Sometimes I still feel like a newbie homeschooler! Especially when I’m looking for new materials with a limited budget. Today’s post has been written by Leah Courtney, who has been homeschooling longer than I. We were both on the Homeschool Review Crew for three years. Read on for her tips of how to homeschool frugally.
There’s just no way around it. Homeschooling costs money. It’s typically less expensive than enrolling your children in a private school, but it can be much more expensive than a free public school.This cost can cause some parents who want to homeschool to pause.
“Can I really afford this?” “How are we going to buy curricula?””Is there any way to homeschool without spending all this money?” If these questions are on your mind, here are five ways to help you homeschool more frugally.
5 Ways to Homeschool Frugally
Use Free Homeschool Sites
Those of us who are choosing to homeschool in the internet age are so fortunate because we have thousands of free resources at our fingertips. There are sites with free curricula packages and sites with free printables. You can find elective classes for high schoolers or video classes for math.
The important thing with all of these free sites is that you find a way to utilize them well. I would suggest making a spreadsheet (because I’m a spreadsheet person) with each school subject written across the top and all sites with classes or printables for that site in columns. Then when you need materials for a subject, you’ll know where to look.
Look For Ways To Buy Used Materials
You don’t have to purchase your homeschool materials brand new. Look for places to purchase used curricula and to sell your curricula in exchange. I’ve used Amazon’s seller program. It’s very simple, and you don’t have to pay anything up front. You only pay a percentage when materials are sold. I’ve had friends to buy and sell on Ebay, but their rules are a little more complicated, I think.
If you want to buy and sell curricula locally, look on Craigslist or for a local Facebook homeschooling group. Or google to see if you have a curricula consignment shop near you. Occasionally I can find a homeschool curricula fair nearby. At these events, homeschool moms set up a table with used curricula they’re selling. Those are great because I can go in person and shop, actually getting to see what we’re purchasing.
Use Curricula and Resources You Can Pass Down
I have four children that I’m homeschooling, and I learned early on that it was much more cost-effective to choose non-consumable curricula, things I could pass down from one child to the next. If I pay $100 for a consumable workbook, that may not be a good deal. But if I’m paying for a DVD course and non-consumable workbook, I can pass that down and use it for four children instead of one.
Thankfully many homeschool curricula companies realize this and will offer additional workbooks for a course at a reduced price. Then we only have to purchase the main part of the curricula once and purchase additional, less expensive workbooks as additional kids come along.
It’s also a good idea to check the photocopy rules and restrictions on your curricula. Some homeschool companies have generous copying policies that allow you to make copies of the workbook for family members. This has been great for sharing curricula or passing it down.
Utilize Your Library
If you are using a literature-based curricula, make sure you check your local library for resources. Not all library systems are equal, I know. And I’ve talked to moms who don’t have a good situation at their local libraries. But many librarians are eager and willing to help.
Even if it doesn’t seem that the library has many of the books and resources you need, check out the interlibrary loan system. Our local system can get books, DVDs, and audiobooks from all over the state. I search on the interlibrary loan, request the materials, and pick them up from my home library in a few days. So don’t forget to ask if your library has a similar program.
Share With Other Homeschoolers
We homeschoolers are a sharing bunch. There have been many times when I needed a book or resource and asked in our local support groups, thinking I would purchase it from someone, only to have a mom offer to just let us use it. I, in turn, have tried to share with other homeschool moms. We’ve passed on books, DVDs, and math manipulatives. So if you’re looking for a particular resource, try asking around other homeschoolers you know. You may just find someone willing to share.
Homeschooling can get costly. But it doesn’t have to. Use these ideas to homeschool a little more frugally.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.