In the USA, every September, millions of kids across the country sling a backpack over their shoulders and head out to enter their way into the classroom. However, approximately 2 million kids are actually learning in the comfort of their own homes according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Here we take a look at ways to control your homeschooling budget as homeschooling is certainly becoming a more popular and viable option nowadays for families.
Homeschooling is a great way to bond with your kids as well as take an active role in their education. However, sometimes you can spend a fortune when you don’t actually need to and this is why we’ve put together a guide how to control your homeschooling budget to ensure that costs don’t spiral out of control.
When you’re homeschooling you have to take into account that you are saving quite a bit of money on things like school clothes, school outings, new backpacks and lunch money as well as any other costs that come into the equation with normal schooling. However, when you decide to homeschool you still need to keep your eye on the bottom line. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, you need to control your homeschooling budget to make it a viable solution for you. The good news is there are ways around spending a fortune, and we’ll show you how.
Equipment and Stationery Savings
It’s very easy to get caught up in the back to school stationery sales, with all sorts of glossy and gorgeous supplies just begging to be bought, but you don’t need everything and you’ll have to train yourself to buy exactly what you need and nothing more. This is one of the crucial steps to control your homeschooling budget. Follow the advice below and you’ll be saving money before you know it.
1. Keep it Simple
You don’t need to buy everything that’s on the shelves, even though it’s extremely tempting. One of the great things about homeschooling is that you don’t need to buy a mandatory list of supplies. You can actually keep it simple and only buy what you need.
What you need will generally be dependent on the age of your child.
General Equipment Needed
Another cost that you might need to consider is for example a globe, microscope or science kits. These are normally in most public schools, so as your kids get older, you might need to consider these costs too.
Stationery Supplies Needed for Younger Kids
- Pencil sharpener
- Construction paper
- Glue sticks
- Child safe scissors
- Ziplock bags for storing flash cards or similar items
Stationery Supplies Needed for Older Kids
This list is a rough guide, but start off with the basics first and then if you need extra stuff then buy it when you need it.
2. Timing is Everything
Try and shop for stationery supplies when schools have gone back and you’ll save quite a lot of money. This will certainly control your homeschooling budget. Also, always be on the lookout for specials as you also may need to restock during the year.
3. Ask for Discounts
Check out all your local stores, and if there are offers for teachers, ask if homeschoolers can get the same discounts too.
4. Shop Smart
When you’re looking for ways to control your homeschooling budget it’s really important that you know not only what to get but know where to actually shop. Dollar stores are great for saving money and you can get great deals on the basics. Check out flea markets, thrift stores, and even garage sales for art supplies, craft materials, games and movies.
5. Get Book Smart
Books are an important part of your homeschooling curriculum, and they can cost a fair fortune. If you want to control your homeschooling budget then there are plenty of ways to find used books for less. You may be able to find what you need on Freecycle. If you’ve got books you want to trade, PaperBack Swap lets you swap out textbooks, audio books, paperbacks, and hardbacks with other members for free. If you plan to use the same books for the entire year, renting them through Chegg.com or a similar site could save you as much as 75% compared to buying new. Now those are some serious savings. If these are not available in your area do some internet research for similar sites.
You’ll be surprised at how much you have at home which will help you to control your homeschooling budget, so always look for ways to recycle things that you’ve already got laying around your home that you can reuse. For example if you print out one-sided worksheets, use the other side for maths calculations or handwriting exercises. Newspapers, scraps of construction paper and old cardboard can be used for art projects. You can also use other things like empty milk jugs, water bottles, and even 2 litre soda bottles for some cool projects.
7. Make Clever Investments
Many homeschoolers spend a lot of money on different materials for manipulative play as this is an extremely important part of learning. Instead of using up your budget on lots of materials that won’t last, consider making an investment in a proper manipulative play set that will last for years. The Spielgaben set is the ideal teacher for a homeschooling family and is for kids aged from 3 years to 12 years. It will provide your kids with endless learning opportunities and will grow with your kids.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when homeschooling will be the curriculum that you choose to teach. If you buy the pre-packaged, all-included curriculums, it is all there for you and can save you heaps of time, but it can cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars according to homeschooling families, depending on what you decide to buy. If you have the time to put in a bit of extra effort you can create a curriculum that’s customised to your child’s learning style as well as their interests and this will really help you to control your homeschooling budget!
Alternatively your kids can enroll in independent studies. This can add a couple of hundreds of dollars to your curriculum costs. This is often a good idea if there are subjects that you’re weaker in, for example math or science. This could then be a great investment to make.
8. Free Online Resources
There is no doubt about it, but the internet is just jam-packed with ideas for homeschooling parents, which can help you build the ideal curriculum for your child. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of sites that have got free printable resources including worksheets, colouring pages, craft ideas, games and much, much more. You will be able to source an endless supply of teaching materials. There are even great virtual schools that offer advanced online courses at really reasonable prices, and even free online college courses. As an example, The Florida Virtual School is free to Florida residents.
9. Online Subscription Resources
For a low fee, subscription sites give you access to even more educational resources. For example, EnchantedLearning.com offers more than 30,000 pages of learning materials for students from pre-K through to 12th grade. You can use the site to teach your kids about everything from astronomy to zoology for just $20 per year. Now compare that with the cost of a pre-packaged curriculum that is literally for free!
There are loads more sites with free or extremely affordable curriculum materials including Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool, Ambleside Online, Khan Academy, An Old-Fashioned Education, Lesson Pathways and Crash Courses which has an extensive library of educational videos.
10. Make the Library your New Best Friend
The library is another wealth of resources that you can tap into for free. It’s not just about books anymore, you can find DVD’s, CD’s, magazines and loads more to help your child on their learning journey. Sometimes libraries even lends out things like musical instruments, games and complete learning kits which include books and activities related to specific themes. You can choose a theme that you know your child is interested in and there you have it! Use this resource wisely to control your homeschooling budget.
Field trips are a great way to give your lesson plans some context in a fun and engaging way. Heading out and about also keeps the kids from going completely crazy! You can make field trips a real adventure and something for the kids to look forward to.
11. Have Fun for Free
Field trips don’t need to be expensive and here are some great tips in our guide to homeschooling budgeting. You can literally go to the local park and view insects if you’ve been studying them. If you’re studying the oceans then head to the beach if you live near one. Even a simple trip to the grocery store can provide heaps of opportunities for learning. For example, if you have younger children you can help them learn to recognise letters by reading packaging labels. Older kids can learn about weights and measures by using the scale in the produce section.
Another great idea is to look for local free events, fairs or festivals that are geared towards children and make this a fun outing.
12. Low Cost Days Out
You can also visit museums or the aquarium, but look out for special offers; either get an annual membership or look out for free days, which some museums do on an annual basis.
Think creatively. If you’re planning a lesson on fruits, see if there are any orchards in your area that you can visit. These are normally a really cheap way to enjoy the outdoors and to get to pick fruits yourselves too. You can really get the kids interested in their subjects through these cheap activities.
13. Homeschooling Groups
In most areas there are homeschooling groups that you can belong to. Depending on whether they are run by volunteers or professionals, the costs could be anywhere from $100 to $1,000. These are a great way to get the kids out and get them socialising, however you have to weigh up the investment and whether this is important to you.
14. Extracurricular Activities
When you’re homeschooling you will probably be spending quite a lot on extracurricular activities. In order to control your homeschooling budget don’t sign your kids up for every single activity. Think carefully about what they enjoy and what you will get the most value from, as well as which activities allow them to socialise.
Example of a Typical Homeschooling Budget
We have put together an example of a homeschool budget of what you can expect. We hope this helps you out in your planning.
If you’re considering homeschooling, then you should stick to our guide to control your homeschooling budget to make things that much more affordable. Homeschooling does require a significant investment in time, but it doesn’t necessarily have to include a significant investment in money. As long as you have the time to use alternative resources to find worksheets and more, you can come in on a generally doable budget. Consider each and every purchase and make sure that it is worth the investment. Stuff that might require a little bit more investment upfront, like the Spielgaben, is a good buy as it lasts for years and grows with your child up to the age of 12. It also has many components to it that can teach a number of different subjects in a fun and engaging way.
Developing a homeschool strategy that works for you and your kids definitely involves trial and error, but by doing your homework, you can expand your kids’ educational horizons without putting a strain on your wallet.
If you’re a homeschooling family, what are your most expensive costs and do you have any other ideas on how to save money? We’d love to hear your thoughts.