You CAN homeschool for free. You CAN homeschool for cheap. Here’s how:
- Use what you’ve got: Your homeschooling friends’ hand-me-down Reading curriculum, added to that Hooked on Phonics box you bought for $5 at a yard sale last summer works just as good as any $350 packaged Reading curriculum. Beginning math skills don’t have to be learned by counting $12-per-set “counting bears” – you can use a bag of beans from your pantry!
- Borrow: If you’re a member of a homeschooling group, ask around to see if someone isn’t using something for a year, and if you can borrow it and give it back when you’re done. Many families keep multiple levels of curriculum to use for their younger children, and if there’s a year it’s going to be sitting on a shelf, perhaps you can just borrow it (and take really good care of it). Many homeschooling families are glad and eager to share.
- Take advantage of all free things: The public library can be your main resource for Reading material – use the internet to research unit ideas to go along with the books you borrow. This is exactly what most school teachers do – basal reading curriculums are simply multiple books inside one huge basal, and teachers have teaching guides to help them plan the units to go along with them. There are also websites and books (Home Learning Year by Year by Rupp, Homeschool Your Child for Free by Gold & Zielinski, or Homeschooling on a Shoestring by Morgan & Allee for example) which can give you an idea of books that appropriate or recommended by grade level.
- Shop for gently used. Local bookstores sometimes sell used curriculum, and there are multiple websites that can be great resources (eBay, HomeschoolClassifieds, Amazon, for example).
- Shop sales or group buys. Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op lets you participate in group buys, for example. And be sure to sign up for your favorite curriculum’s email lists, and buy when you receive a sale offer in your inbox.
- Online resources: They’re abundant. There are so many websites that offer free activities, lesson plans, or methods of teaching different subjects. Just do a Google (or Swagbucks) search for “______ lesson plans” or “3rd grade _______ activities” and see what pops up! You’ll be set for weeks with ideas and resources.
- Online learning games: these will reinforce what you’re teaching, and many are free (Starfall, FunBrain, for example). Most are very affordable (Time4Learning, EnchantedLearning, for example).
- Low-cost field trips: Check your local museums and parks for free or reduced admission days or homeschool opportunities. Plan your attendance on such days, and you’ll often save 50-75%.