In writing this post, I hope that it will provide useful information to parents who are considering homeschooling (or already homeschooling) and wondering whether they can afford it, or if it will prove a financial burden in the end. I’d like to encourage you, and tell you that yes- it’s possible to homeschool for less (even with a large family). At the same time, I’m not assuming or implying that our method can work for every family, just sharing our story.
As a homeschool graduate, I’m living proof that it can be done successfully without going broke. You can do it!
Since my siblings and I are close in age, it was really convenient to re-use textbooks. Our instructor (mother) would usually buy textbooks for only one grade level (such as 2nd grade) and after the first person used them, we would pass down the books along the line until the last person used them. Each year we would repeat the same cycle, buy textbooks for the next grade level and the rest were handed down. As you can imagine, that saved us a lot of money!
Weren’t those books falling apart by the time they reached the last person? Well, not exactly. Thankfully, the oldest (and the one privileged to get the new textbooks) was a perfectionist and a booklover; the textbooks were kept in mint condition, so they were like new for the second user, and thus would last fairly well up to the 4th student.
Wite Out: A Homeschooling Mother’s Best Friend
How did you get rid of all the answers written in the textbooks by the previous student?
Yup. We used Wite Out. It worked really well too. Usually, as we were doing our homework, mom (or the substitute teacher) would sit at the table with us and neatly wite out the pages of a textbook wherever there were written-in answers. So the teacher also had something to do in the dull moments of the day when nobody needed any homework help :). Of course, if we had pages with long paragraphs, we’d just have the next student write on a separate piece of paper, not spend hours on detailed book “painting”.
Using a Variety of Curricula
Our main textbooks were Alpha Omega Lifepac Textbooks. They had manuals separated in 10 booklets, complete with chapter Exams and end-of-book exams, plus a teacher’s book with answers to the questions. It made it really easy to keep track of progress by knowing how many books you had to finish by the end of the school semester. I think the books were pretty comprehensive too.
Obviously, as the title implies, Lifepac wasn’t our only curriculum. If a curriculum from one company is too expensive, pick and choose from a variety of sources and save money! We had friends who would give us textbooks they didn’t use from Bob Jones and Abeka. Later, mom also incorporated new curriculum packets from secular sources for topics like math, where the focus is on numbers and there is no infiltration of unwanted topics.
Sticking to the Core Subjects
Economics…Social Science…Arts or Calligraphy….Etiquette and Hospitality… Oh the myriads of subjects and extracurricular activities to choose from! Which should you include in your homeschooling curriculum?!? Keep it simple and stress-free. It will save you headaches, and save your kids from losing their childhood or losing the opportunity to develop their talents and hobbies. Plus, it saves money too! In our homeschooling curriculum, we stuck to the most important and core subjects:
Emphasizing these will really help the student to master what he or she will really use in life. It will enable them to excel as a college student (if they choose that path), or in their career, or any other business/job they might have- whether they are working from home or in the corporate world. Let’s be honest here; subjects like social sciences or calligraphy and art, will not be very useful to them as adults, unless they have a real calling for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for artsy stuff! I love creating! But that can be done on the side, in your spare time, not as a mandatory school topic. There are also a TON of free online resources and videos where you can learn artsy stuff. Don’t bog down your school schedule with too many subjects. Use the extra time you have to be with your kids, go out places, or do research on interesting topics (learn sign language, watch a documentary, etc.) Better yet, if you see your student has a talent in a certain area, encourage them in that- give them books, materials, and let them spend time developing that talent!
What about Biblical studies?
We did not include Bible study as a subject matter into our regular school schedule. This was because we always had Bible studies together as a family, and in addition, we had other weekly study groups with our church and were really involved in the church life.
Investing in tutors
Oh my goodness, but if my homeschooling kid doesn’t study extra topics, he/she will grow up into an uncultured, unsociable, and primitive person who can’t manage life competently!
After reading the paragraph on “core subjects” something similar to the statement above just crossed your mind, didn’t it?
Then maybe the information below will encourage you, and change your mind! 😉
As I mentioned before, we emphasized the core subjects in our schooling, but that didn’t leave us void of opportunities for creativity. We had the opportunity to invest in tutors for sports and music. We had karate lessons for awhile (that was actually a free bonus since our instructor was a member of our church), and my siblings and I all had music tutors and learned how to play different instruments. I think one reason we could afford this is because we didn’t spend money on unnecessary textbooks for additional school subjects.
We also spent a lot of time aside from school in doing crafts on our own, coloring, drawing, doing plays (I wrote and organized two plays that we performed with our friends in church), singing, and reading. We had more extracurricular activities than kids attending public school!
So, tutors for sports, music, or other hobbies are a great way to add to your homeschooling education! I realize not all families can afford to have music lessons or other tutors- we couldn’t always afford it either. But maybe you can budget for it? For some years, the only time we could have tutors was during our time in a charter school which provided an allotted amount for each student for extracurricular activities.
Going on field trips
Socializing and being “exposed to the outside world” was never a problem for us, (as many non-homeschooling people have the misconception is the case for home schooled kids). Our family caught the travel bug long ago, and we were flexible with our schedule and enjoyed being on the road. We had frequent “field trips”, especially since we were a missionary family for a few years. In fact we had the opportunity to travel more than the average person in our young lives. We didn’t necessarily go in tourist trips. As many of you know, there are plenty of things to see and learn around your home or in other areas for free! You don’t always have to have expensive field trips!
Using Educational Posters
I liked that we had a “classroom” type of environment in our study room. Some ways to save money is to buy educational posters, and tape them around the room. Then use them in your studies. That way, most of your homeschooling students can make use of one item- the poster! And you don’t have to buy a book for each one! Mom would buy posters with the Multiplication Table, the Solar system, etc. They were great visual tools, and I know we learned a lot from them too. Imagine all the posters you can get….from the Periodic Table, to maps, to charts on anatomy!
Books and more books!
I know most homeschoolers love reading. This might sound bizarre, but I’ve even heard about some people who have taught themselves solely by reading books on different topics borrowed from the library, and then gone off to study at prestigious Universities like Stanford (for example) and get a masters degree. The library is a fantastic (if not necessary) tool for enhancing homeschooling learning! I know we use it a lot. We also had a bookcase full of different books, and our parents had to enforce “reading bans” because we read too much! (To all the homeschooling families out there: sound familiar?).
Using Online Resources
Okay, all the websites and companies I’ll be promoting here should thank me for the great advertising I’m doing for them ;). Lol! In fact, I wish there were people out there who would promote and recommend my blog of their own accord, as I’m doing for these sites!
For a time, we used educational video games. We had games that taught typing, math, science, and other concepts. These of course should be used in moderation and with wisdom, as they can get addictive. We enjoyed watching a lot of documentaries. In recent years we’ve discovered many educational youtube videos on “how things are made” or about 19th century living from Jas Townsend Company which I previously posted about on this blog.
There are many websites which also provide free educational materials and printouts. For instance, I really like the wide variety of videos available through Khan Academy on youtube, ranging from chemistry and math, to literature and test preps! Check out their youtube homepage. Plus, you can get head start in college education if you’d like, by accessing free short videos on Education Portal website. A similar website to Education Portal, is iMinds, only this one is not free, and I don’t know much about it. If any of you readers know more about it, please comment and let me know how you like it! I’m curious.
If you’re really into the sciences, I like using this interactive “Get Body Smart” website to practice anatomy.
You can also learn music theory at your own pace with Ricci Adam’s free music theory lessons. Plus, there are a whole collection of DIY, and tutorial videos online that can be accessed from blogs and youtube, where you can teach yourself a new hobby!
In addition, there are websites that offer free games and activities for young children, as well as educational documentaries. I especially like the ones that teach history, such as the American Experience from PBS. A friend recently told me about this website, America’s Heartland that contains series of episodes with stories on farming. Sounds really interesting; I browsed through the website a tad, and I have yet to check it out more indepth.
In this technological age, you have school right at your fingertips! All it takes is a little research.
Now, enough with me talking. Let me hear from you! I’ve shared many resources with you. Now it’s your turn.
How do you homeschool? What are your strategies? Did you find any tips in my post that you might apply in your homeschooling endeavor? What did you find interesting?
What resources can you share with me? I’m really, really curious to hear!