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A Math Lesson In Budgeting

If you have a kid (or more than one) who loves math and can’t wait for the lessons to begin, count yourself lucky. Many children dread the task of learning math, most likely because it is difficult. Math skills can be very frustrating for many kids to master. Times tables, long division, geometry, and algebra are all tough subjects to learn. The best medicine is to start with math early and to try to instill some meaning and fun into it.

As a homeschooling parent, you may also struggle alongside your kids when it comes time to learn math. Many of us learned some of these skills in school and then stopped using them, or we struggled to learn them ourselves. That makes transferring those skills onto children a challenge. But, being a homeschooler also gives you an advantage. You can teach your children math skills in a practical and realistic setting. Attaching math skills to meaningful activities in your daily lives makes it easier for the kids to grasp the concepts and to want to learn. Too often in schools, learning math means rote memorization or routine practicing of the same problems over and over again. This approach does not work for everyone.

One of the things you probably do on a regular basis that involves using math is budgeting. Especially when you are living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, making and sticking to a household budget is essential. You likely earn less money than you once did, so budgeting becomes an important aspect of the way your family lives. Bring the kids into the budgeting process to teach them valuable and practical skills as well as math.

Budgeting for the Homestead

Budgeting is a very practical and often necessary process. Living off the grid or transitioning to that type of lifestyle means that you need to be careful about money. You are likely living on less income than many people while attempting to be self-sufficient. A lesson in budgeting should begin with a discussion of what kinds of costs you have as a family, and how much money you have to spend.

Budgeting starts with one very simple equation: income minus expenditures equals the amount of money you have. Talk with your kids about this basic idea and the fact that you cannot let the result of the equation be zero or a negative number. This is a great point at which to introduce positive and negative integers and number lines. Talk about different scenarios in which income and expenditures would lead to a positive number, a negative number, and zero. You can then discuss how the result could be changed if you are not satisfied with having negative or zero money. Talk about why the number should be positive. Why is zero not good enough? Why does your family need savings?

After discussing the basics of budgeting, let your kids get involved in creating a budget. Tell them what your family’s monthly income is and see if they can come up with a budget that includes all monthly expenses, savings, and emergency situations. Let older kids try it without your help first and see how they do. After an attempt, you can show them some of the bills that you pay so they can get a better idea for what things cost. Also, point out any expenses that they may not have thought of. As they create their budgets, your kids will be using and honing their math skills in order to maximize the amount of money left over at the end of the month.

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If tackling the whole homestead budget at once is too big of a project, try some smaller scenarios first. Adjust the budgeting process for age and ability. For your younger kids, make everything very simple, use whole numbers, and give them the costs that they need to determine a budget. You can even create your own budgeting worksheets to guide the process.

Imaginary Budgeting

Another great way to introduce the math of budgeting is to start with imaginary scenarios. With this strategy, you can make a budget project as simple or as complex as you want to match your children’s levels of math skills. You can also avoid divulging the family financial secrets. Not all parents want their kids to know the details of their income and expenses. Here are some ideas you can use for creating budgeting scenarios:

Whatever strategies or types of budgeting lessons you decide to use, you will be teaching your children a valuable lesson. The sooner they learn about money and spending, the more likely they will be responsible with money later on in life. And, of course, they will have excellent math skills.

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