Let’s face it. Many families need to know how to homeschool inexpensively. Often the decision to withdraw children from school and bring them home is completely dependent upon the ability to afford it.
It is VERY possible for families to homeschool inexpensively. Even very large families may choose home education with confidence, knowing that quality materials are available for a fraction of their original cost — many even for free!
Below, you’ll find a list of just some of the ways that today’s families can save money and obtain quality homeschool materials inexpensively Allow this list to inspire you to seek out opportunities and look beyond the traditional convention and full-price catalog purchases!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using pre-owned materials as long as they are in good condition, and relevant to you and your student. In this age of recycling, upcycling, and reducing ones own planetary footprint, it is even fashionable to do so! As long as rules and procedures have not changed (think grammar and multiplication) and new theories and discoveries have not changed (think science and economics), even very old items may be adapted for modern use (by selecting relevant lessons and/or supplementing with other resources). There are many sources of pre-owned materials, but start by friends what they use. Try also web sites like VegSource, Homeschool Classifieds, Homeschool Trading Zone, Used Homeschooling Curriculum and don’t forget to sell the items back to recoup some of your investment once you’re finished, too!
Swapping materials with friends is a brilliant way for both families to benefit from something worthwhile. Swaps can be arranged in a dollar-for-dollar fashion, or families may swap grade-for-grade or subject-for-subject materials, as well. No matter how this occurs, bartering everything from books to microscopes, to maps and classroom electronics, is an excellent way to obtain materials at no cost whatsoever.
Never be afraid to ask others if they’d be willing to part with products they own for a semester or two. Many homeschoolers have products gathering dust while waiting for younger siblings to grow into them. Most would be more than willing to loan these items out to families in need. If you find guilt gets the best of you, feel free return products along with a plate of cookies, or an offer to loan items of yours in the future. (Some families even keep an inventory of items they’re willing to loan so that friends feel more comfortable asking to borrow items on the list!)
Shop Retail Store Clearance & Used Book Stores
Shoppers are often surprised to find major goodies at department stores and used book shops. Why? There may be no better place to find quality literature than an old book shop (bonus: books might even come with that old, musty smell!) and no better place to score a discount on children’s classics than a large store chain. Department stores in particular are excellent for locating values on audio CDs (from classical composers, for example) and DVDs of old movies (think old Jules Verne tales) for just a couple of dollars. And don’t forget warehouse values, either, for scoring large, meaty workbooks, worktexts and references, plus off-beat resources and curiosities not found in other stores. (This a great way to build a homeschool libary, too.)
Share A Book
Those who feel comfortable with this idea may want to consider pooling dollars with a friend to buy a single shared copy of something and passing it back and forth all year long. Children in the two households can either work together, co-op style, sharing the book or resource as they learn at the same pace, or schedule alternating days and weeks where one or the other has possession of the book (or DVD or whatever). While this isn’t always the most convenient solution, this works particularly well for very expensive courses that can be viewed by multiple children at once (a history DVD series, for example). Once the product is sold, both families may either agree to split the proceeds, or use the money to buy the next item in the series and repeat the whole thing all over again next year.
Ever just think of asking? Uncomfortable as this may be for some people, you’d be surprised what can happen by just asking for what you need. One never knows the value of this technique until a friend delivers a box of algebra books and an out-dated laptop to your doorstep, or a friendly neighbor sets a box of paperback books aside for your kids. Putting the word out to family, friends and co-workers is an excellent way to get free stuff. People are only too happy to donate things to school children knowing they will be put to good use. As a side-benefit, when folks know what you’re looking for, they’ll be more likely to keep their eyes open for you, too!
Attend a Curriculum Sale or (Plan One Yourself)
Almost every city has access to a curriculum sale at least or twice a year. Traveling to these sales, even if a bit out of your usual commuting area, proves to be one of the best ways to get homeschool stuff for less. Why? Because the people who sell items at these sales are homeschool moms and dads like you; thus, they sell products they have already used with their own kids. The organizers of these curriculum sales tend to group items together, making it very easy to find groups of related materials with ease. Prices are generally less than half of what these items would retail for new, plus the condition of items is often good to excellent, too. As a bonus, other shoppers at these sales can be a great source of information and a way to gather advice about what worked and what does not. Planning a sale is easy, too, should none exist in the immediate area (and planners often get first-pick at the best goodies before the sale even begins!).
Use Web Sites & Free Internet Resources
It would be impossible to list the tens of thousands of outstanding Internet resources now offered free to students. A simple search could yield hundreds of freebies for just about any subject anyone wants to learn. From free online computer games and dowloadable software, to free online lessons and videos, to free tutoring help, to entirely free all-in-one homeschool curriculums, there exists something for everybody, for just the price of a reliable Internet connection. Try Ambleside Online for a free Charlotte Mason curriculum, Lesson Pathways for free lessons in traditional subject areas, or explore Easy-Peasy for a complete homeschool package with resource links, too. Try Timez Attack, a favorite among 2nd and 3rd graders for learning multiplication skills, or Starfall, where early learners learn phoenetic reading while having fun.