How to Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today is Part 2 of my Homeschooling on One Income series. Part 1 described how our family manages daily living on one income. Before homeschooling, it is essential to work out a budget plan for day to day living if you have a limited income.
One of the many arguments I see coming from opponents of homeschooling is the myth that only affluent children can be taught at home because of the costs involved. This is laughable to me. We homeschool an extremely large family on a welder’s income, so there goes that idea. To make matters worse, many prospective homeschoolers buy into this reasoning and begrudgingly enroll their children in public school because they feel they can’t afford it.
I’m here to tell you today that, no matter the homeschooling method, there are enough resources out there that, given the right amount of research, almost anyone can afford to homeschool.

Here are resources that we have used for homeschooling that have been very affordable, if not downright free!

– There is such an abundance of free homeschool printables covering pretty much every subject online that I really could just stop right here. There are also wonderful unit studies available- again, for free! Take time and look through homeschool blogs. There are so many writers who are excited to share their wonderful ideas with you at no cost.

– I have gotten my younger children workbooks at Dollar Tree. Yes, Dollar Tree. This store is actually where I get most of my school supplies throughout the year.

– More expensive does not always mean better. Do your homework. Our family used Konos unit studies for years. The initial price tag of $110 might sting a little (although this is considered inexpensive compared to other curricula), but you have to look at the big picture. There is enough material to cover 2 1/2 years of schoolwork, and there are activities included from K-8. So this is perfect to use with multiple children; you could even have the younger children go back through it again when they’re older because there’s that much material in there.

– Instead of buying Language Arts curriculum, use lapbooking to fulfill that area. And I don’t necessarily mean those lapbooking worksheets that you print out and just have them fill in. Let them decide what they will put in it. Encourage them and give them ideas, but let them have the final say. I promise you, they will enjoy it so much more, and they will remember more.

– Don’t forget the library! Even before we started unschooling, the library provided the abundance of our learning tools. It’s not just for books anymore! (although that’s my favorite part :))Our library has movies, music, free online foreign languages through Mango Languages, story times, and toys that you can borrow and take home. Devin and I always jokingly say that if the library starts selling food, we’re moving in!

– Buy used. Ebay, Craigslist, and Amazon are but three of dozens of places where used curriculum can be bought and sold.

– Let life be your curriculum! That’s right…life…because every waking minute of your child’s life…of our lives…we are learning. Let them explore! Let them collect rocks and salamanders and leaves! Teach them to use search engines (also free!) to identify and classify their finds. Even watching the dreaded TV will provide learning. (I’m not one to let them watch unlimited TV, but I will allow it 1-2 hours a day if they wish to watch it. Sometimes they don’t.) Just the other day, I overheard Caollin correctly use a scientific term that I knew I didn’t teach her. Where did she learn it? Spongebob!

This is how we’ve afforded to homeschool in our household. We are so blessed to live in a society in which we can find an abundance of learning resources in as little as the click of a mouse. So before you nix the idea of homeschooling for financial reasons, I say stop. Take a step back, and rethink it. The world is at your feet.

What are some ways that you have cut costs in homeschooling? Leave a comment…you just might give the advice someone desperately needs!

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Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

14 thoughts on “How to Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank”

  1. I like that you did this series because one of the reasons that we hesitate to homeschool is because of the scary thought of going down to one income. We are trying to figure a way to make it work now, though. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I know that looking through homeschool curriculum can be so overwhelming. Between the huge assortment of choices and some of the really high price tags, it can be enough to scare someone away. That’s why I felt it was so important to write this.

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  3. Shelly,

    Yes! There are so many wonderful free resources available on the Internet. We hardly ever need to buy anything. I usually just buy books we can’t borrow from the library. Most times I buy Kindle versions so we can all have our own copies for one small price. Youtube is wonderful too. I’ve found so many movies, mini-series, documentaries etc there.

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  4. Absolutely! I’m sure we spend less on homeschool materials than some parents do on all the expenses that come with public school (I’m so glad I don’t have to do any fundraisers!) My latest favorite frugal homeschool hack is to have my younger kids watch the 8th grade science DVD lessons along with my oldest. They love it and I feel it gives them a great start on earth science.

    Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday! I’m featuring your post this week.

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  5. Thanks so much for the link up and for featuring my post! That’s a great idea with the science DVD. My younger kids enjoyed watching my 9th grader’s lab DVD, Learning by osmosis, right?

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  6. I’m really big on buying used curriculum. I spend several months scouring the online used book sources like homeschool classifieds and facebook and then I make a trip to Houston (hour and a half away) to go to the used book store. After that I buy whatever else is needed new online. I’m sure I save close to 50% each year!

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    1. I’ve been blessed to have people from church give me their old curriculum- really good stuff like A Beka. Otherwise, I use unit studies because not only is it easier to homeschool multiple children that way, it’s cheaper! I also really love the Life of Fred books which are really different AND inexpensive.

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