Family & Education

Homeschooling the Low-Cost Way

BY Karen Doll TIMEJanuary 24, 2022 PRINT

A single online search for homeschooling resources will turn up myriad books, curriculum packages, and resources created specifically for homeschoolers. Of course, they all look amazing, so your wish list grows. However, depending upon the number of children you plan to teach, expenses can add up quickly. But I have good news for you: You can homeschool successfully and provide your children with a well-balanced quality education while keeping costs low because there are also myriad budget-friendly resources available.

Invest in a Good How-to-Homeschool Guide

The most valuable homeschooling resource for parents is a good how-to-homeschool guide. Let me shine the spotlight on a few excellent choices. “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise walks you step-by-step through the process of teaching your children based on each child’s developmental stage and capacity to comprehend specific subject matter.

Dr. Ruth Beechick’s “The Three R’s” and “You Can Teach Your Child Successfully” are based on common sense and the belief that parents can teach their children best. And “Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum” by Rebecca Rupp helps you customize your homeschool program to meet each child’s needs.

You’ll refer to your how-to guide often throughout each year, and it will become a cherished resource and pay for itself before you know it.

Be sure to check out your local library, as most of them will have these top-rated homeschool guides. This way you can borrow the book(s), take notes on what you need, and renew, if necessary—all without spending a dime.

Follow a Scope and Sequence

A scope and sequence is basically a chart that shows you what to teach and when. Two great sites to find free scope and sequence charts specific to homeschoolers are SchoolhouseTeachers.com (K–12) and HewittLearning.org (K–8). Simply download the chart, print it out, and you have a priceless map for charting your home education course. Now choose from the free book and material options that you feel will best help each child to accomplish the objectives for his or her grade level.

I found that by following a scope and sequence chart, I was much less tempted to spend additional money on any extra homeschooling gems that just happened to catch my eye throughout the year.

Take Advantage of Free Homeschooling Materials

Let’s talk freebies. Don’t you just love that phrase? It certainly makes me smile. Your first stop should be a visit to some of these all-time favorites among the homeschooling community.

Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies (HomeschoolGiveaways.com) is a mega-site owned by homeschool mom Carrie Fernandez. You could literally spend days perusing this site with its vast amount of general homeschool planning, organization materials, curriculum reviews, tons of unit studies, teaching resources for preschoolers through high school students, parenting encouragement, and even recipes.

DIYHomeschooler.com has tons of free ebooks, unit studies, and The Finds—links to a wide variety of interesting and engaging educational activities. At FreedomHomeschooling.com, Sarah May, owner and homeschool mom, has gathered the best of the best free homeschooling curriculum sites all together in one place. Some other favorites are FreeHomeschoolDeals.com, Homeschool.com, A2Z Homeschooling.com, HomeschoolingOnAShoestring.com, and miscellaneous educational sites from NASA, National Geographic Kids, Smithsonian Learning Lab, Mensa for Kids, Funbrain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Plimoth Patuxet Museums, and many more. And speaking of museums, many, such as the Louvre in Paris, offer virtual tours.

If you’re looking for free classes, look no further than Khan Academy, Discovery K12, and Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.

Also, public libraries across the country now allow you to borrow more than just books. Patrons can borrow a telescope, musical instruments, a sewing machine, museum passes, and even fishing poles and gear.

Another great option is to simply swap curricula with other local homeschoolers. This is a time-tested favorite among homeschooling families, because if you’re able to connect with a nearby family, chances are that this can become an ongoing tradition.

If you don’t know any local homeschoolers, you can contact your state’s homeschool association or the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and volunteer veteran homeschooling parents will assist you in connecting with local support groups, many of which hold annual or semi-annual curriculum swaps.

Buy and Sell Gently Used Books and Materials

Ask any homeschool mom and she will undoubtedly show you her stash of used books and materials that she has collected over the years. And most, if not all, will look like new. My personal experience as a veteran homeschool mom of 16 years has shown me that most homeschoolers take excellent care of their stuff.

My best advice—and something that has served us well over the years—is to not allow your kids to write in their workbooks or highlight text in their textbooks. Instead, to ensure that you get much better resale value, copy and print out any workbook pages and ask your kids to take notes and make charts and graphs of the important points in their texts.

Some well-respected websites to buy and sell your gently used homeschooling materials are Homeschool Classifieds, Homeschool Shopper, Second Harvest Curriculum, Thriftbooks, Best Homeschool Buys, and of course, Amazon and eBay. Also, if you plan to attend a state or regional homeschool convention, most of them hold used book sales.

And for you social media-savvy parents, consider joining these Facebook groups: Homeschool Market, Homeschool Curriculum & Book Swap, and Homeschool Used Curriculum Swap.

Another option for finding a great bargain is to shop at summer yard and tag sales.

Apply for a Curriculum Grant

The Home School Legal Defense Association offers a Compassion Curriculum grant to families experiencing financial hardship yet who also desire to continue to homeschool their children. Visit the HSLDA website to learn about eligibility requirements and how to apply.

Karen Doll
Karen Doll is a freelance writer and homeschooling consultant based in the small village of Wassergass, Pennsylvania. She enjoys writing about homeschooling, gardening, food and culture, family life, and the joys of chicken keeping. Visit her at AtHomeWithKarenDoll.wordpress.com
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