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Tips For Homeschooling Inexpensively

Tips For Homeschooling Inexpensively

By Fran Wisniewski

Resource Media

Homeschooling can be very expensive but it can also be very inexpensive! Homeschooling can cost almost nothing if you already have the following items:

  • Craft Supplies (including paper and pencils/pen)
  • Library Card
  • Computer with an Internet Connection and printer (optional)

Having a computer with a printer and Internet connection is not vital, but it does make homeschooling a lot easier! Craft supplies are a must, as is a library card.

Budget Homeschool

How and where to acquire materials to
homeschool inexpensively using any approach:

The best way to homeschool is to do what comes naturally for your family. So, whether you decide to follow the standards by using a curriculum, homeschool eclectically, use a child-centered approach, or unschool, to suit your family's needs, there are inexpensive ways to accomplish this.

  1. Use the library. (Check out books and sign-up for programs.) Remember, if your library doesn't have the book you want or need, you can fill out a book request form or get the book from another library with Inter-library loan! [Library of Congress Loan Program]
  2. Find out your state's standards on the Internet. Call the Superintendent or local school and ask for a copy of the basic requirements for the grade level needed. A fee may be required for this service.
  3. Ask a teacher for advice.
  4. Borrow, "What Your ? Grader Needs to Know," or some other like series from the library or a friend; often times, the series goes up to 8th grade. Purchase The Comprehensive Curriculum book from Costco, K-Mart, Sam's Club or from a bookstore to use as a guide. This series goes up to 6th grade. Separate subjects can also be purchased at bookstores. McGraw Hill has a Spectrum series that covers all testing areas up to 8th grade.
  5. Purchase the, "Learn At Home" series each year up to 6th grade.
  6. Buy used curriculum from homeschooling swaps/sales. Check out online sales and auctions as well.
  7. Unit studies can be found for free all over the Internet and they are easy to make once you get the hang of how they work. Unit Studies cover most subject areas, although math seems to be the most challenging area to cover for some homeschoolers. Many people use a math supplement to make sure their children are getting enough. Learn how to create your own unit study
  8. Borrow, rent or swap with other homeschoolers.
  9. Keep the books you use for siblings.
  10. Use online lesson plans (Discovery School, First School, Time for Kids, Scholastic, Ed-World, Lesson, ect).
  11. Visit parks, beaches, historical areas, ect.
  12. Go to hobby and craft stores: look for clearance items and open-end craft supplies.
  13. Find mentors, volunteer or arrange apprenticeships.
  14. Purchase magazine subscriptions or borrow them from the library.
  15. Find educational programming on TV, or use videos.
  16. Use computer programs.
  17. Go to yard/garage sales.
  18. Make regular stops at your local thrift shops, Good Will, or the Salvation Army.
  19. Check out your local discount book and closeout stores.
  20. Go to discount day at an educational store such as, "Teach 'em A Lesson".
  21. Use Adult-Ed classes for your older students.
  22. Use free online courses, printables, and resources.
  23. Sign up for free educational e-Zines, like Clickschooling.
  24. Use the newspaper or online news articles.
  25. Use community programs. (4-H, Girl/Boy scouts, after-school programs, festivals, fairs, re-enactments, Homeschooler discount days ect.)
  26. Try project-based learning.
  27. Purchase a family membership to a museum, zoo, or park.
  28. Offer to help friends and family when they are cleaning house.
Budget Homeschool

Reasons to Homeschool Inexpensively

  1. Sometimes curriculums and books are purchased and you realize that they are not suiting your child's/family's needs. Purchasing them inexpensively won't hurt your bank account as much.
  2. Sometimes you find that your child has outgrown a curriculum halfway through a school year! This sometimes leads to double curriculum purchase. Keeping costs low will help reduce the stress of purchasing more materials.
  3. Your budget will go further.
  4. Keeping curriculum and book purchases low cost, will allow you the freedom to purchase more worthwhile things such as a better craft sets, or a family membership.
  5. Children will need to be more creative when they are learning new things and to think, "out-of-the-box" if they do not have everything available to them.
  6. Your child's research skills will get better.
  7. Your child will spend more time with a topic, which will naturally lead to better understanding.
  8. Your child will become more independent.
  9. More flexibility.
  10. Your child will not be locked into one grade level. If your child needs 1st grade math and 5th grade reading materials, you can provide it.
  11. If your child "gets it," you'll be less stressed about completing every page.
  12. Your child can explore books and materials that may not be in his/her "grade/age" range.
  13. You do not have to follow any other plan but your own.
  14. You can create your own curriculum based on your child's needs.
  15. You can follow your child's interests by using a child-centered approach.
Budget Homeschool

Disadvantages of Homeschooling Inexpensively

  1. More time is needed for research
    1. A purchased curriculum will come with most of the items needed. This won't save you money, but will save you: time buying extras, figuring out how things fit together, and how you will supplement needed items. Also, finding things a little bit at a time will be more time consuming because you'll need to search for items and wait for things to become available.
  2. Great bargains add up and you can over buy
    1. Finding great bargains can add up, and having too many resources can really overwhelm a household! Set a limit for how much you are willing to spend before going to a book sale, discount store, or garage sale, and take only that amount with you; try not to make deals!
    2. Before making a purchase, ask your child if they're really going to use the item and try to gage their interest level. If your child doesn't seem very interested in the item, you might want to pass, otherwise you could wind up buying something that will never be used! Having materials in your home that your child isn't going to use is a waste of money and space.
Budget Homeschool

How to Reach Across the Curriculum and
Still Homeschool Inexpensively

Type of Media To Use

Subject Web/Software DVD/VHS/TV Audio CD
Math Cool Math
Math is Fun
Math Cats
LeapFrog Math Circus
The Story of Math
Math Video Tutor
Division Rap
Multiplication Rap
Googol Power
Science How Stuff Works
Science News
Cool Science
Bill Nye Science
Dr. Art Science
Way Cool Science
History History Channel
Kids History
Liberty's Kids
American Colonies
Celebrate America
Don't Know Much
America Beautiful
Geography Carmen Sandiego
Carmen Sandiego
National Geographic Don't Know Much
Social Studies World and I Travel Videos Listen to music from other counties and cultures
Reading Read Classics Reading Rainbow Audio Books
Handwriting Typing Tutor Programs Shining Light Dictate a story
Creative Writing Word Processor Continue a story after seeing a movie  
Grammar Chomp Chomp Schoolhouse Rock Grammar Step by Step
Spelling Spelling Easy
Garfield Spelling
Spelling Match
Use closed caption TV Spelling Ace
Talking Dictionary
Music Kids Radio Online Watch an orchestra
Music Everywhere
Listen to Classical music
Art Publisher Painting Lesson
Interactive Art
Foreign Language Language program
Watch a familiar foreign movie Listen to music in a different language

Activities and Print

Subject Games/Activity/Field trips Printed Materials
Math Tri-Ominoes, Pattern blocks, Look at architecture Puzzle-Mania
Science Orlando Sci. Center, experiment, Gardening Game Books with Science Experiments
History Visit Museum of Science Biographies of famous people
Geography Visit parks, do map puzzles and look at globes Nation Geographic Society Magazine
Social Studies Heritage Study, go to fairs and festivals Time for Kids
Reading Phonics Game Books, magazines
Handwriting Calligraphy Handwriting books and Donna Young
Creative Writing Story Starters
Decorate paper
Ghost Writer
How to Write
Grammar Mad Libs Writing with Style Style manual
Spelling Spell-it, hangman Dictionary
Music Go to a concert or a musical Learn to read sheet music
Art Visit Art Galleries
The Worldwide Art Directory
Read Art Books
Art Book Reviews
Foreign Language Take a class; study with a friend Purchase books and magazines from other countries

*Many of the items linked here are available on loan from your local library.

Tip: Set a budget for the year and stick to it. If there is anything left over, plan a trip, buy that "much wanted" item or add just enough to create a new budget for the same amount. Strive to use less each year or to get more for your money!

Copyright 2007© Fran Wisniewski for Natural Learner