At first, homeschooling can quickly become quite expensive. You’re pressured into buying all of the extra materials to truly be the perfect homeschool parent, and the endless options can soon become daunting. The truth is, homeschool doesn’t have to be expensive, or even traditional, to be quality and for your kids to learn.
1. Buy used.
This of course is the most obvious way to save money. Slugbooks is a great way to quickly search for the cheapest deal online. Simply type in the textbook name, and multiple sites and their prices will come up. There are hundreds of Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling curriculum online, and of course Amazon, Barnes and Noble, AbeBooks, and eBay are the great classics. Homeschool Classifieds offers homeschoolers a way to buy and sell curriculum. Garage sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, local children’s resales, and friends are other ways to buy used.
Buying online may seem scary, however, if you use Paypal’s Protection Program, if you never receive your curriculum, you can get fully refunded. (Paypal takes claims very seriously.) I personally have never had a problem with scams, and I buy and sell all the time.
Also, sell old curriculum or books. Selling old curriculum is a great way to save up for buying new.
2. Use older editions of textbooks or teacher’s editions.
Typically, you can use current editions of student textbooks and older editions of the teacher’s books without any problems. For the most part, new editions simply have a new cover and the material is rearranged, with perhaps a few paragraphs added here and there. I recently just saved over $160 by buying a slightly older edition textbook.
3. Teach Without a Textbook
Teaching without a textbook may require a bit more planning and searching, but with an abundance of free unit studies on the web, it’s definitely possible even with a busy schedule. Teaching without a textbook is cheaper than alternatives, makes learning easier to remember (as you’re actually learning instead of simply memorizing facts from a book), and from my experiences, will make learning long-term easier.
Here are some of my favorite free/frugal ways to learn without a textbook:
- Field trips
- Real life experiences
- Teaching (You learn better and are more likely to memorize something when you’re teaching it.)
- Creating a PowerPoint or an iMovie trailer for an animal/person/event is a great way for kids to learn their way around popular computer programs, as well as learn about that bit of history/science/math!
- Music (For history, music from a certain time period is a great way to get a feel for the time period. Also, learning things like the Periodic table from a song is easier than textbook memorization.)
If you’re looking for more ideas, here are 100+ ways to get you started on teaching without a textbook.
4. Search blogs for unit studies.
The internet is full of free and low-cost unit studies. Have a child interested in horses? Sea creatures? The American Civil War? Google up “horse unit study,” “American Civil War study,” etc. The possibilities are endless, and it is a good way to weave in student-led learning.
5. Go shopping for school supplies after your local school starts.
After school starts, stores typically mark school supplies down. Since we normally start later than public schools anyway, this has saved us quite a bit of money.
6. REALLY use your library
Our library has so much more to offer than books. It offers movies, InterLibrary Loans, a free foreign language program, and so many other resources, absolutely free. Be sure to ask to make sure you’re getting the most out of your library. Most librarians are always happy to help!
7. Combine subjects.
Overlapping subjects (spelling and reading, reading and history, history and science, etc.) is the easiest, most affordable, fastest, and most memorable way to learn.
8. Teach similar-aged kids together.
It’s not uncommon for homeschoolers to teach a 5th grader and a 6th grader at the same time. Many curriculums (like Sonlight and Writeshop) use this method, specifically for history and science. And really, why not? It saves time, energy, and money.
If you like science and your homeschooling neighbor is an English fan, trade resources. I am a HUGE fan of bartering.