Many believe that in order to homeschool their children, you must have a lot of disposable income on hand as it is an expensive thing to do. There is no exact number however on how much it actually costs to homeschool as each family is different. Some do pour a lot of money into curriculum and activities for their children and have large incomes in order to do so. However many families, from all kinds of incomes also homeschool, including families considered at poverty levels. While it is true, having money can be a tremendous help to have in order to take advantage of the many opportunities that can arise, it is not a pre-requisite to offer your children a well rounded, great education in a safe environment, for very little money.
We live in a wonderful era of the Information and Technology age with modern transportation, community festivities and modern communication that create this wonderful learning environment right at your fingertips. All this also aides in being able to learn anywhere, anytime for virtually free or at a very low cost, especially if you combine it with a “throw out” society which makes it a very exciting time to be a homeschooler! While textbooks may be helpful to many families, for many others they are learning there are more exciting ways in which to learn now days and realize they are not even a necessity with so many other learning tools available to them. So where does one turn, in order to homeschool when finances will not allow for expensive, out of budget materials?
Homeschooling On A Budget
Word of Mouth – Talking to friends and families is a great way to start! Let them know you plan on homeschooling and see if they have any materials they may want to donate that they will not use themselves. This could be in the form of toys, games, craft materials, microscopes, books, or anything that could be potentially interesting keeping your children’s interests in mind.
Library – The library should be visited on a regular schedule for any homeschooler; any time spent in libraries is time spent on free education!
Internet – While not free perhaps, considers this as one of those low expense items that should be part of a homeschool. If the small monthly fee is not possible then be sure to visit the library a few times a week so that at least 1 or 2 of those visits can be used for internet access. The internet is really a very valuable tool for research, using free educational sites online such asKhanAcademy, YouTube videos, free worksheet sites and even Starfall for those just starting out learning to read. (Just googleKhanAcademy or Starfall and you will find them!)
Garage Sales/Thrift Stores – Both of these places can provide a gold mine of educational materials for very little money! While you may visit 5 garage sales and find nothing, that next one you stop at could have tons of useful items for a home learning environment! I have found expensive foreign language programs, chemistry sets, nature documentaries, curriculum books and tons more for literally pennies to just a few dollars!
Gifting – For those family members who like getting your children gifts, start asking those gifts to be educational ones such as telescopes, pottery wheels, science kits or your kid’s favorite types of books or board games. Hand out wish lists to the gift givers of the type of things you would love but would have a hard time paying for yourself. Let them know these are the types of gifts you would like your children to receive.
Notebooks – Believe it or not, notebooks purchased at those back to school sales make wonderful homeschool supplies at literally a couple of dollars for 30 notebooks! Instead of printing off worksheets, we use notebooks in my home for journaling different subjects, including keeping math journals! Their math journals have those creating household budgets, estimating grocery bills, keeping weather charts and so much more with a living math approach. Depending on your method of homeschooling you could use a notebook for journals for each subject including science, writing and social studies.
Netflix – While not free, if you have high speed internet you can get unlimited streaming for around $8 a month. Here you can stream unlimited historical movies, historical fictions, nature documentaries and even curriculum instructional DVD’s to watch such as Standard Deviants which cover everything from algebra to the solar system. There are tons which could be watched including cooking or ballistic scientific shows to use in a home classroom setting at a minimal of cost per month.
Outdoors – The outdoors is always free and can make a wonderful part of a school day where tons of learning can occur. Make sure you plan part of each of your school days with an outdoor education in mind. Fresh air, exercise and the natural world make an excellent curriculum all in its own right!
As you can see, we no longer live in the pioneer days where the nearest library may have been a 2 days ride by horse and just was not frequented ever. Nor are we tied down to just our plot of land that must be worked and separated from the rest of the world. We live in a wonderful time where we can be part of as much of the world as we want to be. Learning is everywhere, surrounding us and many times costs us nothing but our passions to learn. While money can be helpful, it is not a requirement and frugality can still be pursued among homeschooling families.
Readers, do you or have you considered homeschooling your children?
Carrie Hetu is not a financial expert, but has been passionate about finances since the age of 19 years old when a neighbor introduced her to taxes. From that time, she has made a point to increase her financial literacy into areas of frugal living, investing, real estate, budgeting and passive income. She currently blogs at Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Simply Homeschooled.