Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
I planted several jalapeno peppers for the first time this year. I am now getting a lot of peppers. I have made salsa and chopped some up and froze them for future use this winter. Do you have any other ideas? I try not to waste food.
I’d suggest drying them. I know you that you can do this in a low oven, so you don’t necessarily need a dehydrator. I even think my parents might have dried them on screens in the hot summer attic, with a fan blowing.
Once they’re dried, you can use them like you would crushed red pepper from the spice section.
Also, do you like poppers? A batch of two of those could use up a lot of jalapenos.
I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to go about starting family worship time with my husband? We’ve only been married a year, but neither of us come from families where anything more than meal time and bedtime prayers occurred. We’ve been working on building our relationship with each other and our relationships with God, but we haven’t figured out how to combine them yet. Can you make any suggestions? We’d really like to establish a daily (or at least weekly) “God time” before we start having kids.
I think it’s great that you guys want to start a habit that will help you grow in your faith together…good for you.
Practically speaking, I find that it’s always easiest to do something like this at a time in your day that’s predictable. For instance, doing it right after breakfast, right before or after dinner, or right before bed might help you to be consistent, as long as those times in your day are predictable (obviously the appropriate time for you may be different, but just pick a time that tends to be the same every day.)
Also, don’t let yourselves get totally derailed every time something comes up. Sometimes we don’t manage to get family worship done with the kids due to an appointment or travel, but that’s no reason to throw the towel in. We just try to get back in the groove of things as soon as possible.
I’m not sure if you’re looking for suggestions about what to include in your time, but do know it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can pray together, read the Bible together, or read a Christian book together, for example.
I’ve been homeschooling my oldest daughter for preschool since she was 2, and this year we are informally working on kindergarten materials even though she’s only 4.5. I’ve been using inexpensive activities, work books, and lots of free Internet resources to gather curricula – as well as utilizing our public library system.
I’ve recently made the mistake of looking on homeschooling blogs via pinterest for ideas and suddenly, I’m feeling super inadequate. I am having a very hard time curbing the feeling that if I don’t have an unlimited homeschooling budget, I’m somehow harming my kids with a less-than-noteworthy education experience. I’ve tried reminding myself that my methods seem to be working and my daughter is thriving and excelling this way, but there is a nagging voice in my head saying my efforts won’t be good enough until I have a whole classroom in my home or brand new textbooks or a four-year-old entering college.
I guess my questions are as follows: How do you deal with the temptation to overspend on homeschooling supplies? Have you ever felt inadequate with homeschooling because of the way other people do it? Do you ever worry that approaching homeschooling frugally is hindering the learning experience?
Good question…this is a challenge that homeschoolers back in the 80s didn’t really face because back then, there were so few curriculum choices.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way, and there’s a plethora of options for each subject and grade. It’s completely overwhelming.
Here are a few things that have helped me navigate these confusing waters.
- I remind myself that no school (public, private, or home) uses THE perfect curriculum for every subject for every kid.
Sometimes, I think we homeschoolers are comparing ourselves to something that doesn’t exist. Even the best private school in your area might not be using the curriculum that’s perfect for your child, or that’s the latest and greatest. So, we shouldn’t feel like we somehow have to do this whole thing perfectly or we’ll screw up our kids.
- I remind myself that there is more than one good curriculum available.
For instance, when you’re shopping for handwriting books, it’s not like there’s one awesome book, and 9,872 horrible ones. Probably a good percentage of the handwriting books out there would do just fine, so don’t stress about it if you can’t afford the most expensive one.
(speaking of handwriting, I like Handwriting Without Tears, and it’s actually quite affordable.)
- I remind myself that parental interaction is the most consistent key to educational success.*
Whether the schooling method is public, private, or home, studies have shown that parental involvement is the most important factor in a child’s educational success. Good curriculum is helpful, yes, but it’s not the make-or-break factor…YOU are.
If you’re involved in what your child is learning, if you can discuss it with her at the dinner table and tie it into things you experience in everyday life, you’re in a great spot to help her learn, even if your curriculum isn’t the most super fabulous expensive thing out there.
*I read this in a book on education whose title utterly escapes me at the moment. The author’s point was that a child can excel in many types of educational settings as long as the parents are involved and engaged.
- I ask other homeschool moms (esp. those with kids older than mine) for recommendations.
In my experience, homeschoolers tend to be a pretty frugal bunch (a lot are one-income families with a fairly large number of children), so other moms are a great resource. They know what works and what doesn’t, what’s worth spending money on and what’s not.
And, if you’re fortunate, older homeschooling families might be able to give you some hand-me-down materials.
Lastly, if you need advice on obtaining curriculum cheaply, check out my post about how I save on school supplies.)
Readers, feel free to share your thoughts on these questions! Jill especially is hoping that you’ll be able to suggest ways to use up her jalapenos.
Joshua’s 365 post: Dawn