January 12, 2018

Homeschooling On A Budget? Tips and Advice from Homeschool Moms on Free and Inexpensive Resources

Homeschooling On A Budget: Tips and Advice
One of the misconceptions about homeschooling is that it is expensive. Homeschooling one child is one thing, but most homeschooling families have multiple children to teach and plan for! How do you customize an education for each child without breaking the bank? Today I would like to offer up some ideas to keep homeschooling on a budget, and share some advice from other homeschooling moms, about making it an affordable option no matter the size of your family!

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When it comes to getting started with homeschooling, it is so easy to get carried away and then overwhelmed. We think we have to go out and buy XYZ to create a classroom before we can even start!

Lies! LOL

A lot of the reason we think this is because we talk to other homeschoolers. We see their classrooms or hear about what they do and think we must replicate it. But many of them have been homeschooling for awhile. Or have a different situation than you. So don't let comparison be the reason you spend more than you need.

Homeschooling for Free

Did you know that you can homeschool and provide a quality education for almost nothing? It IS possible and there are many people who do it around the country! One of the main reasons this is possible is because of the internet. Nearly every resource you could possibly want is available with a search engine. There are FREE curriculums! Yes, entire curriculums for free.

My friend Margaret says "Ambleside Online is free and most of the books are available free online or audio or through library. Textbooks aren’t needed. Look for good literature and real life experiences!"

Brigitte shares "We're combining this free curriculum (Easy Peasy Homeschool) with another free one in the country we're living in (spanish speaking curriculum). This way we just need a handful of materials and we can concentrate on things my daughter is interested in learning. I think you can keep it simple or get as complicated as you want....and spend little or a lot of money. However, I don't think it's necessary to spend a lot of money."

Another idea is to use FREE Unit Studies as your curriculum. These combine multiple subjects under one theme, and you can teach multiple students at once. I wrote a post all about unit studies that you can check out for more information (What Is Unit Study?).

One of your greatest FREE resources is the LIBRARY. Not only do they have access to computers and the internet, but you have books books books! It doesn't matter WHAT you are studying, I'm sure you will be able to find AMPLE books on the subject at the library. Don't forget their collection of World Books, Encyclopedias, and Almanacs--and Atlas's! Most librarians will also help you find exactly what you need that is appropriate for your children. Our librarians LOVE helping my son's find exactly what they need.

Elaine agrees "Public library - for books, audio books, videos, and free classes. We do lots of inter-library loans. Also, most people are more than willing to freely share/teach their passions if your kids are interested. All it takes is asking them to teach you."

Math is an area where people worry about finding materials for free to use. Fear not! There are two great FREE resources--Khan Academy and YouTube! Yes, these two resources TEACH math at so many levels. Many homeschoolers use them to help reinforce lessons. You can find them as ROKU channels, but also just online. Also, as Elaine says ASK! There are actually quite a few people who have math degrees--OR were or are schoolteachers who are more than willing to help! I recently saw this very thing--a friend had a son who was struggling with his math and she wasn't able to help him. They discovered there was a math teacher in their church and he happily spent an hour with the son going over his work. They just had to ask!

If you go this route, the only expense you may have is pencils, notebooks, paper, crayons...just the basic stuff that comes super cheap at Back-To-School time.

Homeschooling For Small Budget

Okay, so maybe you don't need a totally free curriculum, but you don't have a LOT of money to spend. You have many many options. Here is some advice from other homeschool moms...

Charlotte shares "Its like getting your first house. You do not actually NEED all the fluff to function and function well. All those supplies and boxed curriculums are like a forbidden treasure glittering and beckoning you, but do not fall for it. Stay simple. The library is an absolute asset, buy things from the Dollar Tree, buy things used and remember you never actually NEED the extras... yeah, they're nice... nice sitting on your shelf."

Kate shares "Reuse material. Also, pre-K, KIndergarten, and 1st grade material can be bought at Walmart."

Cindy says "you really DON'T have to buy curricula in the early years."
Get a cheap cookie tray and use it with magnets to sort colors and other activities
Diana agrees: "Get something for reading and math and the rest is free online and/or with library books. Even reading and math has free resources available."

I 100% agree with this for the early years! Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, and Costco. These four stores carry just what you need for the early years. Flashcards, wipe off boards, manipulatives, workbooks, arts n crafts. They are available at these stores! You could totally do pre-K through 2nd grade with materials from these stores, paired with the library.
Find some letter card puzzles at the store and add them to your day
Lots of stores have lace up cards which are great practice for hand and eye coordination

Jessica suggests the "Charlotte Mason method" for inexpensive quality homeschooling resources.

Amy suggests "Buying used (eBay, Amazon), Rod & Staff, Back to School/black Friday Sales, a lot of seasonal consignment sales have homeschool sections now."

Christina says "Shop around for your room and curriculum, view craigslist, yard sales, facebook marketplace, offer up, let go, tag favorites to see if they reduce the cost then make an offer, always offer less than asking, most will come down even more. They all have great items you can use such as craft items, curriculum, paper, pens, storage bins at extremely reasonable prices or even FREE!"

Hiedi a homeschool alumni shares "I totally homeschooled my kids on an almost nothing. I did buy certain workbooks as i felt they were needed and bought a lot of used textbooks. There are a lot of resources online that we used as well. Remember to pass on what you are done with to others as well."

I cannot emphasize this enough---you do NOT need a bright shiny new textbook when someone else has one for sale that they have already used! Used books save you money! Even when a company has a new edition, it doesn't always mean the information has changed enough to necessitate you buying a brand new copy! There are SOOOO many used curriculum groups on Facebook (I'm in THREE!) and they are sold on Amazon, Ebay, and other online sale sites. Ask around! Let people know what you are looking for! Some may even loan the books you need to you.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids on a Budget

Here is another something to remember when it comes to homeschooling costs. What would it cost you to buy all the supplies your children would need for public school? The days of just needing pencils, paper, crayons, and scissors is gone. The supply lists these days are unreal! And when you have more than one child, the costs can quickly escalate--even hitting the Back to School sales!

Victoria shares "With multiple kids I spend hundreds less than what the back to school supply lists require AND I don’t have to stock them back up mid year.Just not needing a lunch box, back pack and new school clothes adds up fast. Plus all those packs of highlighters for no reason. Expo markers for 3 kids is over $20! You just don’t need any of that to homeschool."

Laurie adds "Not to mention you can combine curriculum (core subjects with multiple children). Saves a lot on curriculum!"

Candice says "Honestly, I don't find it that expensive. If you have kids, you usually have crayons and paper. Everyone usually has pencils, glue scissors, etc. That's the basics. I sent my son to a private school for 2 months and that's expensive. I think it was $400 a month plus $50 for bus fee, plus you have to buy school supplies, plus pack a lunch everyday. Some days I bought his lunch at school. Crazy. The cost added up. Much cheaper to be at home. With five kids, I reuse the homeschool program. I do MFW (My Father's World), so all I have to do is purchase new student sheets for each child. I do have to buy my oldest a brand new curriculum. But compared to private school, it's much cheaper. Also, I had to buy school uniforms for school. At home, we may do school work in pajamas. So, that's a cheaper cost as well. I find homeschooling cheaper. Plus, my mother-in-law finds cheap places to buy supplies. She finds packs of paper for 10 cents. There are places you can find to buy things cheaper. You may can find things online for cheaper."

Melissa shares her insight on buying homeschool materials "My decisions are largely driven by whether something can be used over and over for multiple children, since we want four. No matter how great Classical Conversations seems, I can't bring myself to spend $300/year, per child (especially since it doesn't cover all subjects). Maybe if we only had one or two. I also don't really like "memberships" that cost money, like ABCMouse.com, or most consumables. I want to spend my homeschooling dollars on things that will last. (Obviously, there will always be expenses like buying new workbooks/activity sheets for a curriculum you love, but if the core materials can be used over and over, you'll save a lot of money.) By buying used Sonlight curricula, I spent $200 for the kindergarten year (Bible, history, literature, science, math, and language arts) instead of the $800 it would have cost from the website. Even if I spend another $100 buying new activity sheets for subsequent children, the total out-of-pocket will be $300, which is less than $100/child for their kindergarten year...and that's for one of the most notably "pricey" programs on the market."

As a mom with two boys--4 1/2 years apart--I agree with the assessment on purchasing items that I know can be used with multiple children. While I know they may each need their own math curriculum, there are subjects where I am reusing books from my oldest with my youngest! And when I'm done with them, I am selling them used so another family can save money! I rarely purchase something that can only be used with one child.

Here are my current subjects where we have used, are using, or will be using the same thing for both boys: Science (Apologia Young Explorers Physics and Chemistry course), CTC Math (one price for a full curriculum for each child), Life of Fred Math (both boys have worked through the books), IEW Student Intensive Writing, IEW FixIt Grammar, Notgrass History, and IEW Phonetic Zoo Spelling. The additional bonus is that all but one of these can be resold to another family when we are done with them!

One of the BEST online resources for FULL AND COMPLETE curriculum for grades PreK-High School is Schoolhouseteachers.com. For ONE PRICE, you get access for your ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD. Yes, no matter how many kids will be using it. One price accesses the entire site. There are entire curriculums for every subject--including electives! Video lessons and printable worksheets. Lesson plans. Over 360 courses! Even transcript planning. Not to mention the planners you get for free AND access to their recordkeeping website AND access to many more resources. All for one price. I did a video review of SchoolhouseTeachers.com that you can check out on Facebook.

And this month there is a GREAT sale!

Here are the details:
Special sale from 1/3 to 1/31

*$90 per year (regular $179) 
Coupon Code: NEWYEAR18

*$9.95 per month (regular cost $19.95 per month) 

New Members only please and this locks in as your renewal price! :)
Click here to get started! https://tinyurl.com/yacnsc99

Think about it. You could have FULL COURSE CURRICULUM (videos, printables, lesson plans) for your ENTIRE family for $90 per year. Calculate that out by month. By child. No additional textbooks. Complete range of subjects. Will you find a better deal? (if you do, let me know! LOL)

Counting the Costs of Homeschooling

Every year for kicks, I grab the local school supplies list for both my boys. I like to jot the prices down to see how it comes out. I think this year (because my oldest is 6th grade and needed fancier stuff) I would have spent close to $200 on supplies. SUPPLIES! Supplies that would have lasted my homeschool classroom for a few years! And that's not counting the lunch box, backpacks, and new clothes!

Here are some questions I urge you to ask yourself before buying stuff for your homeschool:

1. Is it a necessity or something I just really want?
2. Do I need it right now, or can I wait for back-to-school or homeschool convention sales?
3. Do I really need it new, or can I find it used?
4. Do I need to buy it as a deluxe kit, or could I buy a basic and piece together the other parts for less?
4. How many children will I be able to use it with?
5. Can I resell it when I am done?

I have found that these questions REALLLLLLYYYYY help decrease my costs in my homeschool. This year I saved $175 just by piecing together the materials for my youngest son's history/language arts set. I chose to NOT buy the package the company was selling, and instead either bought the extra things off of Amazon, Rainbow Resource, or had my library get them for me!

The last question--can I resell this?--is also important to me! I try to stick with more popular companies because I know they have a high resale value! This means they are also readily available in the used curriculum groups.

As I wrap up, I want to remind you. Homeschooling is NOT about the money you are saving or spending. No. We aren't homeschoolers for those reasons. Not really. We are homeschooling because we feel passionately that we can provide a top-notch quality schooling to our children based on the fact that we know them better than anyone else. We believe in them more than anyone else does. We love them more than anyone else. We want them to succeed in life more than anyone else.  We want them to flourish without the social pressures the school system is plagued with. Can you really put a price on that? It's priceless--it costs us time more than anything else. And what better use of time is there, then investing PERSONALLY in your children's future to make sure they have the best shot possible to be everything you KNOW they can be?

Have a marvelous week and come back to visit me soon!


Lori said...

Some wonderful advice here. I think the library is the greatest asset for any homeschooling family. - Lori

Kym said...

I love that there are so many quality low- or no-cost ways to get homeschool curriculum now. Thanks for sharing this great collection of ideas and resources! Pinning and passing along!

Annette said...

you have listed some great resources and have done a good job of assuring people that free is possible, just needs a bit of work to pull together. Good stuff!

maryanne said...

The internet provides some incredible free homeschooling resources!