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shinyhappypeople

Low Income People and Extracurriculars

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When I say low-income I'm talking 150% of FPL or below.

 

How do you manage it? Do you just NOT do extracurriculars?

 

As I plot to extricate my family from our homeschool charter this is the one issue that stops me. Can I responsibly send my kids to music lessons, sports, etc. (all told, $150/mo) when we're barely able to save for retirement? (Answer: no, I would feel so guilty and irresponsible)

 

Why not just stay with the charter that pays for almost everything curriculum and activity related (Answer: because I can't give older DD the gift of time and working at her own pace as long as I stay with them.)

 

BUT, these activities are important to my kids. I think they enrich their lives in many ways, and I'm grateful they can participate.

 

I need to find a way to make this work. How do YOU do it?

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I'd like to know, also.

 

Since our girls are young, we are currently just doing 1 extra activity: soccer. We go through the YMCA and they give scholarships to low-income families.

 

I would LOVE to do gymnastics for my oldest and art for my youngest. And an instrument for both... But those are just not in the budget right now...

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We are very poor right now. My husband's job will change next year and we will make 2x that much but for right now it's hard.

 

If I were in your situation I would see if there is someone at your church (if you attend) that might be willing to help you teach your kids music lessons in exchange for something....be creative...house cleaning, babysitting, tutoring their kids.

 

I really want to send my daughter to gymnastics or dance because she needs to get massive amounts of energy out but because we are so poor it is McDonalds play place a few times a week, and no we don't order a happy meal.

 

Hopefully your situation will change within a year also. If you think you will perpetually be in this state I would try a small part time job at night or weekends. I have considered this many times but my husband is on call too much to get any sort of real schedule.

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The freedom to choose how I teach, when I teach, and what methods I use to teach, the ability to make different choices any time I need to, and to have jammy days or Disneyland days in the middle of the week just because, would trump the money I'd get from a public charter school for extras.

 

We managed Highland dance for dds (and later, ballet), which is actually more than I ever did as a child, and I lived to tell about it. :-)

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Very low-income right now here too. The only thing we do is Scouts - they offer scholarships for activities :D Plus dd can sell cookies & nuts and raise funds that way.

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Can you only pull the one child who would be better served by a different schedule, and leave the other(s) with the charter?

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I'll have to look into the YMAC scholarships. We don't even remotely have enough money to even put away for retirement! We look for free things. Our library has some good programs, like a chess club. Our town got a grant for lego clubs. I know my kids would absolutely love to participate in some specific activities (ds-karate, dd-gymnastics, dd-dance), but that is not my reality. We are working towards a "better" reality, but until it is here we make do with what we have.

 

As for energy levels, we get outside and do nature walks, use public playgrounds, walk to as many places as possible (e.g. library, parks), and just playing in the back yard for at least an hour every day.

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Look up dual enrollment in your state. It's possible you could dual enroll in the charter school and do homeschool. Your kids could attend fine arts and P.E. classes at the school and you could teach the core subjects at home.

 

Also, many "online school" alternatives are cropping up that work with charter schools to provide distance learning programs. For example, the school receives funding for your student, they may in turn offer modest reimbursements for curriculum and expenses that you obtain to homeschool which you may be able to use for gymnastics or music lessons.

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My kids have always been in extracurriculars, we have always been dirt poor. I barter for lessons. When they took gymnastics I cleaned the gym, for every 8 hour shift I put in cleaning 1 child got a semester of free gymnastics. I cleaned it 8 times and all 4 kids got a full year of free gymnastics. I do bingos, and fundraising and serve on boards to reduce or eliminate fees. For some activities that can not lower fees I apply for kidsport which gives $200 per kid per year for qualified people. Years like this year where 1 sport is super expensive(dance) I offset with free activities (cadets and youth group/kids church). The dance I have worked out a payment arrangement for paying the fees. Basically if we want to try something I talk to them about how the kids can try it without taking food off the table. 9/10 they are willing to work with me to have the kids join in.

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I know it is ROUGH out there! I was advisor of a great high school program for 3 years and the $250 participation fee was a killer for so many families; we were constantly fundraising! BEST of luck in finding creative solutions; below are a few I could think of. Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

- Many museums and zoos often have a free day each week, or a free day once a year.

 

- If you go as part of a school group, you can often get free or greatly discounted entry to museums and other activities. Gather together some other homeschoolers and be a school group!

 

- Look for online printable coupons to various museums, etc.

 

- What about asking for a year's family membership as a gift from grandparents? AND, some museums are part of a "swap" program that if you buy membership to one, several others will honor it and give you free entry.

 

- Would a friend or relative be willing/able to "sponsor" one of your children's music or sports activities?

 

- Barter or swap services for music lessons (house cleaning while the lesson is going on, a meal a week, childcare, etc.)

 

- If you're allowed to participate in the public school's sports or music programs as a homeschooler, check and see what the school's policies are for their own low-income families -- they may have scholarships.

 

- YMCA offers scholarships to low-income families for their programs (includes sports, Youth in Government, Model U.N., and other programs depending on the branch of the YMCA)

 

- How about fundraising? Go in with 4-5 other homeschool families also looking to raise funds and split the proceeds from an event. (Carwash; yard sale (collect stuff to sell from friends and neighbors); sell coupons to a business and receive a portion of the sales for your fundraising; raffle -- especially if all the families are fundraising for the same activity, a few businesses may be willing to donate some gift certificates for you to raffle off, as it is free advertising for them...)

 

- Are any of the DC old enough to set up a regular job with some neighbors to earn the fee for the sports or activity? (walking neighbor dogs, doing the daily clean-up of dog litter, skimming debris from pools, mowing lawns, pulling weeds...)

 

- If DC are a little older, can you hire your family to do door-to-door flyer distribution on Saturday mornings with some near-by businesses? As a family you could cover a whole neighborhood pretty quickly.

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Scouts, Girl Scouts/Guides generally are very willing to help if you can't afford them but your kids want to go. When I was a leader it was frustrating knowing the help was there but that there were parents who didn't know or wouldn't ask.

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If you can save for retirement your doing pretty darn good imo. Were at 100% of the FPL, when we did do things like Karate in exchange I worked at his ranch 2 mornings a week pulling weeds in the nursery. Parks and rec has scholarships for some activities. We generally don't do things like that though because of the cost of gas which makes even a free activity out of our budget unless its in walking distance (no public transit here). It may only be a few miles bit it adds up quickly and that extra $20 or what ever in gas a month is just not doable when you can't even afford the basics most months without serious couponing and sales and even though its tough. I loved the charter we used last year that paid for all the extras:)

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I know many places provide scholarships for things like this. My boys attended a pricey summer camp at a private school we could never afford. :lol: A woman there who is a public school teacher and who is married to a man in the Navy was able to get a full scholarship for her child based on financial need. I'm sure not all of them are this lenient, but you may be surprised. I know our local recreation center offers things like this as well.

 

Aside from that one summer, all we do is piano lessons. Perhaps you could get someone to trade off for a service you could provide?

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We were just discussing this last week. I want to put Asher into swimming, but it's $95 a month. DH said there's no way we can do that, because the other two will want to do something and that will be $300 a month. So, I think I'm going to start doing children's photography and/or tutoring, just enough to pay for extracurriculars :glare:. Is it possible to do a small job at home to make enough?

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Many of the activities/schools around here have scholarships. They are generally based on the guidelines for subsidized/free lunch. If your income would qualify your child for subsidized/free lunch then you qualify for scholarships. The percentage of aid you get depends on how much of a subsidy you qualify for. If you qualify for 85% subsidy, then you qualify for 85% scholarship.

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We limit their extracurricular activities, and shop around for the best prices. For example, one fencing academy wanted $125 monthly for ds11 to take lessons. I found another fencing academy that offers "homeschoolers" fencing lessons at only $7 weekly, plus the kids and moms help tidy up the studio space.

 

I also grade papers as a side job, which helps pay for extras.

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We were not doing well for two years.

 

You would be amazed how many things can be free, or how you can work things out.

 

For piano, I cleaned my piano teacher's house for 6 months. At the time she was pregnant with her fourth child, so it ended up being a very welcome and helpful blessing to her, even though she needed paying customers usually.

 

For exercise, my kids and I spent more time outside. We took a walk every morning it went to the pool. We had baseball with neighborhood kids, or tag, etc. God provided two nice neighborhood kids that were well behaved, and made playing outside very fun.

 

Another idea for you is AWAna. AWANA is nearly free and good for social, Bible, and they even exercise a bit there. It's an excellent program!

 

I would just encourage you to think outside the box and pursue what you think of. At first I was really embarrassed to ask my piano teaching if sue needed cleaning, but she was so overjoyed, I felt I was blessing her too.

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Have you looked for activities at the library? Our library has chess and also a fitness class, and a craft time. We don't have time for these particular activities right now, but over the summer, my children were able to participate in something at the library every day. We did fitness, story time, science experiments and music. And it was all completely free.

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With an average, monthly, gross income of $560 I don't have gas money for extras even if I could find some place that has scholarships. We live in the country so we would have to travel a long ways to get to most of the places mentioned in this thread. Instead we take nature walks in the woods and stay home. I figure generations have come and gone without all of this extra stuff, and it won't kill my kid if things never get better for us.

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Last year I had my daughter in a one hour, once a week, afterschool reading program at the library; free.

 

This year we opted not to do the library program but instead go up to the elementary school on Tuesdays after school for a 1 hour guitar class; free.

 

One two week swimming lesson class each summer; free

 

These are free because we are now public schoolers at home through a school district program (although, the library program was open to homeschoolers).

 

Other than that...we don't pay for any classes. Oh, also dd takes Zumba with me (free for her...not me).

 

For son, because we are in this homebased program...he is taking Art at the high school one semester a year. To me...this is basically like his extracurricular activity at no cost.

 

He also just started guitar lessons. I sprang for a 6 week community guitar class for him. The first night the instructor said he was way beyond anything they'd teach in that class (ds plays Rush, the Beatles, etc, all self-taught....they were pecking away at Jingle Bells). So, the guitar instructor is putting the money I paid towards private lessons. When that runs out I hope we can swing the $12 per half hour class.

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I can't recommend scouts enough. Not only is it very accessible for low-income, scouts of all income get the opportunity to try new things for free. My scouts have tried horseback riding, karate, etc, just from community members willing to volunteer an hour to let girls in my troop try something new.. and good PR for them. I am a scout leader and I can say I leave it open just in my troop for our troop to pay fees if a family ever can't afford - that is to say nothing of the council and what they offer.

 

And from there, if your child develops an interest, don't just *assume* you can't afford things, especially if it is an extracurricular through a community organizations (as opposed to a private business.) I have one daughter that dances with the Community Ballet Association and both of my kids the Youth Orchestra. Both are non-profits and EXCELLENT programs. While being of means to pay their full fees, I know both of these organizations offer scholarships or reduced fees for those families who cannot afford - or offer fundraising opportunities to have the fees offset. I know the YMCA offers all kinds of sports here and they will bend over backwards to let all kids participate regardless of family income.

 

Also I have to say one of the reasons I like the community organizations instead of private businesses, it the diverse community. My daughter spent one year dancing in a private studio and frankly, I did not like the lobby ambiance of 100% snooty well-to-do girls gossiping about each other. At the community ballet, there is a very diverse group - all economic classes, races, (and some boys!) - and heck, my daughter gets to dance in the Nutcracker! Win-win. :D I met an immigrant mom at the Nutcracker performance last year (which is some pretty fancy, high-end stuff). She has 4 girls and works as a waitress. They participate in the ballet on scholarship and she and the older girls work hard volunteering to give back.

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Not VLI, but still the budget for extras is pretty limited. And if I let one I have to let the other. KWIM?

 

I have found some very low cost and even free extras. The boys and girls club has offerings for free or next to nothing. Both boys did dance for free for years. Tennis in the summer is free. Swimming in the summer is free. The library has a lot of free stuff.

 

If I were VLI, I'd apply for financial aid through the Y.

 

I live in a city so that definitely helps. Although most of the extras (that are low cost or free) are tied to the schools. Kinda sucky, but it is what it is.

 

Luckily, my kids don't care all that much about the extras. I think I care more than they do. They are as content, if not more, to just go run around at the park.

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Where on earth do you all find free swimming in the summer?!?

 

There is nothing like that around here. All pools charge a fee for maintenance, and quite a bit for swim lessons. The cheapest is the Y pool at $34 per kid, per month. I actually know several kids who don't know how to swim because their parents can't afford for them to take lessons. :(

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I know it's extremely hard, but you have to learn to say no. Find free activities or low cost or meet with our families to arrange sports in someone's back yard. :001_smile: You can do it! I think freedom in educating your child will outway the extra stuff.

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We've been living well below federal poverty levels for about a decade. We can't afford things like music lessons, dance, or sports. I have no savings accounts for anything. We do live in a rural area, so most of the suggestions I've seen have been non-applicable to my little family.

 

Where on earth do you all find free swimming in the summer?!?

 

The lake, but that's getting iffy with the toxic algae blooms in mid summer. No lifeguard and no lessons.

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Where on earth do you all find free swimming in the summer?!?

 

There is nothing like that around here. All pools charge a fee for maintenance, and quite a bit for swim lessons. The cheapest is the Y pool at $34 per kid, per month. I actually know several kids who don't know how to swim because their parents can't afford for them to take lessons. :(

 

Actually when I lived in CT our parks department had TONS of very low cost summer programs, including free swimming. The programs were high quality and usually around $15 for the entire year. I miss that so much! But here in NY, everything is tied to the schools. There is nothing but free swimming. And it's not very good either.

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Where on earth do you all find free swimming in the summer?!?

 

There is nothing like that around here. All pools charge a fee for maintenance, and quite a bit for swim lessons. The cheapest is the Y pool at $34 per kid, per month. I actually know several kids who don't know how to swim because their parents can't afford for them to take lessons. :(

 

My 20 year old and my 17 year old don't know how to swim. When they were growing up, the only pools were about 30 miles away (in two different directions), they were expensive for lessons, and the lessons were always in the winter. :glare: My dh always said he'd teach them to swim at a lake. Never happened. Now where we live there is an outdoor community pool. I called there (and other pools within a reasonable driving distance) to see if I could get them in any adult swimming class....or a crash course one-on-one (or even both together). I was willing to pay! Nothin' doin'. They all acted like we were from Mars because I had kids that age who didn't know how to swim. Anyway, youngest dd gets her lessons free because we are public school and all the public school kids inside the villiage get free lessons. The year before we were "public" I said we homeschooled....they wouldn't give her free lessons. I think they were like $60 (or $80??) for one week. Couldn't do it. No lessons that year. Now she got level 1 and 2 two summers ago. This summer she got a repeat of level 2 for free. I don't know who funds all these kids to get free lessons...but I don't know how long it will last. Every single year there are many fundraisers to keep the pool open. It's been on the brink of remaining closed for the last few years. So..who knows how long she'll have lessons.

ETA: BTW, I have "issues" with these lessons anyway. I don't do as the other parents do and drop my kid off and leave. I stay there. I know that what she learned in two weeks I could have taught her in one day if I had a pool to teach her in.

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We were very broke for a while when our kids were younger. During that time, we made heavy use of free activities in the community.

 

My kids participated in free programs at the library (story time, book clubs, special events). They attended every program at our local bookstores. (My daughter especially enjoyed an American Girl-themed "club" one store ran back then.) We belonged to a homeschool group and did park days and parent-run classes with them. My son did a series of Mommy-and-me classes run by the local parks and recreation department. They both did classes at a nature preserve/state park nearby, where each two-hour session cost $2 per person. They did "twilight camp" with Camp Fire, which met once a week during the summer for a themed night of activities, games and dinner and was significantly less expensive than pretty much any other summer program (something like $50 for eight weeks, I think).

 

That was also when they started doing community theatre, which is free, rather than tuition-based youth productions.

 

One summer, we couldn't afford to do really anything tuition based. So, I gathered a group of homeschool families and did our own "camp." We met once a week, rotating from home to home. Each family would plan an afternoon of activities. I remember, for example, having everyone over to swim in the apartment complex pool, watch a DVD and do a craft project. The kids had a blast, and it was nearly free.

 

I'd strongly recommend really searching for resources in your community. Park and rec departments often offer wonderful things cheap or free. (Our city, for example, has several pools, which are free for residents to use.) Also, libraries offer great programs in many areas.

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Glad to hear some public schools are offering swim lessons. That is a life-saving skill everyone should learn.

 

This is the main reason our little community pool remains open each summer. This issue is always in our newspaper throughout the year....the pool in threat of not opening each summer because of the great cost to maintain it. But, they always end up raising the money because where else will the kids learn to swim?? But free lessons should be available to all kids then.

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Always ask about scholarships or discounts. Even when they are not officially available sometimes they are. Ds is on an AAU baseball team this fall. They had no scholarships at this time. When I told the coach he couldn't participate due to financial reasons, he called back and offered us 50% off! You just never know.

 

Other than that, I'm :bigear:.

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Where on earth do you all find free swimming in the summer?!?

 

There is nothing like that around here. All pools charge a fee for maintenance, and quite a bit for swim lessons. The cheapest is the Y pool at $34 per kid, per month. I actually know several kids who don't know how to swim because their parents can't afford for them to take lessons. :(

 

I want to know this, too! My kids (9 yo and 7 yo) still haven't had swim lessons because the absolute cheapest lessons are $55/mo.

 

I just checked our parks and rec web site and there's a martial arts class for $45/mo. Not a bad price, but not affordable for us. There's nothing else for kids (and not much for teens/adults, either). During the summer they have special interest classes for kids (photography, sign language, that type of thing), but that is super expensive ($65 per 4 week class). There are a handful of scholarships available that I will look into for next summer. We live in a very low income area, so there isn't enough scholarship money to go around.

 

Unfortunately we have no YMCA, but I'm going to check and see if there's a Boys and Girls Club.

 

There are quite a few homeschool classes available, but again, they're all about $40 a month, mainly because the majority of families use charter money, so cost isn't a big issue.

 

It's definitely possible to keep my other DD in the charter. She's ahead of the curve academically and can, more or less, do what she wants and still meet the requirements.

 

Lots to think about. Thanks for the suggestions and do keep them coming :)

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Scouts (both boy and girl) offer scholarships, which often even include the uniform. 4-H can also be a lowcost option depending on the topic you choose (4-h has a ton of stuff, not just agriculture).

 

Our parks and rec department has lowcost everything, and scholarships available. Many membership gyms have pools and offer kids lessons; I've known of one mom who traded working in the gym's daycare on swim lesson days for her kids' lessons.

 

Start your own clubs/classes. My son wanted to join a Lego robotics league, but the cost was prohibitive. We started our own homeschool Odyssey of the Mind team instead. Much more cost effective, unless we make it to world championship, then we'll have to do fundraising. We split the cost for team registration and materials amongst all the families and it came out to $15 each for the year. Most of our materials were scavenged or donated.

 

While we don't participate, some parents in our homeschool group trade lessons. One mom teaches the kids in the group piano, while the other does French lessons, and another does math tutoring. My pooling their skills their kids are getting all the extracurricular lessons for free, just a bit of weekly effort from mom or dad.

 

Look for adult clubs in the topic you are interested in, they often have free or lowcost kids groups. For example, my son belongs to our local astronomical society. They offer a monthly free astronomy class for kids, along with free public star parties. Or, kids can join the society for $14 and have access to free telescope rentals, the astronomy library, other observing classes and opportunities.

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We are not in that position, but we do have to choose what we will do outside the home vs what we can do at home. There are free online tutorials for instruments, most cities have very low cost sports and some homeschool groups have low cost sports too (some places even give discounts if you coach or help the team), trading services with others, and sending one child to an activity and letting them teach everyone else are a few things I can think of. We have done several of the above ourselves.

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We did almost no extracurriculars that cost $$$ until mine were in 4th grade or so. It seemed like everyone around us was doing Kindermusic, gymnastics, and everything else, but we mostly played outside, did the free library programs, and went to local attractions that were free or inexpensive.

 

By 4th grade they had clearer interests, and I bartered for cheaper martial arts and piano lessons. I was also able to increase my work hours then, so we could afford more field trips and such.

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I think you've gotten some GREAT tips in this thread about bartering, looking for free days, etc.!

 

That said- I just want to say- please don't stress it. It's hard not to, you have to constantly remind yourself not to sometimes. :) Because it seems like everybody and their brother has their kid in 2, 3, extracurriculars, and people give you THAT look when your kids don't do them. Resist the urge to feel ANY guilt or upset about it! Do family game nights, playdates, nature walks, craft projects at home, look for DVDs and books about their areas of interest.....there are SO many ways to make great memories and well-rounded children that don't include the time/expense/stress of extracurricular classes! I PROMISE your kids will be okay if they never do one.

 

:grouphug:

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Our kids mainly do extracurriculars through the YMCA and we take advantage of scholarships. Even with that it is a stretch for us with two in swim lessons and 1 on swim team this year.

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We are not poor, but my daughter only does music. Music is very expensive and I don't have the time or energy to stick anything else on top of that. People under five do nothing.

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We have a family discount on some of our extra-curriculars. We are also at a smaller gym for gymnastics and it's ridiculously cheap...like 1/3 of the cost of a club. It's not quite as organized as the larger gyms, but the instructors are great. Also, our community sports are inexpensive (soccer, baseball, swimming, etc.)...not to mention they aren't year round like gymnastics and piano!

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I want to know this, too! My kids (9 yo and 7 yo) still haven't had swim lessons because the absolute cheapest lessons are $55/mo.

 

 

I've been a swim instructor and the price was a big complaint. FWIW - I never earned more than $10/hour and I volunteered to teach classes of paying kids so the pool could make ends meet.

 

Pools are massively expensive to maintain and operate. Every pool has to carry insurance and, as you can imagine, dozens of little kids who don't know how to swim being there every day is a huge liability.

 

Swim classes aren't really social gathers anyway so my best advice (assuming you're a reasonably proficient swimmer) would be to look up skills for each level and teach them to your kids until it's beyond your ability to teach - generally around level 3 or so if the parent was never a competitive swimmer or went far in lessons and put them in formal lessons then.

 

http://www.capecodseacamps.com/wp-content/themes/ccsc/documents/day-camp-forms/red-cross-swim-level-guide.pdf

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Money is tight for us right now. We downsized to a different house to make our mortgage payment less then I changed dd's violin lessons to once a week with her teacher and once a week with a less expensive practice partner rather than twice a week with her teacher. We do without new vehicles or new clothes as often as we'd like. We have a garden and chickens to help with the groceries, keep our heat/air on very low settings and just dress for the weather in the house, and we are dealing with our house the way it is rather than remodel (we could really use new carpets...yuck! I have hated these since we moved in 3 years ago.)

 

Dd gets scholarships that pay for camps/ensembles and we do fundraising for her annual trip to Ireland for competition (we are lucky to have a large community of people to help out with that).

 

My boys are in public high school so their extracurriculars/sports don't cost anything during the season. My oldest has a wonderful wrestling coach who during the off season who allows us to make payments rather than charging us the whole payment at once. He has even offered to coach ds for free but I don't feel right about that so we pay him as we can.

 

Even so, I feel like we are always on the edge money-wise. I do put away some each month for retirement but that happens first thing, automatically otherwise, I might just not do it on those really tight months. I feel like my kids' childhoods will be over eventually then we will have money. Looking at the situation as temporary helps.

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There comes a point too where your kids are old enough to barter for things on their own. We know of several teenage homeschoolers who volunteer to help with younger kids at dance, art studios in exchange for their lessons.

 

DD is only 8 but she has been riding horses since she was 4 and is now finally useful enough to barter. She spends 2 hours per week at the barn so that's 8 hours a month, but we only pay for 2 hours of lessons. She rides every week though but she also cleans tack, helps train horses, mucks stalls, etc. to make up the other time.

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We usually had ds in one activity. We needed something with a defined monetary amount, not monthly expenses. Our income was widely variable, what we had one month, we may not have the next. Right now he's not doing any extras outside of the home, but self-educating on computers.

 

We used:

 

Swim lesson through the Red Cross - they aren't offered everywhere, but they're for a week or two in the summer and were affordable (that was a few years ago).

 

Scouts - not overly expensive. Now ds is not interested

4H - not just cows and sheep. 4H really does have a lot to offer at minimal expense. However, it didn't work for ds because the group we were a part of did a lot of public speaking exercises and he wasn't into that. He had also signed up and paid extra for shooting sports, well the group was disorganized and he got to shoot once all season. So I would check out the individual group for Scouts and 4H, they seem to vary a lot.

 

Upward Sports - this was a little more expense, but a good positive experience with basketball for ds.

 

Y- League Sports - He did teeball for two years. Dh coached one year. It was again a defined expense, low pressure, and fun.

 

Not group related:

 

Find local state parks - ds and I hike when we can. Great time to do some nature study and get exercise.

 

Volunteer opportunities - Habitat for Humanity (kids have to be older, I think), food bank, neighbor care, nursing homes.

 

Family opportunities - Do you have friends or family that can teach a skill? Dh is a carpenter and has been teaching ds the skill since he could pick up a hammer.

 

My dad knows electronics, like circuits and stuff. I've been trying to get them together, but timing always seems to be off on working.

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There comes a point too where your kids are old enough to barter for things on their own. We know of several teenage homeschoolers who volunteer to help with younger kids at dance, art studios in exchange for their lessons.

 

Right. That's what my daughter is doing now. She works a few three-hour shifts at the front desk of a local dance school and gets her classes free in exchange. She works an average of 12 - 15 hours per week and takes three or four classes per week.

 

And, of course, she's also getting work experience.

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You might be surprised at where you can get scholarships. I have noticed that the premier arts organizations here in town, for instance, are the ones that are most likely to offer significant financial aid--specifically, in my observation, for group vocal or ballet lessons.

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You might be surprised at where you can get scholarships. I have noticed that the premier arts organizations here in town, for instance, are the ones that are most likely to offer significant financial aid--specific, in my observation, for group vocal or ballet lessons.

 

And if you have a kid who fills a niche for them, studios are often happy to give you a break, financially.

 

For example, my son dances, sings and does theatre. Currently, he has a scholarship for one of his weekly dance classes (which we did not request). He is doing a youth theatre production on full scholarship, because they needed a boy for one role. He travelled to England with his choir this past summer with more than half the costs covered by scholarship, because they had so few boys and wanted all of them to go.

 

He is interested and talented in fields that do not frequently attract enough males. So, organizations trip over themselves to make it financially possible for him to participate.

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scouting has been the best bargain. Swim lessons are given at camp, and they are available at home for free -- usually one of the older boys that needs a leadership project or honor society service hours & is on swim team will instruct for free. The kid then just has to pay the pool session fee, which the school district will waive for Free lunch qualifiers. Many merit badge instructors provide instruction if you can meet them somewhere. Materials fees can be paid for out of the scout's account from fundraisers.

 

Music lessons and foreign language conversation practice - barter with family members or neighbors.

 

Community groups..usually have fundraisers so middle school and highschool age can fund themselves if they don't want to babysit etc.

 

Some of my neighbors do in-home sales to pay for the extracurriculars. Others put their time into fundraising that lowers the cost for the whole group.

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We don't do many extra curricular things. It's really hard when you are a large family on a tight budget. We try to do something every now and then, but even then it is usually just one child at a time. We did manage, however, to put 3 dc into gymnastics and 1 in ballet for a year. We had the opportunity to trade cleaning the gym every week for "free" classes. It worked out really well and the kids learned responsibility and felt a sense of accomplishment working for something they wanted to do. I know this wont work for everyone, but it was great the year we were able to do it.

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Instead we take nature walks in the woods and stay home. I figure generations have come and gone without all of this extra stuff, and it won't kill my kid if things never get better for us.

:iagree: If you can swing it go for it, if you can't you can't.

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As I plot to extricate my family from our homeschool charter this is the one issue that stops me. Can I responsibly send my kids to music lessons, sports, etc. (all told, $150/mo) when we're barely able to save for retirement? (Answer: no, I would feel so guilty and irresponsible)

 

We were at or below FPL for the first ~5 years of HSing. The cost of all those activities here would be much more than $150 a month. More like $150 a week (just for one-- and at that time we had 5). So it was never even something we considered, and it was tough. We did a lot of library visits and bought memberships to the zoo and one museum ($140 total) which lasted a year, and we amortized it by going as often as possible. This was before I discovered my kids are allergic to anything with fur or feathers... so we haven't been to the zoo for a long time.

 

Lessons and sports are so expensive here, that when i sat down and calculated how much it would cost to join the YMCA and have 1 weekly lesson for each child, it was the same cost as enrolling them in CS-- which with the sibling discount comes out to about the same. So we enrolled them and have just 1 HSing now. However we are better off financially than we were then, but it would still be an incredible expense to provide lessons and sports for 7 children. Just an example, for one art class a week, it is $300 for 8 weeks. Music lessons are, minimum, $80 per lesson.

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