Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lessons On A Budget

Since we're on the topic of finances, let's talk about lessons.  Obviously, they can be expensive, especially when raising a passel of kids.  But it is possible to make it work, especially when it's a value of money well spent.

When I was young I was raised for many years by a single mother.  My mom was a teacher, so I am sure that by the time she paid for all the basics, including child care, there wasn't a lot left over.  It was a big deal to eat out, and we only bought new clothes at the beginning of the school year after the Sears catalog arrived.  I kid you not.  Yes, I am old. My grandmother also made us beautiful dresses, 

and we would occasionally get something special like a new pair of jeans for the Pendleton round-up. 

I am quite sure I was a fashionista girl.  Check out those crazy pants!

But back to affording lessons.  I don't know how my mom did it, but we all had various types over the years, especially music, swimming, and art. Sidenote: I didn't take riding lessons.  I grew up near my grandparents' cattle ranch and riding was a part of life, no lessons needed!  

We had art lessons from a nun at the church and I fondly remember my piano teacher.  Thank you Mrs. Coates for all your patience and love.  

When my own kids were born, I discovered how challenging it can be to find affordable lessons. What I've learned is don't give up!  There are so many ways to do it. 

Sometimes a trade can be worked out.  I watched the violin teacher's children one afternoon a week in exchange for half-price violin lessons for Paul and Lizzy.  We won't talk about the time her son accidentally got hit on the head with a hoe and had to get stitches!  Kim and Paul attended piano lessons on an every-other-week schedule, which honestly worked out fine.  Especially when they are little, one of the main points of lessons is just to have someone to keep practicing on task.  Vu got started on the guitar from a person down the street--I asked on our neighborhood Facebook group if anyone would trade homemade cookies for guitar tuning and a beginner lesson.  In the process we met someone new.  A sweet friend gave us low-cost Spanish lessons.  You-tube is now an awesome place for beginning lessons.  And it's free!  And finding a talented teen can also be an inexpensive way to start lessons.

The key is just to ask!  And not just for lessons, a friend of mine found greatly reduced orthodontics by offering to clean the orthodontist's office in an exchange.  Many years ago, our piano was given to us by a beautiful soul at church who heard we were looking for a piano and wanted to see hers go to a loving home.  I am still awed by how God worked that out.  And how cool is it that the brand comes from Korea?

Our parks and rec has been a phenomenal resource for inexpensive lessons--ballet, tap, guitar, gymnastics, golf, and swimming.  I will say that with swimming, if a child is really ready to swim, money is better spent on semi-private lessons.  The group lessons are great for just getting kids used to the water (they spend a fair amount of time holding the wall) and for kids who already know how to swim and will be swimming laps, learning technique.  Swimming lessons aren't cheap, but they are an absolute safety need, especially when living in a state with so many water risks.  In Arizona, a friend with a backyard pool hired a swimming instructor to come and give affordable lessons for neighborhood kids.

Other ideas are to check out books and videos from the library, and grandparents sometimes enjoy providing a gift of lessons.  Local schools and churches often have after-school enrichment, art, music, or sports activities.

Lessons--keep looking, be creative, and find options!

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