Saving Money on Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschooling is a wonderful thing for many people, including us. Having to pay for all your own curriculum, materials and resources can really add up though - especially if you need to purchase a lot of books or consumables. Buying curriculum for each subject can cost a small fortune. Homeschooling doesn't have to cost that much though, so let's take a look at how you can save money while still providing a well rounded curriculum.
The first thing I do each year is figure out exactly what curriculum I want to use. I get something different for each subject, although many people will opt for a company that provides everything you need for all subjects. The ones I have looked into are usually more than I spend a year on everything and I like picking and choosing what will work best for each child. I make a list of exactly what I need. Homeschooling more than one child helps with this. Books I used for my oldest can get used again by my other kids.
You don't need to always buy things new and you should look for opportunities not to. Knowing other people that homeschool will probably allow you to share resources. I have borrowed curriculum before and I have let others borrow my things before. It works out well for everyone involved, as long as both parties take care of the items. Used curriculum fairs are great places to get what you need. I try to get to these before attending a state conference so I can try to get what I need at a lower price before having to shop at full price.
We use our library a lot. I purchase my main history and science book and I borrow everything that needs to go along with each unit from the library. I can't tell you how much money this has saved us! Thousands of dollars for sure if compared to purchasing all those books and videos full price.
Use the internet. We use the internet each week to look up information. The kids love it and it is free. I also print off lots of pages for them to use during school - especially if they are needing some extra practice on something. There are a ton of free game sites that are educational, so don't bother spending your money on computer games, just use the internet.
Do it yourself. When my son needs extra practice on his multiplication tables, I just write out the problems on scrap paper. Plan activities and curriculum yourself. Recently I had my older children create lapbooks on Ancient Greece. I could have spent $20 on a cool lapbook kit that would have everything we needed. Instead I just planned out the activities and information myself and we borrowed books from the library to get our information. I used things from around the house and the cost to me was nothing. Don't underestimate your own creativity.
I really like to go to a homeschool conference each year. I get a lot out of the workshops offered and I have a chance to do my curriculum shopping while there. Hopefully by the time the conference rolls around I will have found much of what I need used or borrowed. I can compare prices on what is left on my list, all in the same building at the conference. On top of that I save all the shipping costs by shopping this way. The key here is to stick to your list, because it can be easy to get carried away once you are there.
Form or join a coop. This is a group of families that have gotten together to offer classes to all the kids - particularly in subjects that many people aren't knowledgeable in. A local coop near me currently offers classes on creative writing, Lego robotics, engineering, Spanish, and science. These classes meet once a week and usually cost very little. The parents team up to teach the classes that they know a lot about and that takes the pressure off the parents that don't anything about engineering for instance.
Finding a local support group will cost very little money as well and provide the kids and parents with support. Classes and field trips can easily be organized through a support group and as a group you can usually get discounts. Many support groups offer free activities each month as well.
As for activities, typically homeschool activities are cheaper than after school activities. For example a gymnastics class at my daughter's gym is $65 a month for a typical 45 minute class once a week. The homeschool class though, is $35 for the same amount of time. We have gotten discounts on art, PE, and music, as well as getting to take advantage of some awesome field trips for free or very little money - just because we homeschool. As long as you don't go overboard on activities you can save money doing this.
Look into purchasing memberships to museums and/or zoos. These memberships can be a great deal if you visit them a lot and it can be very easy to incorporate these trips into your school. Don't forget that many of these memberships are reciprocal at museums in other cities. For instance if I were to purchase a membership to the Cleveland Zoo, I could go to Pittsburg and visit the zoo there for free.
I have found as a homeschooler that there are really more things offered than I could ever do. There are so many curriculum choices out there, so many activities and so many opportunities for homeschoolers. You really do have to pick and choose in order to keep a good balance. Homeschooling can cost you as little or as much as you want it to. Whatever your budget may be, there will be plenty of options out there for you to choose from. If you want to save money while homeschooling try some of these ideas and see how they work for you.