When it comes to hobbies you might call my children, ‘jacks of all trades’. They love learning new things and tend to prefer to dabble in multiple hobbies rather than focus on one thing in particular. In many ways I think this is a blessing and a very positive experience for them. It helps to make them well rounded, prepares them for many situations, and allows them to try out a bunch of different things to see what they enjoy. However, if we are not careful, it could get quite expensive and time consuming to keep so many different plates spinning.
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In order to balance our desire for them to have many experiences with the need to manage our time and money wisely, we have found a few programs that balance those concepts.
One key to managing our time wisely is that we do several hobbies together as a family. This keeps us from having to go in several different directions at once and allows that hobby time to also be quality family time. For example, our family is interested in history and more specifically Colonial and Revolutionary War era American history. We love to take day trips to various historic sites and learn about history but even more, we enjoy being a part of living history events. We volunteer with our local historic site, Tryon Palace, and participate in various events. The children love to dress up in colonial attire and teach others about history. We love that they are learning and we get to spend time together as a family.
Another way we have found to help use our time wisely is to find programs that can be done at home. This minimizes travel time and allows various children to be working on different projects at one time. This helps us to be able to have them each work on hobbies that they enjoy without making me feel like I am spending my days running them from one practice to another.
For their interest in art, we use the You Are An Artist Chalk Pastel classes. These are recorded art lessons that use either chalk pastels or acrylics (new) to help with a variety of beautiful artwork. I love that we can fit in their desire for more art with a teacher that can help them, without ever needing to leave our home. The lessons typically take us about 20 minutes. These also meet our criteria for using money wisely because the supplies are very inexpensive and by utilizing the Clubhouse you have access to a wide variety of lessons for everyone in the family for one low monthly price. If I were paying for in person lessons, I would only get one short lesson per month for one student for the price I am paying to get as many lessons as they want to take for all three of my students (the 4th is only a year old so no art lessons yet).
Music has never been my gift but both of my children expressed interest. Years ago my son tried guitar lessons but the drive back and forth got to be difficult with the other small children. I also had to entertain them in the car while we waited for him and that was no fun. Eventually we stopped lessons. However, this past year I found a solution to their interest in music. My son is working through a subscription to Guitar360 Method. Since it is a lifetime subscription, he can take his time and work at his own pace. He works on it when he has time and interest. My daughter and just recently my 5-year-old son, are taking violin lessons through Practice Monkeys. There program is also online but is different in the fact that they can go online Monday through Thursday at their appointed times and take part in a fifteen minute lesson along with other students of their same level. This allows the teacher to offer feedback and them to ask questions. If we cannot make it to the live online class, we have access to the replay so that they can still practice. This has been a really great fit for my daughter. I’m still not sure how my son will do at his young age, but as it is a family subscription, I felt I did not have anything to lose by letting him try.
My children enjoy being outdoors, working in the garden and with our animals. We have chickens, ducks, and bees that we keep year round but they wanted some experience with other animals. We were already involved in 4-H which is a great program that offers a variety of opportunities from science, art, public speaking, and more. Through 4-H we have connected with various chicken and livestock shows for them to begin growing their knowledge in those areas. 4-H has programs in place to help children of set the costs of raising and showing the animals to make it more accessible to all children. They even have programs to help students who want to raise animals but do not have the space to do so. We have found 4-H to be a great way for our children to explore a variety of different topics with minimal cost. The other benefit is that all of my children from 5-18 can do this together.
Finally, my secret weapon, our annual subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Schoolhouse Teachers offers over 400 different courses. Many of these are more standard core classes, such as English and math, but they also offer a huge number of electives that can help your child explore various hobbies. I love these because when my child shows an interest in something, I can give them resources without any added expense or commitment. If they enjoy it they can keep working further, if the interest fizzles out, they can move on without the worry of wasted money.
For example, my daughter recently spent $25 to buy herself a digital camera at a yard sale. She is really enjoying taking point and click pictures with it but wants to learn more about the different settings and how to take better pictures. This month was super busy for us but next month she is going to begin working through one of the photography courses that they offer. I could also have them take the homesteading course (or selected lessons from the course) to help them with their animal and gardening projects. This summer I am hoping that they can work through a few lessons in the heritage crafts course to add to their knowledge and skills when we do living history events. There are so many different options for various electives, music classes, and art classes. They are all included in a single family membership (either monthly or annually), you can start and stop them at any time, pick and choose from the lessons as needed. I love the flexibility to offer my children a virtual ‘buffet’ of learning opportunities to allow them to explore their interests without breaking the bank or becoming a full time chauffeur.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to offer my children a wide variety or experiences to allow them to explore their interests and gain new skills without busting our budget or wasting all of our family time. I hope that this gives you some ideas. I would love for you to share with me in the comments about what you use to help your children pursue their hobbies.
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Deals and Freebies
Schoolhouse Teachers is also offering a great sale! If you want to give it a try, your first month is only $1 or you can get an entire year for $111. My daughter is getting ready to use a photography class from our subscription to help her learn more about her new (to her) camera.
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