We all want to keep our homeschooling expenses down, particularly in the current economy, but few of us want to sacrifice our child’s education to do so. Here are 6 ways to cut homeschooling expenses without sacrificing a quality education.
But first, when discussing educational expenses there are several considerations we need to address:
A Good Education is Not Measured in Dollars
We tend to measure education by dollars — if we throw enough dollars at the situation, we can say we have “educated.” Fortunately, there are other metrics that work better for determining how much a child has learned. First we will need to determine what it means to be educated! For years, schools have released figures that consistently show dollars in does not equal quality out.
We tend 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?
Time Versus Cost
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.
The Do-It-Yourself Solution
So how can you cut your expenses? Do it yourself. Spending less is directly proportional to how much time you are willing to invest. Invest more time, spend less; invest less time, spend more.
Which represents the better option is strictly a personal choice. Each family will need to consider the costs — all of them, including the intangibles of stress on Mom and getting it all done — and choose the best option for their situation. 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 have also left behind the tools so 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 curriculum based on the Charlotte Mason approach. Some books can be purchased used or skipped. There is a completely free Emergency Learning Plan also 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.
- Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. Free K–8 courses already pulled together for you using online resources. The sister site covers high school.
- Use what you have.
Trade textbooks for living books, and workbooks for notebooks. Tutor your children, teaching them how to learn for themselves. 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 forms, 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 also free tools available online to help. Just remember that you have the advantage of being able to practice skills on the content areas. Here are a few examples (you’ll find several more on our Road Map page):
- 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.
- 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.
A master teacher teaches you how to tutor your children in a very simple (and low-cost!) way.