Considering how to finance your homeschool can be overwhelming! There are many curriculum providers that offer complete curriculum in a package. For a new or busy homeschool parent, a curriculum in a box can offer guidance and peace of mind that everything will be covered. This convenience can be pricey, however. Many complete homeschool programs cost $500, $1000, or even more per student. Some cannot even be passed down to a younger student because they include only a temporary online license or are consumable or have a copyright stipulations that only one student may use it. Some programs cannot be legally resold at the end of the year. For many families, the convenience of a complete program is worth the cost, but many families prefer to look at different options.
Here are some ways to homeschool on a budget:
- Use your library. Although a purchased math program is probably necessary, almost everything else you need can be found in a library….interesting readers for all ages and abilities, fascinating picture books, biographies, nature books, and histories on any topic. Most of these are far more interesting than any textbook! Any elementary school science or social studies/history curriculum can easily be pieced together with selections from the library.
- Find a curriculum that your whole family can use together. Many unit study or literature-based curricula are designed to be used with multiple age levels. Instead of having each child work independently, group your children together to learn. That way, you’ll only have one $500+ curriculum to purchase. Sonlight, My Father’s World, and Konos are just a few of the programs that work well for multiple ages. Each child will need his or her own math book and younger children will need reading/phonics program at their own levels.
- Think about resale. If you purchase a popular program that is not consumable, you may be able to resell it when you’re finished with it at half or more of it’s original value. This won’t help you the first year, but eventually, your sales from last year’s curriculum can help to pay for next year’s.
- Buy used. Amazon and eBay are the obvious places to look for used items. Homeschool Classifieds is another great place to look for bargains. Homeschoolers can sell and buy here with no fees.
- Find FREE resources. The internet holds a wealth of interesting and educational material. The trick can be choosing what’s really good and what is not. Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool offers a free, comprehensive Preschool through 8th grade curriculum with many high school resources as well. It offers a day by day schedule using resources from the internet. I don’t have any experience with Easy Peasy, but I know several families who use and recommend it. Khan Academy offers a variety of videos and comprehensive math instruction as well as PSAT and SAT practice. I’ll be blogging more in the near future on free resources that I’ve found.
- Piece together your curriculum. Isn’t one of the advantages of homeschooling an individualized education? Then why buy one complete grade level program that’s designed for the average child, but tailored to none? Investigate your child’s learning styles and find curricula that fit him best. Maybe your child would like a hands-on science program, but you or he would prefer a literature-based history curriculum. Staring at a computer screen all day is just too much for most children (or adults), but maybe one class that is taught and graded online would offer some variety for your child and a break for you. By individualizing subjects and buying used when possible, I’ve often been able to homeschool for $100-$200 a year. I may splurge on something with bells and whistles for one subject while using more economical resources for another.
This month’s Crew Roundup is on the topic of Working with a Tight Homeschool Budget and I’m sure there will be a lot of great ideas. Be sure to click through (after July 15) to read more!