I’ve always been very frugal—shopping sales, couponing, cooking from scratch, and so on. In the past several years, my financial situation has been such that I HAD to save money where I could because there just hasn’t been money for “extras.” And of course, this philosophy extends to homeschooling!
To look at the cost of many homeschool curriculum packages, especially when considering buying for several children, one might think that homeschooling had to be prohibitively expensive. Now some curriculum packages are great! They simplify planning and give parents a solid framework to work with. But for those who can’t afford them, or who just choose to go a different route, there are many less expensive options. Here are some of the ways we have homeschooled inexpensively:
- Use the library. If I had to, I could use library resources exclusively for reading instruction, science, and history/social studies. Even when using another curriculum, supplementing with library books can be a valuable addition. Many libraries even have foreign language programs that are available for check-out or accessible online.
- Buy partial curricula. We used (and loved) Sonlight Curriculum for several years. I bought the teacher’s guides and the books that our library didn’t have (or that we didn’t already own). I would have loved the thrill of opening a box packed full of Sonlight books, but couldn’t rationalize the expense. Sonlight makes is a little harder to do this now, and their manuals are more expensive than they used to be, but this is still a way to use a particular curriculum and save some money.
- Scholastic books—As a homeschooler, you can sign up for a school account and get great deals on scholastic book orders. Most months, they offer $10-$20 worth of free books with a $20 order as well as bonus points that are redeemable for more books.
- Shop for used curricula (ebay, homeschoolclassifieds.com) or discounted curricula (Rainbow Resource, Timberdoodle).
- Re-use! Much of what Emily is using now was purchased for my older children.
- Use online resources. Schoolhouse Teachers is a great resource for only $12.95 a month ($3 for the first month); Educational game sites like ZooWhiz or Always Ice Cream/Clever Dragons are inexpensive or even free for limited accounts.
- Schoolhouse Review Crew—Through my reviewing with the Schoolhouse Crew, I’ve had to spend very little for school in the past few years and have tried lots of books and programs that may have been out of my budget otherwise. It’s a lot of work, but has been a great blessing to me!
My older children attended public high school which, in our area at least, is anything but free! Many of the upper level (“not required”) classes such as AP sciences had $20-$40 fees. Theater and dance programs had $200 fees plus fund-raising (yuck!). Cheaper than outside lessons, but still pricey. Then, there’s the gas expense of driving kids to school each day (no bus service here). I know I spend less on homeschooling than I paid for public school!