Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive. Affordable homeschooling isn't very difficult if you know where to look. I have included many of the inexpensive homeschooling ideas that we have found useful and effective.
When we first started homeschooling, my son was bored and was rapidly losing all his enthusiasm for learning before we pulled him out of Kindergarten. This turned out to be an advantage in that I didn't worry whether we were doing enough. We spend the rest of Kindergarten just doing hands-on fun learning activities – sledding and hiking with a local homeschool co-op group, reading, exploring the backyard, science experiments, building with lego, etc.
Affordable Homeschooling Curriculum – Keep it Simple
Our only curriculum was the library, the internet, and 3 little books by Ruth Beechick, “The Three R's”. In addition my son also used educational math games on the computer. I think that one of the mistakes many homeschooler make is that they are so concerned with whether their children are doing enough, or keeping up with public school, that they feel they need a boxed curriculum that tells them how to do everything.
Again, my advantage was that my son was at so many different levels in different subjects, I wouldn't have known what grade of boxed curriculum to get him anyway. Also, different things work better for different children, so buying used curriculum and inexpensive homeschooling resources makes better sense. One of the benefits to homeschooling is that you can fit the learning activities to the needs of the child, but if you have just paid $700 for this years boxed curriculum it is awfully difficult to shelve it and use something that may work better.
I have always been the type of person that doesn't like paying more than I have to for something and as a result, usually seek out the places with the best prices. Also, when we first started homeschooling, I had just left a full-time teaching position and our family income dropped by about 65%, so I needed to be very careful in how I spent money. I found lots of great free homeschooling resources or very cheap homeschooling materials.
E-Bay and other Used Curriculum Resources
I love ebay for used homeschooling books and other affordable homeschooling materials. What is a great benefit with ebay is you can try out a book or part of a curriculum to see how you like it and if it works for your child. If not, just sell it back on E-bay and you probably haven't lost very much. In fact, I have items that I bought on Ebay, used with my kids and sold for more than I paid. The trick with Ebay is to know your prices and don't pay more than it is worth. A good rule of thumb I use when buying used curriculum is to get it at about ½ the price it would be if new, or less. If it is something I am not sure about than I won't even pay ½ price usually and I have gotten some great buys.
Here are some ebay pointers:
- Look at the rating of the seller and where they are located
- check your shipping cost and ask the seller if they will ship media mail for books and combine shipping costs
- add items that have already been bid to your watch list and wait until bidding is almost ending so you don't drive up the price
- Put phrases that would appear together in quotation marks when searching and check the box to search the ad content as well as the title of the ad. For example “Rod and Staff” math or “Pathway Reader”
- Decide ahead of time how much you are willing to pay including shipping and don't bid more that your maximum.
Some people get “bid-crazy' and pay more than you can buy it new. When that happens I just let them have the item and know I will get it another time cheaper. The best time of year to get inexpensive homeschooling materials and used homeschooling texbooks cheap is in the late fall when everyone has got their materials for the year through winter and very early spring. From spring through the summer it is harder to find affordable homeschooling materials, if you are buying used homeschooling books, because everyone is looking for materials for the next school year.
I am even teaching my 10 year old how to list items on ebay and splitting the profits 50/50. Not only is it a good learning experience, he needs to work on his writing and typing skills while he is working on it. It is a great win-win. I have a bunch of used curriculum and homeschooling books to sell and don't have the time to devote to listing them, and he earns money to market his new business venture.
Affordable Homeschooling Materials Used Year After Year
When looking for affordable homeschooling materials, look for items that can be used more than one year. Whether you use unit studies that can be used with multiple grade levels or educational cds that cover multiple ages and grades, the more years use you can get out of something the less inexpensive it will be.
On the What to Teach? page I have specific materials and resources that can be used multiple years by the same children and passed down to younger children. We even re-use some books that would be considered consumable books. If I have a book that one of my children is just using for review or to make sure she has the concept down, I will photocopy the pages so a younger sibling can use it or I can sell it on Ebay. If you refill your own ink cartridges or get then at a good price this is a good way to save money.
Affordable Homeschooling Equipment - Photocopiers and Printers
I consider my printer an essential part of affordable homeschooling since you can save so much by printing free homeschooling materials off the internet or photocopy books and reusing them for younger brothers or sisters.
I have had a multi-function printer with copying capabilities since starting homeschooling. I had a color laser printer with duplex capabilities I got at a great price on ebay, that was great for printing books, but when I updated my computer which had Vista as the operating system, I couldn't get drivers that would work with it. Also, now the inkjet printers they make have the same capabilities and the ink costs are comparable or even less expensive than a lot of the laser printers.
If you plan of using some of the free resources I have listed and are printing books or ebooks, being able to print both sides automatically is a real time and headache saver.
An ink jet printer that is getting a lot of use is one item that is worth having a manufacturers warranty one. I have shipped back printers that have died on me and had them replaced at no cost since they were under warranty.
If you are on a very tight budget, let people know you are looking for a printer. Businesses and people with home offices often upgrade and may even give you their old one for free, or at least at an inexpensive price.
With printers, it is the cost of the ink cartridges and how many pages that will print that you need to consider more so than the price of the printer itself. I used a ink cartridge replacement kit for years very successfully as well as re-manufactured ink cartridges. Also, you can often get ink cartridges online with free shipping at a better price than buying locally.
Free or Inexpensive Homeschooling Resources
Affordable homeschooling is readily available on the internet. I have included links inexpensive and free homeschooling curriculum and resources to help. You can get free homeschooling worksheets and printables, entire books that are no longer restricted by copyright laws, online educational games and more.
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