Sunday, September 5, 2010

Home Schooling On a Budget

One of the most common questions I receive by nonhomeschoolers interested in learning more is, "How expensive is it to home school?". Well, just like with most things, the cost of home schooling has a very broad range. Distance learning kits from colleges such as Bob Jones University can set you back a couple hundred dollars per child. Many home schoolers prefer pre-planned curriculum, to cut back on planning time and to ensure every subject is covered. Such a curriculum may even be necessary in states which have strict home schooling laws. However, a home school family does not have to be out hundreds of dollars a year on curriculum and supplies. It may really depend upon how much time, you the parent, wants and/or are able to devote to planning and gathering.

We are a family on a budget. We simply cannot afford to purchase the large pre-planned curriculums and allow me to stay at home full-time. What's the old saying? "Necessity is the mother of invention"? So true. I have had to find inexpensive ways to provide Beauty with the education she deserves without skimping on quality.

Kentucky is a home school friendly state. It isn't as friendly as states such as Texas, which have no home school requirements, but is still quite friendly. In the state of Ky I only need to notify by letter the local board of education of my intent to home school. That's it. No required end-of-year testing or mailing in portfolios or any such thing. This is fantastic for those of us who believe in as little government involvement as possible.

So, this freedom leaves me with a plethera of options in how to educate my children. And, like I said, I've found some excellent ways to do so on a tight budget.  These techniques may not be for everyone.  It depends on your specific goals and personality.  However, this is what I do to provide an inexpensive, yet quality, education for Beauty.

Befriend your librarianand utilize your library!  Your local library can be your greatest asset.  It is chocked-full of information and resources; from books, to periodicals, to computers, to media,  to even reading programs and activities for small children.  AND IT IS ALL FREE!!!  Become friendly with the librarians.  They are there to help and can provide lots of suggestions and recommendations.  Also, browse their books for sale section.  Our local library has a section of books they are "weeding out" of the shelves for one reason or another and allow us to fill a bag for $1.00.  I have found several of the kids' story books this way.  The selection may also include some excellent sources of history or educational resources.

Take advantage of the world wide web!  The internet can be as useful, or maybe even more so, than your local library.  I personally prefer the written word I can hold in my hand, but we also use the internet daily.  In fact, our budget only allows for either the internet or satellite tv and we chose the internet hands-down.  It is an invaluable resource.  I have found it particularly useful for Beauty, who is a hands-on learner. 
Since you are reading this blog, you obviously are familiar with the advantages of the wold wide web and so further discussion is unnecessary.
Browse your local thrift shop and yard sales!  I have found many fantastic, and usable, materials at the local Goodwill, consignment shops and yard sales.  I even found several history books at the local flea mall.  Keep your eyes open and you may be surprised at what you find.  Even if you don't need it now, it would be a good idea to scoop things up for the future.  For example, I found a vintage book on the history of baseball that I have added to Eastwood's future library. Most of what I have found this way range from .25 to 2.00.  Can't beat that!

Amazon!  Don't be afraid to buy used! I have ordered several used books from Amazon sellers for as little as .01 plus shipping!  Buying it new I would have paid $10 or more, but used I got it for $4.00.  This is the first year I have used Amazon and was amazed at the large selection of children's books and tickled at the low prices.

Swap around!  There are some great web sites that offer its members the chance to swap curriculum or buy used  at incredible prices.  Paperback Swap and Homeschooler's Curriculum Swap are two good ones.  Just google home school swap and you'll find some great sites.

Laminate and Reuse!  If you have multiple children and know you'll want to use a particular worksheet again, just laminate it!  Your child can do the same worksheet again and again with a dry erase marker and then shelve it for future use by a younger child.

Look for sales!  Keep your eyes open for sales at local bookstores and teacher supply stores.  Buy out-of-season.  My local Parent-Teacher Store has a clearance section full of decor and out-of-season merchandise, as well as out-of-print books and overstocked items.

Get out of the house!  I am a big believer in LIFE being the best teacher.  Take advantage of good weather to get out of the house.  Go on nature walks.  Visit a nearby farm.  Take a tour of the local recycling center or firestation.  Visit a state park for both nature and history lessons.  Go shopping for a lesson on money.  The opportunities are endless.

You can provide a fun, quality home education for your children if you just take advantage of what is around you and get creative.

What are some ways you save money while home schooling?

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