Homeschooling on a budget

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No matter what anyone says, it really doesn’t take boatloads of money to homeschool your children. Time, yes. Resourcefulness, true. Creativity, flexibility and a willingness to remain constantly on the lookout for something that may enhance the home ed program, for sure.

But money, not necessarily.

Today’s homeschoolers have a myriad of options that simply weren’t available when homeschooling first became legal years ago. Curriculum products, textbooks, fancy educational gadgets, and interactive computer software are certainly some of them. But many of today’s options can be found inexpensively, even free, too.  The trick is in knowing where to find a budget version of what some traditionally might pay a mint for.

Traditional curriculum, for instance, can be purchased on the cheap in any number of places. Used book sites, curriculum fairs, auction sites or from friends in local homeschooling groups are just the beginning. If that’s even more than your budget can afford, look online for free online textbooks, free lesson plans, and free audio and video courses, available for the taking.  There are thousands and, below, you’ll find just a few great links to start you off.

Supplemental materials can also be found free or cheap.  Once you enter the mind-set of looking for things that could be useful at home, you’ll practically begin tripping over all of the goodies you find in thrift stores, dollar and discount stores, yard sales and in friend’s attics and basements. There isn’t a homeschooler around who doesn’t have a great story to tell about how they scored a great freebie or greatly discounted item in the most unexpected way.

Exploring local options is an area that is sometimes overlooked. Depending on where you live, your children may have access to free or deeply discounted tuition at local colleges or technical schools, part-time enrollment at schools or continuing ed type programs, or the opportunity to audit (basically, sit in and watch, as long as there’s a seat available) classes at places of learning just about anywhere.  Your local homeschooling contact can probably tell you what is available in your area.  It may surprise you what’s out there when you begin looking.

Finally, tap into resources among people you know. Friends, grandparents, neighbors all have something to share. Networking is never more important than when homeschooling on a shoe-string.  Putting the word out that you’re interested in opportunities for your children will help you uncover the wealth of talent and energy in your immediate circle and local area.

When homeschooling this way, it may be necessary to adopt a more relaxed and flexible curriculum style, and be ready to scoop up evidence of learning after it occurs, rather than planning it outright at the beginning. Sometimes, these are some of the best experiences, anyhow!

Don’t believe the myths you hear about homeschooling families earning more, and spending more, than other families. Research has shown that this simply isn’t true. Check out these links and get started:

The Swap

Ebay

Vegsource

HSLDA Curriculum Market

Homeschool Classifieds

Best Homeschool Buys

Used Homeschool Curriculum

Free Ed Net

The Khan Academy

MIT Open Courseware

Project Gutenberg

Bartleby

Free Books

Lesson Planet

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