Five Ways to Spend Less on Homeschooling
Our family, like many homeschooling families, is on a single income. I stay home with our four children, my husband works full time (and then some). In our current season, there isn’t much wiggle room for spending beyond our normal monthly budget. As such, we’ve had to get creative about affording the homeschooling life we feel called to. You may be wondering how a quality education can happen without shelling out big bucks. Doesn’t teaching children cost a lot of money?
Here are some ways I’ve been able to keep things affordable for our family.
Choose a Lifestyle Over a Curriculum
There was one time I looked into a faith-based curriculum I had heard a lot about. I really liked it, except we were talking several hundred dollars per child for the year- not including certain add-ons to round out the curriculum! We just weren’t in a position to do that. Something about this particular curriculum stood out to me though, and that was that they incorporated Charlotte Mason’s teachings into their lessons. I had heard that name before, but didn’t really know what it meant. I did some research online and read a book about this method, and knew this was right for our family!
Keep a Minimalist Mindset
The Charlotte Mason Method really goes hand in hand with the concept of minimalism. There are a wide variety of topics to cover, but you don’t need a lot of stuff to do it well. There is something so great about that, since we live in a small apartment and once you get into homeschooling multiple children, the stuff (read: clutter) really starts adding up! You are not spending a bunch of money if you’ve convinced yourself that less is more when it comes to homeschooling! Charlotte Mason really emphasized the use of living books (as opposed to dry, dull text books) for the bulk of a child’s learning. With a minimalist outlook, you don’t feel compelled to own every single book and educational implement there is, which leads to my next point.
Use Your Library Card
The library is of course a great resource for books, DVDs, and CDs, but can also be a resource for various kinds of electronic media- like e-books, music downloads, and audio books. Our library offers Culture Pass, a system where you can get free admission to museums and other places of interest. If you aren’t familiar with your local library, check to find what special things they offer. Ours has backpacks for kids that contain items (usually books, games, and other learning resources) that relate to one particular literary or other educational theme that can be checked out, and they recently started offering tablets for kids that are preloaded with educational apps!
Utilize the Internet
This one is probably a no-brainer, but really there is no limit to the free learning opportunities offered online! From resources shared by moms and teachers on Pinterest, to educational channels on YouTube, to Khan Academy for math (and now other subjects), and even free online university courses, having access to the internet is practically vital to homeschooling these days! (And if you don’t have access at home, there is always the library or free Wi-Fi at certain establishments- Starbucks and McDonald’s are just a couple that come to mind).
When I do need to buy things, I try to wait until I can get in on the awesome back-to-school sales. Or, if I happen to really want to save big, I wait until the back-to-school items are on clearance (because I can!) I also check for things at the dollar store that we might need. In addition to regular school supplies, they usually have a lot of useful things intended for classrooms (like decorations, workbooks, craft kits, etc), that are helpful to preschool and early elementary-aged children at home. I have also found second hand stores to be a goldmine for the living books I mentioned before (and sometimes you can score big when a school teacher has recently donated their collection). You might have a local homeschool group on Facebook that allows buying and selling items. This can also be a way to get things that are useful to your child’s education inexpensively.
Do you homeschool? Can you add any other frugal options to this list?
Becky is a wife of nine years and stay at home mom to four young children. She aspires to encourage women in Biblical truth on her blog, Happy Christian Home