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Author Topic: You guys make me feel I'm under-educating my kid. Seriously. :)  (Read 11624 times)
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« on: June 24, 2013, 02:55:34 AM »

You guys make me feel I'm under-educating my kid. Seriously. smile Wow. I can see how committed you are to your kids. I'm a newbie to this early learning thing---I didn't really know until very recently. Kerileanne referred me to this forum.

I have a few questions for you:
1. How much do you guys spend per month per kid? I mean, look at these whiz-bang learning kits, subscription, toys, gadgets, and whatchamacallits. They all require money, right? Browsing through this forum leaves an impression to me that you guys spend an awful lot of money (or get an insane amount of deals). What sum of money are we looking at here?

2. What is your approach for buying kits/gadgets to your kids? Do you buy "all" the "recommended" ones and see which one "sticks" with your kids? Or do you pick and choose? If you pick and choose, what criteria do you use?

3. Recognizing that there are a lot of overlap in the kits out there, it's hard for me to justify buying too many. I just don't want waste. In that case, I'm wondering if you guys could give me recommendation as to what might be suitable programs / kits?

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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2013, 03:59:04 AM »

Kerileanne is the sweetest and awesome.  Welcome to Brillkids.  It depends on what you are trying to accomplish and whats most important to you to give to your child.  I don't think there is really a wrong answer although most everyone will agree that at least math and reading should definitely be on your list.   This place is money saver for the must have items.  One of my must have is Brainpop Jr, and I got a great deal through this co-op.  You just have to wait for it to come available as group buy.  From my understanding most popular items become available at least twice a year, so keep an eye on their site.

Also watch too.  Little Pim and other great sets come available on this site too. 

You can find great deals on ebay too. I am not sure if you are in the US or not, but lots of homeschool groups sell their materials at the end of the school year.  You can check facebook for homeschool groups in your area or just google them.  That is a great way to actually get to look at the materials and decide if it really is the right fit.   Sometimes these curriculums don't really speak to us until they are in our hands. 

Sometimes you find what works for you for free!  This has been my case with a couple of things.   My three old has really taken to the Funnix Math program which is a very thorough and easy to use computer learning software that was offered for free last year in November.   It takes very small steps growing the child's math confidence with ease.  It's not the fanciest program with fancy graphics but its put together intelligently.   They offer their reading and math program for one week every year for free I think.  I haven't used the reading program.   I like for that.  Its very thorough and easy to use.  Its also free.  Your child just needs to know their letter sounds and well there are plenty of youtube videos for that. 

You can find lots of great videos on Youtube to get you started in the right direction.  Singing and dancing is where the most learning happens with a 2 year old.  There are lots of great people who already have great playlists put together.  Just type youtube playlists in the search bar of the forum.   You will be sure to find them.   

Another must buy is "Marshmallow Math."   It is a great book that helps you to make math apart of your every day routine with your little one. 

Most of all have fun and enjoy this time with your LO.


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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2013, 05:13:01 AM »

Keri is awesome!

Early Learning does not have to cost much. We are a single income, low income family. Thanks to a small raise my husband made last week we are finally above the poverty line! Just.

My single biggest investment for my son was an iPad. With an iPad I can get a plethora of early learning apps for nothing or a few dollars here and there. I completely believe you can teach a child to read and do math with an iPad (some apps) and access to a library.

The library is a huge boost for us. My son borrows about 30 books a week and devours them. We read non fiction just as much as fiction. Many libraries allow you to borrow DVDs and CDs too. I was able to borrow some preschool prep and

Another place I go is Goodwill. I have been able to find some great books for 99c. And some awesome games for $2-$4. Goodwill is a good source for puzzles.
Discount or outlet stores are a good source for work books and puzzles too.
Garage sales can be surprising resources.

There will always be something that you feel you have to buy. But often times there is a cheaper option. You don't need to buy counting bears for math. You can use anything in your home. Cheerios are a hit here. Or we spent $1 buy hundreds is tiny erasers to count. You don't need fancy work books worth $30-$40. Schoolzone makes some great ones for under $3. Or that might have been the amazon deal pricebut they are cheap.

If I am to buy something expensive I look for a great deal, I buy it through amazon with swag bucks and credit card reward points, or  buy it used via eBay.

There will eventually be somethings you will want to spend money on, like an abacus or dominos for example. But for things like that I give to my son for birthday and Christmas presents. My son gets used books and work books and educational toys for birthday and Christmas. And he is ecstatic.

Oh and I second Cockers, YouTube is a great free resource. There  are several completely free math programs, one called MEP  and another called JUMP. Starfall followed by Reading Bear are great free reading resources.

You may want to invest in a good printer with cheap ink. smile

« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 05:16:48 AM by Korrale4kq » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 06:52:46 AM »

I agree. I'm doing some EL, but this forum always leaves me feeling I'm not doing enough. There is so much a parent could do.

Unless you have 2 dedicated parents, I think it is difficult to do it all. Pick one or 2 areas to focus.

1) In 5 years I have spent an average of about $200 u.s.$ a year. Most stuff I bought for first kid worked for the second.

2) I pick and choose, I try to find programs that fit with my child's current interest and level. Free is great and there are lots of free resources.

3) Nope. I would suggest trying all the Free resources first. That will help you see what style does or does not work for your child and might help you narrow down your choices. Also remember that sometimes to pay for more of the Free stuff will just bore your child. Did I mention there are lots of Free resources out there, and there is more every day!

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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2013, 08:02:37 AM »

Yes!  Welcome to BrillKids!!!!

1.  At first, very little.  I did a lot of shopping at the thrift store, and I made a lot of my own materials.  I started my EL journey with the Glenn Doman books, and he gives lots of suggestions for how to make your own materials.  At first it was me, my laminator and printer, and's powerpoint presentations.  My husband encouraged me to start a blog, and so I did and have researched internet marketing off and on.  smile  We had a lot of success everywhere but reading, and my oldest was getting "old", so at 3.5 we bought Your Baby Can Read, and it gave us our big break.  He started reading almost over night, and with the help of the library he was on his way.  Well, early learning is addicting.  Once you start spending money on it and seeing results, you want to spend more money on it, and it's a vicious cycle.   LOL Yes, it does cost money, either that or time.  No getting around that.  There's no way I could have afforded all of the resources my 4th kid has when my oldest was a baby.  In the meantime, my blog has grown enough to bring in a little money.  How much do I spend.  hehe.  As much as I bring in.  It's my education budget and while we have a personal saving account, this isn't it.  So if you find yourself wanting to buy these things, you might think of something you can do to bring in a little money- not something to pay the bills, but enough to fund your kid's education.  All our Christmas spending is to further their education as well.  They can get the typical presents from Grandma and Grandpa.  All of my "fun money" goes to the kids.  Over time you'll get a nice resource library, but start small and really make whatever resource you get work for you.  You can spend as little or as much as you want.  My best guess personally is that we spend $100 a month on average, accounting for Christmas.  My kids are spoiled.

2.  I pick and choose.  My criteria:  Does the BrillKids community like it?  Haha.  No joke.  At this point, all of my shopping stems from recommendations on this forum, with occasional glances at things my local homeschooling group points out.  There are plenty of products that people here are ranting and raving about to get me started.  The other criteria:  is it big family friendly?  I won't buy something that I have to pay monthly per child.  I want reusable products that all my children will be able to use.  I want a big family, and when my oldest is a teenager, I can't be investing in a new baby's education, so I want something good for long term use.  (BK line is perfect for this because it's software and the babies won't chew it up!)

3. Well, you will have to pick and choose.  For reading, Little Reader is my favorite, but Your Baby Can Read and Monki See are also fantastic.  For Math, Mathtacular and family subscription have been our favorites.  For Encyclopedic Knowledge, Little Reader can do it if you download files made by other members, but TweedleWink is the best "done for you" route.  If I could only buy one EL thing, it would be Little Reader, but TweedleWink is a close second because it has music, math dots, reading, and encyclopedic knowledge all built in, as well as eye training exercises.  Along those lines, Your Baby/Child Can Discover is fantastic too.  Ha!  None of these programs are cheap.  Sorry.  Don't feel overwhelmed or guilty if they aren't in your budget right now.  I know it's a lot.  Then again, college textbooks and classes are a lot of money too.  That was how I justified my first big splurge- realizing I had paid that much for education in the past.  The advice to start with one subject is very good, and reading is probably the best place because once they can read, they can learn about anything they like with a library card.  Once you have reading down, then you can branch out and wet your feet in other areas if you feel inclined.  If not, no worries!  Nobody here will judge you for not doing more.  None of us are out to prove our kid is the smartest kid on the forum.  This is a very supportive community and we are here to help you.  Good luck!


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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2013, 10:40:00 AM »

I felt that way (especially when I joined this forum) and do feel that way regularly. My husband & I both work full-time in demanding careers, therefore our time with our 12-month old daughter is more quality-based than quantity. She's looked after by a nanny who thankfully is just as keen to give our little one every opportunity to learn, grow, develop and so am able to ensure that she learns whilst at home and goes out as much as possible.

1) Money-wise, the biggest purchases have been the BrillKids package (including French & Mandarin). The next biggest purchase has been Tweedlewink DVDs (which thankfully, I was able to reduce the costs by buying the set jointly with another parent). We recently purchased a home-gym for DD to use (we are not DIY people when it comes to these things) and that cost about the same as the split-up cost of Tweedlewink. Other than that, it doesn't cost much (if at all) for the apps I tend to purchase through iPad (we had it before she was born, so I wouldn't say it's something we bought specifically for our daughter) and the local playgroups tend to be free for the most part and the paying ones typically around £5 per class per week.

2) I have only bought those which I have been able to test on my daughter before purchasing the full-pack to see if she has any interest. For apps on iPad I have looked up reviews before making up my mind.

3) I would definitely recommend the BrillKids stuff. I would also recommend Tweedlewink DVDs + Sparkabilities (app on iPad). Other than that, YouTube is brilliant to see lots and lots of videos for free :-)

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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2013, 05:15:12 PM »

I totally understand why you feel that way.  There are some amazing people on this forum, and the fact that they share their journey here is awesome.  So many things to learn.  I think you have to maintain perspective though.  There are some people here that do not work and are able to do incredible things with their children.  There are others who work and cannot do as much.  Some of us have more than one child and so forth.  It isn't right to compare, only to borrow ideas that can work for you and feel blessed that you have the ability and the opportunity to implement them.  The great thing is that if you are strapped for time and finances, there are lots of great materials created by parents here and shared.  You can use the Little Reader files, print free flash cards and so forth.  We are really limited only by our creativity and time to implement our ideas.  If nothing else, it is inspiring to read the posts here and know that little children are doing far more than most people ever dream possible.  I think that is AWESOME. smile


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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2013, 11:48:06 PM »

I am a modern mom and I like my kids to learn even when I am feel lazy uninspired. Ipads, DVDs, and other random learning toys really come to the rescue. I think half of early learning  it is limiting all of the candy (JUNK tv and toys) and restricting them to vegetables most of the time instead (surrounding them with good learning materials). I feel that it is worth mentioning we don't subscribe to any broadcast TV, which opens up a lot of free time for other activities or higher quality hand-selected learning DVD's. Also, don't get overwhelmed with materials, sometimes less is more. Stick to one program all the way through, add another, and so on, but don't try to do it all at once! I buy used sometimes, look for deals at the teacher stores, but I really like ready made supplies/programs overall. I used to make a lot of my materials (and still will from time to time....we spent the morning making homemade "multiplication sticks" of rhinestones and popsicle sticks) but these days I try to buy ready made when I can. My time is valuable and having a ready-to-go program makes it more likely it will get DONE and not sit as a well-intended, half finished project. I used to stay up late when the kids were babies making flashcards (printing out LR files and cutting them up for the flap binders), etc.

And yes, definitely don't compare yourself to other parents as much as you can help it. Like everyone else, your situation is unique! My son is spending the month at my sisters house and WOW is it sooo much easier to do learning activities with just one child. Doesn't mean I'll be trading him in any time soon LOL (and it was hard to agree to let him go, trust me) but it helps me keep it in perspective that sometimes life derails you and that's okay. Under normal circumstances, there are many times I don't get as much done with the two of them because they bicker, there are two noses/butts to wipe, and so on, you do the best you can within your own situation and abilities. My kids could definitely be more advanced than they are but I choose to live my life too, and not let it revolve completely around EL although it does factor into many, many of our parenting decisions. A lot of this EL stuff overall hinges on how much effort Mom is willing to give. So do your best, but don't beat yourself up or sacrifice too much, you'll all burn out and it's not healthy. I hope that made sense.

1) Layer the learning, but don't curriculum hop too much because you'll just get overwhelmed and spin your wheels, never making any progress in a particular book/program.

2) Stick to the basics at first, starting with just one or two programs and adding on as you go. Again, try not to curriculum hop *too much* in a given subject.

3) Research early learning but START WHERE YOU ARE. You could read and read and read until the cows come home and never feel fully equipped to begin, so just jump in and start somewhere.

4) Be respectful of "their time." If you need to read the forums, or create materials, etc, and you think you can stay up late and still be fresh for your kids, then great. But when they are awake during the day, try to be "on the clock" because you're on THEIR time. You can ninja post like I do on and off smile Give your kids their natural prime-time learning hours and try to set aside other responsibilities during those hours if you can.

5) Explain EVERYTHING. When you're in the car, at the grocery store, respond to their questions with questions and explain when you fill your tank with gasoline WHY it needs gasoline to run.....and what does a human body use for goes on and on.  When you cut an onion at dinner, let them smell, touch, and taste it? Where do onions grow? On trees, bushes, in the ground? Look it up online later with pictures and videos. Point out words everywhere you go and encourage curiosity, if you don't know, find out together. This is the part of EL that permeates into every facet of your life and can be incorporated into existing activities, taking little to no extra time.

6) There will be seasons of life when dedicated learning activities take a backseat, like illnesses, moving house, even a death in the family, and so on. These are the times to especially lean on the multimedia learning tools if you can! Magic school bus is now on Netflix and DD watches them whenever I let her. Yesterday she told me about the food chain and so we looked up more information about it online, she of course picked it up from Magic School Bus. smile

Those are the things that come to mind now. So, not exactly specific curriculum advice (although I forgot to mention you will probably spend more in the beginning versus later in your journey) but my advice to a newbie nonetheless. Welcome to the forum!!!

P.S. If you start to falter and begin comparing yourself to other parents, definitely pick someone else besides Keri to compare yourself to LOL ....she's cream of the crop even on this forum and one tough act to follow! Wink

« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 12:56:53 AM by TeachingMyToddlers » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2013, 12:27:33 AM »


Thanks. I needed that!

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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2013, 12:50:41 AM »

I think it is easy to come on here and compare my son to all the kids collectively. There are kids that are excelling in reading, others in music, others in mathematics. But there is seldom a child that is excelling in everything. There was a really good post about some of the things our kids can't do.
I know my son can read, but he can't throw a ball forward at all. Every time he tries it flies behind him, no matter how much I try to teach him. smile

Karen Quinn writes a good book that I think is worth a read. She talks about the importance of talking with your child, creating a dialogue and expanding on ideas. So much can be taught that way.
James learns a lot when we read books together. But he learns just as much when we go for a walk, or a drive in the car just from talking with us and asking questions.


JJ: 5 years old.
Math:  CLE2, Singapore 2A, HOE, living math books.
Language Arts: CLE2
Reading: CLE2
Independent Reading: Half Magic, Boxcar Children, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Science: BFSU, Peter Weatherall, lots of science books.
Americana: Liberty\'s Kids, Complete Book of American History, Story of Us.
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2013, 01:02:40 AM »

I also wanted to add that I feel like dollar for dollar, $500 spent on a one year old has a greater impact than $500 spent on a 18 year old. For a toddler, early education can set the course for the rest of their life, versus $500 on a college kid buys them what, one credit hour? So, that puts in in perspective for me when it comes to handing over my check card.

I have bought some things from the HomeSchoolBuyersCoop someone else posted, and I have also bought a couple things from here once or twice , along with ebay, thrift shops, and catching things on sale. Oh, and the Dollar Tree! They have a cute teacher section, especially before the school year begins. You also need to consider how old your child is and if you'd like to do most things online, on an ipad, or via DVD, or if you'd like to buy a lot of  hands on manipulatives. That will  impact your wish list.

In the end, between bringing out the genius in your child and bringing out the best in yourself and your family/ all comes down to balance.

« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 02:24:27 AM by TeachingMyToddlers » Logged

Proud Momma to DD 11/28/08 & DS 12/29/09, exactly 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day apart in age. Check out my youtube channel for BrillKids Discounts and to see my early learners in action! smile
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2013, 01:51:40 AM »

Korrale4kq, your post immediately made me think of the book Watch Me Throw the Ball by Mo Willems.  Have you read that with James?  Here is a link  We get it at our library.  If he hasn't read it, he might like it.


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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2013, 03:59:57 AM »

Early Learning IS terms of either money or time.  It is absolutely possible to do it with very limited amounts of actual cash, but this will of course, require a much greater input of time and labor! Due to our circumstances (my health issues), I prefer to sacrifice the money so that I can spend the time I am able working with my daughter.

I absolutely realize that this is not an option for everyone, and this forum is filled to the brim with creative, ingenious moms/dads who are managing (often better than the stereotypical 'upward-mobility' idealized parent with a platinum visa!) to educate their child in the most rigorous EL programs imaginable. I count among my closest EL friends in this forum several who excel despite their circumstances. Their determination, energy, and ingenuity inspire and humble me.

I absolutely agree that you must avoid the temptation to seek out and purchase every new and intriguing program/gadget/idea that pops up as you will ultimately become overwhelmed! and even the worst, most clumsy program is exponentionally superior to a sleek, new, highly-effective program if said wonderful program sits collecting dust on the shelf!

In my experience, the best thing to do is prioritize and combine. You absolutely cannot do it all and preserve the love of learning, sanity, and sanctity of a happy family.  Sit down with a list of the possibles, including the programs you have available.  Choose your three absolutes! For me, this is Math, Language, and Logic/thinking skills.  Next, look at the list of things you would like to add.  How many of them can you combine into your BIG THREE? For me, science is naturally a massive part of all of these things, and I find it quite natural to integrate my ideas of science into all of my big three, in a manner that it becomes ingrained in every aspect of our day.  For example: we taught Alex the basics of the scientific method when she was a tiny tot.  It is now natural to problem solve and incorporate into every aspect of daily life.  Also, our Big three will have an element of science daily.  Math, in the form of living math books, science experiments and record keeping, and all of the logic work (I include music in our math work as I have taught Alex to see it this way!).

Language: honestly, language is a fantastic catch-all! At quiet time we have our current read-aloud.  Usually an advanced chapter book that we buddy-read prior to resting.  Bed-time reading is much more laid back...picture books (fantastic as they span the readinglevels but have gorgeous pictures and encourage confidence, narrative skills, and literary concept work! Nothing better for introducing parts of speech, punctuation, prosity, elements of literature such as onomantopeia, rhyming, alliteration, similies, metaphors, etc.) 
Also, we make sure to include at least one non-fiction (science) book, and one living math book. Often the living math will be a chapter in Life of Fred.  History/culture often gets done in this manner by reading a short book on upcoming holidays or a short biography.

Math: For us, the day IS math. everywhere, everything.  We have any number of programs to pull from, but her math knowledge/skills WILDLY outpace her ability to sit/focus/write at the moment. I dont see this changing anytime soon, so math is often me reading the text in advance and teaching it to her in preschool-friendly ways.  and often jumping around outside of the traditional linear approach.  This may mean algebra via Dragonbox app/Hands on Equations one day, finding area and perimeter outside on the pavement with chalk another...or playing addition/subtraction games to maximize her speed on knowledge of facts another. The absolute best money spent is on an app called Math Bingo that allows you to choose from addition/subtraction/multiplication/division...or all at once. It also allows selection of easy, medium, and difficult levels for all.

So I guess my main point is also that it will always cost you...If you choose not to spend the money, it will cost in terms of time and energy.  But I look at it in terms of long-term goals.  You can spend it now, and ensure your child earns a college scholarship ( traditionally or much earlier!), or plan to save and pay for university later. And note that later will be much more expensive with inflation and market!

Look for great deals, research WAY ahead (it always costs more if you need it last minute!), use the library first, and teach to the child you have in front of you! Not what others are working on...


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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2013, 05:26:07 AM »

Korrale4kq, your post immediately made me think of the book Watch Me Throw the Ball by Mo Willems.  Have you read that with James?  Here is a link  We get it at our library.  If he hasn't read it, he might like it.

No I have not Krista. That is the second time someone has mentioned a Mo Willems book to me tonight. One of his books was read at a story time event. I wasn't much interested. But James would probably enjoy the books. Oddly enough I think James is completely oblivious as to how bad his ball skills are, which is perfectly fine. And secretly amusing. He enjoys having fun.

« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 05:30:08 AM by Korrale4kq » Logged

JJ: 5 years old.
Math:  CLE2, Singapore 2A, HOE, living math books.
Language Arts: CLE2
Reading: CLE2
Independent Reading: Half Magic, Boxcar Children, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Science: BFSU, Peter Weatherall, lots of science books.
Americana: Liberty\'s Kids, Complete Book of American History, Story of Us.
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2013, 12:38:08 PM »

Mo Willems would not be great literature, but they are silly and fun to read aloud.  I didn't like them the first time I read them, but that book so perfectly describes James's ball throwing skills that I laughed when I read your post.  See if your library has it and have a quick read of it, even if only for you.  Then you will know exactly what I mean.


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