I had someone send me a note that they thought homeschooling was expensive. No, its not. In fact, many parents report it is cheaper than PS or Private school as you have no lunches to buy, no school uniforms, no special PE shoes, you aren't required to have certain folders in certain colors and special markers and glue of only one brand. You also don't have to buy school clothes each fall.
In many homeschool houses, you find one parent often works from home or there is a stay at home parent. This isn't because they are rich, its because it saves them money. In the case of the work at home parent, it is cheaper than paying rent or mortgage at an office, in addition to the utilities. Often, it is a trade that can be passed on to the children to learn as well. And, if there are several children involved, a stay at home parent prevents having to pay for childcare and most often cooks from scratch, sews, gardens and does other things that save or generate an income.
You can buy books or computer programs each year for your children if you homeschool, but you don't have to. Here are some ways a lot of us save. Just get creative!!
1. Join a homeschool coop and take advantage of coop classes. Many coops also advertise and swap books and materials with each other as well.
2. See if your local public library offers homeschooling classes
3. Take advantage of free music recitals at local or nearby colleges. One tip I learned here is that the recitals at night often cost money, but if I go to the ones during the day, they are free.
4. Make your lesson plan for the year, then hit the library. Plan (generally) what you want to do for each subject each month or quarter, then shop the library accordingly.
5. Shop the Internet for websites that have free worksheets you can download. For a kindergartner or first grader, there are thousands of free worksheets on math, addition, telling time, letters, handwriting...
6. Wal-Mart and teacher supply stores have those great all in one books that are full of worksheets. They sell for around $9 to $11. You can use it and then if you see an area he needs more work in, go to the Internet for more free worksheets on the same concept.
7. Read, read, read. My girls learned a lot of history that way by reading books such as the biographies of the presidents, diaries from the civil war and letters from the underground railroad.
8. Plan day trips and vacations around field trips. Learn about where you are going then go. Many places (such as Fantastic Caverns) now offer "homeschoolers days", where they discount the price and offer a class in addition to the normal tour. Local businesses in my area are great for taking my kids to the back room and showing them the "behind the scene" tour. To date my girls have visited or even got to "work" for several hours at the library, a bank, fire department, pizza hut (they even let the girls make their own pizzas), vets office, auction, public garden, horse stable and more.
9. Each time you travel, map your route on a map with your child. This even works for short 20-30 mile trips
10. Most states offer free travel packages. We have studied about 20 of our states so far, by sending off to the state for their free state travel package. Its a good way to get a map, learn about the industry, climate and geography of that state.
11. Join Scholastic for homeschoolers. They offer some really good learning CD's for the computer.
12. a good incentive to read is to join Pizza Hut's reading program. It is free and open to homeschoolers.
13. Email, call or write companies and ask if they have an education kit or package. Many do and will send you information about their company, their history and a bit behind how their product was invented or started. Heinz sent us some really good info on pickles and ketsup that was fun to learn about.
14. Find another homeschooling family to "partner up with". Ideally they should have a child the same age as yours, or older (to give you advice what they did at that grade)
15. If you have access to the history channel, or science channel, they are great. If not, your local public library will have many of their programs on tape.
16. Take advantage of sales. When wal-mart has their back to school sales with the notebooks for a nickel, I buy several cases. I also go to the school districts when they have their sales to buy used books--normally I have paid less than $1 per book including text books and teacher books.
17. Visit homeschooling blogs and websites for ideas.
18. get together with other parents who homeschool and barter teach once a week or every two weeks. You teach Spanish and they teach math or whatever their speciality is.
19. Supplement your learning/teaching with activities such as 4H, Scouts, church youth group & Bible Bowl (we sometimes count church as history even, rather than religion, depending on the lesson). Don't forget music lessons count as well as any sports they are enrolled in.
20. Don't forget your phys ed --learn the history and rules of a game, then go play or watch it. My girls loved it when we did baseball--we went to a Royals game afterwards. We also spent $9 and went bowling one Friday after we studied the history of bowling.
21. Do you have a mechanic in the family or a friend who is one? Overhaul the lawnmower or change the oil and count it as a couple hours (or how ever long it takes) as votech-small engines.
22. Browse an antique store and try to guess what various items were used for. Why did the items change into what we have today? Such as a sad iron, being heated on a fire to the electric irons we now use.
23. Find the homeschooling contests in your area--we participate each year in a science fair, spelling bee, bible bowl and more.
24. Find a music teacher and have them tell you when their recitals are and go visit them.
Don't let cost be the reason you don't homeschool. Its like buying a car. You can buy a dependable car without the extras or you can get the luxury car with all the extras--but they will both get you to the same destination.
Be sure to first check your states requirements for homeschooling. In MO we have to have 1000 hours, with 600 of them being in the core subjects. But, even that leaves room for creativity--cooking can be cooking but if you have to double, triple or have a recipe, it can become a fun math lesson in fractions that you can eat! Making candles can be an art or it can be a history if you actually do some research and history along with it.