There are several considerations we need to address, the first being the tenancy to equate “good education” with dollars. Look at the statistics of any public school these days and realize dollars-in does not equal quality-out.
The second consideration we need to address is the tendency to assume the experts can do a better job. Many former teachers will tell you that when they started homeschooling their own children they had to forget much of what they had learned. In a home environment there is no need for classroom management or administration. What you are really doing is tutoring your child, providing him with one-on-one instruction that lends itself to an education tailored to meet his specific needs.
How many dollars will it require to do this? That question leads us to the third consideration, mom’s ability and interest in pulling together her child’s course of study. Some moms shudder to think of the responsibility of designing a course of study and prefer to rely on resources others have prepared. Others simply are not able to invest the necessary time required. Still others have no interest in doing so.
So how can you cut your expenses? DIY. Spending less is directly proportional to how much time you are willing to invest. Invest more time, spend less; invest less time, spend more. I am not suggesting that either is more or less preferred. Each family needs to consider the costs (all of them, including the intangibles) and decide for themselves the best options for their family. If I don’t have the inclination to bake bread every week, I’ll be spending more at the store. I’m ok with that!
So, in order of increasing cost, six ways to cut homeschooling expenses:
- Use one of the free online programs that are already laid out for you. Those who have gone before have not only paved the way by encouraging us forward, but also by leaving the tools behind that others might pick them up and use them. There are several nearly or completely cost-free options.
- Ambleside Online. Free (or nearly free) full Charlotte Mason-based curriculum. Some books can be purchased used or skipped. There is a completely free Emergency Learning Plan available.
- An Old-Fashioned Education. Miss Maggie has pulled together a free curriculum using books in the public domain. Using a living-books approach, you are providing your child with texts that have not been “dumbed-down,” and that are easily customizable.
- Apply a literature-based approach to your homeschool. Living books can be found for every area of study. Adding narration and writing, and using online math books and courses, your child will have a complete, challenging, rich and rewarding education.
- Pull together your own studies using materials and books that are available free online. The internet has made worksheets, tools, and books in the public domain easy to find and use. All you really need to pull this off is the will, the time, and an organizing framework. If you are unsure what your child needs when, there are free tools available online to help. Here are a few examples:
- Buy used. If you feel more comfortable using a prepared math program, for example, you can always get more bang for your buck by purchasing a used copy from booksellers specializing in used books or one of the online auctions. You can also purchase from other homeschoolers (scroll down to the bottom).
- Buy an all-in-one program. Unit studies and other interdisciplinary curriculum are generally less expensive than purchasing a textbook for each subject area.
- Buy only the pieces you need from prepared programs. Many times materials made for the classroom contain a variety of extras homeschoolers simply do not need. You can reduce your homeschooling costs by purchasing only those materials your child will find useful.