I want to homeschool, but…we can’t afford it.
Actually, you can! Especially when it’s possible to homeschool for free! It’s really true! If you are interested in homeschooling, you’ve no doubt perused the curriculum websites, glanced at catalogs and maybe even been tempted to attend a convention. It’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by the books, series, sets, unit studies and…does my kindergartner really need a microscope? (and the answer is no!) We’ve already talked about changing your life style and adjusting family incomes to allow for homeschooling, so today, I want to look at the actual cost of books and materials.
Take a look at your options
At the very high end of cost, there are several large curriculum publishers that charge upwards of $800 per student, per year for curriculum materials. These companies have every school day planned and outlined down to the smallest detail for you and all academic subjects are accounted for. Books, worksheets, science experiments – you name it and it will be shipped to your door; all your child needs is a pencil. These are excellent companies that bend over backwards to insure that everything is accounted for and buying a pre-planned curriculum can be especially helpful for first time homeschoolers. However, don’t assume that you HAVE to spend $800+ to homeschool your children…you can actually do it for free – whether this is your first year or your tenth year homeschooling, you have a lot of options.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, there are ways to homeschool your children for free! (or almost free – save the cost of paper pencils, and the occasional library fine!)
Ambleside is one of my very favorite resources for FREE homeschool curriculum for K-12. Yes, completely free curriculum!! This site was developed by parents who used the Charlotte Mason method of teaching (don’t worry – we’ll be explaining more about teaching methods soon, but if you’d like to get a head start, here’s a description of the Charlotte Mason [CM] method). The site is categorized by both subject and grade and there are links to needed resources. They rely heavily on the classics, so many of their books are in the public domain or readily available at your public library. You could use only Ambleside Online and homeschool your child for free, from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Homeschool Share has hundreds of free unit study and project ideas, as well as printables and worksheets that correlate with many classic children’s tales and with general topics of study.
This is a fantastic resource site that lists free Kindle books, free printables, and will help you locate free (or really cheap) faith-based resources for your kids!
This site was created by a homeschooling mom that wanted to help other homeschooling moms!! She has a fantastic set of printables and tips for homeschoolers!
This is an amazing site with free audio books from the public domain. The books are read by volunteers (and granted, some are better than others…) but this is a great option for starting your kids early on some of the classics. Download the files and listen to them in the car, during quiet time, or maybe during a craft. These have come in so handy as a supplement to our homeschool curriculum.
This site, though not curriculum itself, is full of free printables. You’ll find maps, charts, handwriting sheets, math worksheets, calendars and MUCH more. Don’t under estimate an e-reader We decided to invest in a e-reader this year as part of our homeschool budget. We purchased a Kindle, and yes, aside from all of it’s other fun bells and whistles, it has come in really handy for school. There were several older history books that I wanted to include in our studies this year, but they were a little hard to find. I realized that I could spend $40 on the book, or $1 on the Kindle download from amazon. After doing this several times, our e-reader has more than paid for itself. Don’t feel like you have to buy one, but consider it if you plan on homeschooling…it may save you money in the long run.
Use your library!
This goes without saying, but if you are a homeschool parent, get to know all of the librarians on a first name basis! (I do, and I have personally paid their salaries in fines, but that’s another story…)(and if you’re more disciplined than I am and don’t lost books, the library really is a FREE resource…!) Many parents are able to utilize their libraries as the sole form of their child’s curriculum for most subjects (particularly English/Literature, Science, History, Faith-based studies, Poetry, and even Art and Music.
Borrow books or buy them used!
Join your local homeschool co-op and talk to the moms about book swapping! Homeschoolers LOVE to share books and recommendations, we’re just weird like that. You can also check out sites like Homeschool Classifieds, where you can buy gently used books from other homeschoolers at a fraction of the price.
Oh yes my friends, just do a search for “homeschool” and you’ll be pinning cute crafts, project ideas, and free resources all night long!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are sites and resources that I have personally used (and saved money with!) Below I’ve listed some other great sites with resource lists…so take heart! If you are pinching pennies just to be able to homeschool, don’t sweat the cost of actually schooling your children!! Despite what we’ve been told for years, high quality education does not have to break the bank!
My Big Fat Homeschool Link List from Spritti Bee
Free Homeschool Resources from The Happy Housewife
Homeschool For Free from The Five J’s
Free Printables for Younger Grades from Confessions of a Homeschooler