You CAN homeschool for free. You CAN homeschool for cheap. Homeschooling on a tight budget? Here’s how:
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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 $20-per-set counting bears – you can use a bag of beans from your pantry!
Borrow: If you’re a member of a homeschooling group or co-op, 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: There are lots of free homeschool curriculum online options. The public library can be your main resource for Reading material – use the internet to research free 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. Check out Facebook groups like Homeschool Curriculum Free for Shipping too!
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). There are used curriculum groups on Facebook that are nationwide, as well as brand-specific groups, and local buy/sell/trade groups – just do a Facebook search to find them!
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. Many of my favorite curriculum publishers offer deep discounts in January-April, and that’s often when I’ll make my purchases for the coming year.
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. Or, if you don’t want to take the time to search, just see what I’ve researched already FOR you on my Pinterest boards – I’m kinda picky and don’t pin junk. I’ve also listed the best free homeschooling curriculum resources here if you’d like to see them, I update them often with new things I’ve found – only the best stuff makes it to those lists.
Online learning games: these will reinforce what you’re teaching, and many are free (Starfall, FunBrain, for example). Most are very affordable (ABC Mouse, EnchantedLearning, for example). I have collected a bunch of good educational apps and online games on my Pinterest boards too, and keep adding to them there.
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%. There are many ways you can visit local attractions as a frugal field trip.
Do you attempt to homeschool for free or frugal? What tips do YOU have for us?