The majority of homeschooling families have a budget to consider when making educational choices for their children, especially when most usually have just one income.
You’ve probably heard of curricula that can run in the hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of dollars. While that may sound unheard of, many families think that, because a program is expensive, it must work. The truth is, homeschooling doesn’t have to break your budget, even if you have a large family. Sure, you want the best possible education for your child, but you also need to keep your finances in mind.
So, what do you do? Here are a few ideas to help you give your children a top-notch at-home education while saving some green.
Think it Through
A big no-no that most novice homeschoolers are guilty of is spending a ton of money on curricula that may not work. First, you need to determine how your child learns best. Perhaps he is a visual (spatial) learner who prefers pictures and images; or maybe she is a physical (kinesthetic) learner who prefers using her hands and sense of touch. Once you know how your child learns, you’ll have a better idea of which learning programs will work for you and your child. Then you’ll be armed with invaluable knowledge that will help you make a more informed purchase.
Borrow, Rent, Look for Bargains
Do you have a library card? Use it to borrow books and DVDs to incorporate into your child’s curriculum. Check out thrift stores and flea markets, and take your time browsing for books, arts and craft supplies, and other low-cost items you can add to your stockpile of homeschool tools. Remember to hit the web too. Many websites allow you to trade books and other useful homeschool resources with their members, free of charge.
Find Free Fun
Local parks, nature centers, and even museums will host free events for kids on a regular basis throughout the year. Not only are these great learning opportunities that cost you nothing, they also allow your child to learn about a number of different topics, engage in hands-on learning, and make new friends by hanging out with other homeschoolers.
Turn on the Tube
Not all TV is mindless garbage that will rot your child’s brain. Documentaries, biographies, and nature shows all provide excellent learning opportunities for children. The best part? Most of these are found in channels that do not require you to have cable TV. Grab some popcorn and let the learning begin.
Split the costs
If you are looking to make a big purchase, whether it’s buying a pricey curriculum, hiring a tutor for a difficult subject, or taking a once-in-a-lifetime educational field trip, why not consider splitting the cost with another homeschooling family you know? This way, you’re not making the full investment yourself, and both of you will be able to reap the educational rewards and memories.
A Few More Tips
Keeping costs down when homeschooling may be a big challenge, but it is possible. As a homeschooler, think of all the money you are already saving on things like school clothes and uniforms, lunch money, backpacks, and perhaps even tuition or after school care.
If you have a budget to consider, be sure to take the time to plan ahead and be as detailed as possible. Remember to keep fees in mind for things like extracurricular activities, homeschool conventions, homeschool groups and co-ops, and gas for field trips. If you have multiple children, don’t forget that you can offset costs by reusing non-consumable books, curriculum, and other materials. Plus, you may eligible for sibling discounts at a number of places.
It also helps to think outside the box and let your creativity roam wild. If your child has a passion or an interest in a topic such as flying or airplanes, the learning options are endless. You can draw or build a model plane, watch documentaries on aviation, see planes landing and taking off at the airport, and check out library books to research famous pilots. Most of these learning opportunities won’t cost you a dime. From there, you can even branch out into things like the science of what makes a plane fly and what it takes to become a pilot.
In the midst of your planning, remember that your success as a homeschooling family doesn’t come from how much money you spend each year on curriculum, supplies, and other items. Making big homeschool purchases doesn’t guarantee that your children will learn better or faster than others. Your success will come from the time you spend with your children, learning together, getting to know one another, and creating memories that they won’t be able to make anywhere else.