Homeschooling on a Budget
One topic that has come up many many times over the years, is how do you afford to educate your children on a limited income. Or, I cannot possibly homeschool because we can’t afford it. Over the lifetime of our homeschool, we have had lean years and we have had other years where we could afford to buy our hearts desire…. Though, I must admit, I am still very frugal.
So in this post, I would like to share some real resources and ideas that we have put into place in our family. My prayer is that these ideas will be a blessing to you and your families. I hope that if you are unsure how you are going to acquire all your needed supplies for next year, that perhaps some of these ideas will help you. Some will be free ideas, while others will be low cost.
The one thing that you tend to sacrifice when homeschooling on a lean budget, is time. Depending on what kind of homeschooler you are, that will differ. But one of the easiest ways to save money is to do your own planning. When you buy boxed curriculum you are paying for them to do your leg work. So at minimum you can start by not buying boxed curriculum. However, that can still only save you so much. You will need to get creative, and that is where I hope this post will help spark even some other ideas of your own.
One thing that I try to do, is to not allow our days to become just worksheets and school work when money is tight. So I also look for ideas and activities that we can do, that will be fun and educational all at the same time. I will share some of these here.
So work through this entire post, and see what nuggets you find through out that might be a blessing to you and your homeschool. One thing that really helps homeschoolers succeed, are other homeschoolers! If you have tricks that have helped you homeschool on a lean budget, please post a comment and share them with us!!!
A great place to start is a great e-book on currclick that costs $5. It is chock full of freebies that will help your homeschool. http://www.currclick.com/product_info.php?products_id=25765&it=1&
You can find some helpful information on the different homeschool methods here: http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/How_To_Homeschool/Articles.php . I have found that a literature rich, Charlotte Mason type method is one of the most economical ways to homeschool. Here is a website that will explain Charlotte Mason more in depth. http://homemade.truepath.com/ When you use a literature rich method, you can usually acquire books for relatively little money. I have included links later in the post to both free books online as well as to notebooking pages you can use with them for free.
Another way to educate on a lean budget is by using lapbooks, file folder games and making games out of regular household supplies. As well as doing experiments with supplies from around the house. Here is a website that is full of creative ideas, that may spark some for you. http://heartofthematteronline.com/. There are more links in the links section at the bottom if this post to show you how to make file folder games and lapbooks. At a mom's night our homeschool group recently held, onf of our mom's how to make learning games out of common supplies and existing games. For example, you can use a jeopardy game (or make your own) and make up the categories to go along with a unit you have just studied. And then make up the questions, just like on the TV show Jeopardy. The children then can play the contestants, and review all of the facts they have just learned!
As you can see there are many options, you just need to think out of the box. So many times we get stuck in trying to emulate the classroom, that we forget we have many more options available to us. Please take some time looking through this post. I pray that you will find something that will help your homeschool.
How to Find Free or Nearly Free Books and Supplies
One of the best resources is your public library. Not only can you check out for free some awesome resources, you can also watch for their friends of the library sales, and purchase books for dirt cheap. These sales usually last for about a week and they are usually crowded, but you can walk away with bags of books for almost no money. Books are usually 25-50 cents each, and then on the last day they are usually a buck a bag! So I usually go to the sale at least twice. The first day and the last.
Join Staples Teacher rewards program. You will earn a percentage of your purchases back, in the form of a check to spend at staples. In August they have their annual teacher appreciation day. You will get a free bag of goodies on that day. Along with free coffee and donuts. This is a fun morning to spend with fellow homeschool moms! I have received flash drives, calendars planners and more on these days. They also hold raffles on that day for big ticket items. Also, there are no limits on the sale items that day. So if there is an item you want, but normally there is a limit of 3, on that day, teachers will have no limits! And yes, they recognize homeschoolers as teachers! Also, if you turn in your used ink cartridges there for your printer, you will receive $3 per cartridge. They will send you a check once a month to spent at Staples.
Watch the back to school ads. Walmart, Target, Staples, even sometimes the grocery and drugstores, will have their art supplies and pens and paper, etc.. for dirt cheap. I stock up once a year. I do my best to not have to buy these at any other time of year.
Free Curriculum Online
One of my favorite things to recommend when people are having trouble acquiring curriculum, is Old Fashioned Education (OFE). http://oldfashionededucation.com/fullcurriculum.htm
Some of you have heard me discuss this before, however, I have also had people who have been confused on how it works, so I thought I would take some time to explain.
OFE was designed by Miss Maggie, a homeschool mom of I believe 2 boys. Very active boys. And at the same time her family had little or no money to commit to the education fund. So she had to be creative. And that creativity is now blessing thousands of homeschool families. It has even blessed mine.
As with any other homeschool product you can tweak it to fit your individual needs. But here is how it works.
Miss Maggie has designed curriculum complete with lesson plans all the way up to the 11th grade. Generally you will still be required to purchase a math or science curriculum of your choice. However some years, especially the younger years, she does offer science, an there is a math program available, however I found it to be confusing and always purchased my own.
How does Miss Maggie offer this, well she is not going to send you any books! These are all available online. She has scoured the internet and these books are all books that have lost their copyright, which means they are written prior to 1925. For example, 10th grade history, they are using the text, Beacon Lights of History Vol 6. When you click on that title, it will take you to the “Project Gutenberg” site, where you can download the book, to read or print.
How to implement: You have a few choices, you can use her program as she has designed it. You have the choice, of printing out the books or you can read them on the computer. It is up to you. There are some very large books, and some very thin ones. Now if you do not want to follow it exactly how she has designed it for the entire year, then she has also supplied all the resources by subject. So you can pick and choose what you would like to use. There are some real gems in there!
If you find yourself in a real bind to come up with curriculum, and perhaps even if you don’t, check out Old Fashioned Education.
Educational Internet Freebies
Here I have compiled a list of great freebies that you can use in your homeschool. No matter your homeschool method, one or more of these are bound to be helpful!
Free software for learning mnultiplication. http://multiplication.com/
At this website you will find two math videos, pre algebra and basic math, as well as a game. All available to download for free. http://www.xpmath.com/videos/math_videos.php
This is not free, however, there are 2 free programs and all 7 programs will only cost $4.30 Math and Language Arts.
Online Grammar and Writing Handbook by Scott Foresman for grades 1-6. These are complete books that are on PDF. http://www.sfreading.com/resources/ghb.html
This is a listing of G.A. Henty books that are available to print or download.
Phonics and reading comprehension
Free online spelling curriculum
Free Audio Books Online
Answers in Genesis offers many of their science books for free. These are the same books that are available for purchase. So check here to see if there is one you cannot afford, maybe it is on the list! http://www.answersingenesis.org/cec/online_resources.asp
Seterra is geography software that is available to download for free.
Online Typing curriculum http://kids.learn2type.com/NewUser
Free Spanish Lessons
These are notebooking pages you can print out for free that would go with an array of subjects.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary Online
Free Charlotte Mason E-books on the left http://simplycharlottemason.com/
Too many wonderful things to list!
File Folder Games and Lapbooking
Ambelside Help, this was actually designed after Katrina, however there are lots of great resources listed.
Old Fashioned Education
Flash cards, videos and games
I pray that some of these will help you in your homeschool!!!