. But it is even more important if you have any children other than your own in your home.
If a child that has been entrusted into your care gets sick, you could be liable. And because the total cost of getting COVID-19 can be so high, that could possibly cost you thousands. But this doesn’t even include the guilt associated with the child getting sick on your watch.
Therefore, making sure everything is properly cleaned and sanitized every day is crucial. Some tips to help make sure everything is cleaned properly are:
- Use sanitizing cleaner on all door handles and seating areas daily.
- Empty each student’s basket at the end of every day and thoroughly sanitize each item in it.
- Clean and sanitize any eating areas or bathrooms daily.
- Check and refill all soap dispensers daily.
- Make sure to have clean towels or paper towels stocked daily.
Making sure that your proper cleaning procedures are followed daily can help ensure the wellness of your students and yourself.
Having separate workstations isn’t something that may be necessary if you are homeschooling your children only. But, if you have any other children being taught in your home, then you should consider setting up separate workstations.
Following the six feet apart rule could potentially be difficult, depending upon your classroom set-up and how many students you have. But, if you are considering microschooling, this should be a huge consideration in your plan prior to implementing anything for safety purposes.
If you are unable to reach the six-foot distance, then you have a few different options to help reduce the risk.
- Providing masks for those children who will be in closer proximity can help with potential exposure.
- Stagger the kids that will be working in the same area to different times and clean thoroughly in between.
- If you have an outdoor area you can use for teaching, this may be a great solution also. When the weather is cooperative, of course.
No matter which options you choose, get creative with the structuring of separate workstations.
Another cost to consider: your homeowners insurance
If you make the leap to any alternative schooling methods, you should take your homeowners insurance into consideration. A lot of this will come down to what your policy currently covers first, though. You will want to make sure that you have enough coverage in the fire, personal property, and accident categories.
Also, if you are using a freestanding garage or shed as your homeschool area, you will want to confirm that your current homeowners insurance policy covers damage to those.
Most regular homeowners insurance policies will have enough basic coverage. The best way to know if you have enough coverage is to discuss your current policy with an agent to see where any gaps may be.
Lemonade and Young Alfred are a few companies that offer very affordable homeowners insurance coverage.
Lemonade offers a unique insurance model, where any money paid in by customers that is not used for claims is donated to a charity of your (and other customers) choosing.
Young Alfred, on the other hand, lets you compare multiple rates from some of the leading insurers on the market – so it’s a great place to start your search.
Do you need liability insurance if you are going to participate in microschooling?
If you choose to go the microschooling route, you will be putting yourself in a riskier financial position. Whenever you choose to begin operating a business, you should always consider the liability aspect of what you are engaging in.
And since microschooling is a hybrid form of homeschooling and in-person traditional school, this could be considered a higher risk situation. Therefore, even if you bump up your homeowners insurance to the highest levels, it would be wise to consider adding a separate liability insurance policy also.
A business liability insurance policy can help to mitigate any liabilities run through the business. In this case, the entire microschooling program would fall under this umbrella.
Allstate is a fantastic option as they offer small business insurance policies. These policies can include things such as:
- Business interruption coverage.
- Business property coverage.
- Errors and omissions coverage.
- General liability coverage.
- Outdoor property coverage.
How much coverage, or which options you need, will determine how much your small business policy costs. Usually, these policies aren’t too expensive and they are well worth it for safety and peace of mind. Therefore, if you haven’t considered adding liability insurance yet, you should certainly look into it. Your kids, business, and wallet will thank you!
Deciding to homeschool your kids during COVID-19 is a huge decision. And with that decision comes a lot of potential safety hazards and costs to consider. But, if you have decided to homeschool or microschool your kids, it can certainly be done safely and much more budget-friendly.
Seriously consider all of the options and ramifications prior to jumping in. Once you have looked at every angle, and all potential free resource, and gotten any extra insurance needed to protect yourself and your family, then happy homeschooling!