Homeschooling on the Cheap

4 years ago

A woman recently visited my blog (Hello Lou Lou!) and talked about how she feels she could join the homeschoolers if homeschooling was more affordable.  It got me to thinking about how to make homeschooling cheaper.  Of course, if a household needs both incomes, that takes precedent and changes everything.  Although I know I would rather suffer with a single income, if possible, to keep my kids at home.  However, I also know I am very fortunate to be married to a wonderful man who is able to support our home financially on his own.

SO, with the caveat that I'm not presumptuously addressing two-income homeschool families, as I have no experience with that, I have some tricks for keeping your homeschool experience on the cheap, er, inexpensive.

Use the library.  I am convinced that a child who loves the library and who reads current magazines, historical literature, non-fiction and fiction at the library can't help but come out of that experience EDUCATED.  Learning how to learn, learning where to find resources.  All of these things are a vital part of becoming educated.  The library can be a very dynamic and engaging place.  Our library has tons of activities that are free or cheap, including excellent book clubs for children or adults.  Librarians can be an invaluable resource for finding materials and information.  Libraries also tend to have access to books and stuff from their entire library system and can, often, find materials for you.  Not to mention: you can also get free music!

Your PC is, in my opinion, one of the best source of free or cheap learning materials.  You will find your child can learn typing, programming, art, spelling, and almost any subject imaginable with games on disc.  We even own an entire encyclopedia on disc.  I'm pretty sure my kids learned some basic problem solving skills from a Clifford the Big Red Dog game they used to play.

Free on-line resources.  I'm not going to list them here, but there are so many excellent online resources that are free or cheap, I'm sure a child could find themselves highly educated by using nothing more than a laptop, the world wide web, and a few well-chosen websites.  News sources, history, source documents, art, maps.  You name it, you can find it online.  Seriously!  Entire websites exist to aid the frugally-minded homeschooler.

Used curriculum is the most obvious resource.  I have a favorite used material website, cleverly called "Homeschool Classified Ads" that I frequent whenever I'm looking for something to add to the library for cheap.  Use it well.  I refused to even share my secret site for years because of my stingy streak.  Trade, barter, buy used stuff.  With a little inventiveness, you can find ways to get the materials you need.  Remember, where there's a will, there's a way!

Television.  Yes, I said it.  Television.  Although our family is No-TV, there are some great shows on PBS, news, documentaries, etc, that can be used to supplement your child's lessons. 

Your very own community.  Community theater, banks, emergency services, parks, libraries, universities and colleges, volunteer activities, local politics, shopping experiences, local hobby clubs, museums, conventions, stay-cations, gardens, and more.  All of these activities offer amazing opportunities for learning and for finding areas of interest in your family and with your child.  My kids have participated in community theater, gone on a zillion interesting tours, attended local political forums, become members of local hobby clubs, and attended special lectures of all sorts.  The only limitation is your own ability to research!

Being frugal, itself, is an ongoing lesson in and of its self.  The fun of finding great and unique resources is a constant source of pride for our family.  Frugality, simplicity, ingenuity, and budgeting ARE lessons!  Take it from a book horse:  less IS more.  Also lessons:  all household maintenance and upkeep chores and activities.  
  

Family employment.  I know of some families who have at-home small businesses or community businesses who have the family play a part in the running of the business.  While this may not be for every family, I have seen several very close families who work together.  Including our family!
   

And finally, my favorite part of homeschooling:  create your own materials!  In general, I use textbooks with the kids or I make my own units and study materials.  If you have the internet, Microsoft Word, and a printer, you could be set!

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It's worth remembering, research shows that how much you spend on homeschool does not affect what your child achieves. There is no evidence to suggest that expensive curricula is a better way to educate a child than the cheaper stuff.
Even without a computer (though you already have access to one if you are reading this!), it is absolutely possible to homeschool on a shoestring!

Actually, I had another thought.  In this country, we consider cable, cell phones, and eating out to be the norm.  In fact, did you know, these things are EXTRAS!  lol  Extras that totally suck up extra funds.  Our family has not had cable or satellite in over ten years...  You frugal families out there know just what I am talking about.  There is a real sense of pride in getting it done on  the cheap!

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