**This post contains affiliate links**
We have seen an influx of people interested in homeschooling in our area due to recent decision made by our local schoolboard concerning masks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter what the decision is… people are going to be mad. Last week, they voted to make masks optional and offered a virtual learning option. People were mad… they told the school board they were irresponsible and didn’t care about the children’s health and were using children as pawns in the political game. This week, they revoted and voted to make masks mandatory and no virtual option.. so everyone in person, with masks on. Guess what? People were mad… they told the school board they were irresponsible and didn’t care about children’s health and were using children as pawns in the political game. No one is happy. No one is in agreement. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes (ooops… too far?… maybe…).
I am all for homeschooling. We have been doing it for years and years. I was a public school teacher before we had kids. I never considered homeschooling. Well… that’s not entirely true. The reason I got my degree in education was so I could be a missionary and go to foreign lands and teach children… maybe my own children one day … but in those foreign lands. Spoiler alert… I didn’t go to the foreign lands, but I am teaching my children during foreign times.
One concern I see pop up over and over is about the affordability of homeschooling. Many people who are one income families just don’t see how they can manage. Many people who have both parents working have similar concerns.
Let me tell you right now… homeschooling requires sacrifice. You will sacrifice time, money, energy… but it is worth the sacrifice.
We have gone through many, many seasons in our marriage and child raising. Most seasons have been seasons of want… seasons of not knowing how and when we will pay bills… seasons of praying that sound under the hood of car is just a charming quirk and not warranting a trip to the mechanic…. seasons of relying on hand me downs for clothes, generosity of family at Christmas, forgiveness and extensions on bills, coupons, deals, eBay, and more. For the most part, my husband has been the primary breadwinner of the family. We made the choice for me to stay home with our four kids. Through the years I have had different part time jobs to help out here and there. This was never something my husband asked me to do, but rather something I wanted to do… for financial help and for my own sanity. It is good to have outlets. I have been a tutor, a cake decorating teacher, a cake decorator, a seamstress, a graphic designer, a blogger, a speaker… and a few more that I cannot remember.
I wanted to take some time to share some tips and tricks to keeping homeschooling affordable. It can be very overwhelming and the cost can add up quickly…. especially if you are new to the game and aren’t quite sure what to look for.
Know your weaknesses
The one thing that I have always prioritized when it comes to curriculum buying is math. I know that I am not a math person. Once you get past about third grade, I am really confident in my ability to teach. I know how I get answers, but I don’t really know how to teach it. SO… I always made sure to purchase a solid math curriculum. We chose Math U See… and let me tell you why. I met the creator of Math U See when I was a young, pregnant with my fourth, first time home school mom. I gave him my story about my husband just graduating from seminary and how we were moving to a new state with a new job and no friends. I asked if they had any type of scholarship or discounts and he ended up giving me the first two levels for free. That was it. We have continued to use the Math U See throughout our homeschool journey. I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Demme (creator of Math U See) again this year at the NCHE Thrive conference and was able to thank him for being someone that led to my endurance and success with homeschooling.
Which leads me to my second point:
If you have a need… ask! There’s no harm in asking for help. Many homeschool co ops offer scholarships for their members. Curriculum companies are often looking for affiliates to help spread the word about their product. You may be paid in credit back to the company or a small fee. A couple of examples of affiliates that I have been beneficial for me are:
IEW (Intstitute for Excellence in Writing)– A payment percentage as well as some free products.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com– percentage payment
Reading Eggs– Free subscription extension
Be sure to check and see if your favorite curriculum company has an affiliate program.
I am part of the Homeschool Review Crew as well. They accept people who have a blog/ social media presence to help get the word out about various products. We have received so many GREAT products through this program. It is time consuming, but definitely a way to get some product you may not typically be able to afford. We have received products from places like Homeschool in the Woods, Progeny Press, Math U See, CTC Math, Math Essentials, World Watch News… just to name a few. You can click on my Product Reviews to check out the variety.
It doesn’t hurt to ask!
You bring something to the table… I promise. You have skills. How can you use your skills and talents to give to the community and receive from others as well. Can you babysit? Tutor? Teach Music Lessons?
One year, I wanted my children to take a Spanish class at a local co op. For both kids to take the class was a little outside of my financial abilities. HOWEVER… I have been known to make custom t shirts using heat press vinyl. The director asked if I’d be willing to make T Shirts and Sweatshirts for the co op in exchange for the classes. I still invested some money in supplies, but not nearly the amount I would have spent if I simply paid for the class.
I used to babysit… OFTEN! Sometimes for free because I know how hard it is to find childcare when you are on a budget… and I already had a house full of kids… so what’s one or two more. It was fun for my kids… and guess what… social interaction. Plus my kids got to see love in action. Sometimes I got paid for babysitting which was awesome and helped paid for some extra curriculars like karate and gymnastics.
Are you a science loving mom? Guess what… there are plenty of moms who are NOT science loving and would love for you to come and teach their children. In the year my son took biology, I was not great about getting him to complete labs. I asked one of my science loving friends if she would be interested in holding a week long lab intensive.I gathered students for her and we made it happen. Both of my older children went to “dissection camp” and all I had to do was drive. P.S.- they did NOT like that I kept calling it camp!
We have to complete yearly standardized testing in North Carolina. The one that I prefer to use is the Woodcock Johnson. However… this has to be administered by a trained tester and can get pricey. Twice I have traded a wedding cake for testing and once I sewed some baby blankets, bumper, and bedding in exchange.
Another friend of mine put on a Geography camp one year. She rented space at a local activity center and invited kids to come for five mornings and take a trip around the world. She charged money for her camp to cover rent, supplies, and to pay herself for the time. The kids had a blast and we were able to support a fellow homeschooler.
One of our local homeschool co ops offers enrichment classes. These are taught and assisted by parents. Depending on how you are involved, you get discounts or classes for your own children. They offer free classes for teachers. I used to teach all three hours simply so my children could take classes for free. It was exhausing, but worth it. I also served on the Board of Directors of this group for several years. One of the board perks is free membership. How can you be involved? How can you bring your skills and talents into the community and also benefit your family.
Free Homeschool Curriculum Options
Yes! They exist! You don’t actually have to pay money to homeschool your children!!!
- Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool – “We exist to help families homeschool. We enable families to homeschool who thought they couldn’t because of a lack of finances, a lack of time, or a lack of know-how. Others join EP just because it’s easy and fun and they’re confident of the quality of education. EP seeks to free families from the burden of pursuing the “perfect” and encourages them to let it be “enough.” Each family and each child is different and we seek to provide the resources to enable your family to be who you were created to be.” (Christian Worldview)
- Khan Academy – “Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP®, SAT®, and more. It’s all free for learners and teachers.” (Secular Worldview)
- Scratch from MIT– “With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.” (Secular Worldview with a Social Component- kids can post and chat)
- Burning Cargo– Free online typing game- 2nd-12th grade.
- The Good and The Beautiful– Their language arts and math curriculum for 1st- 5th grade are FREE to download. The prices you see on there are for the physical books. If you click through to the specific levels, you’ll see instruction on how to download the free pdfs. From my understanding, the author of The Good and the Beautiful is Mormon- but I have not experiences Mormon teachings in the curriculum. It does use Scripture from the Bible and references God and prayer.
- School Yourself – Math for 8th-12th grade
- Education.Com– This site provides free worksheets for the basic membership. If you want more, you have to pay for the premium.
- Crash Course Videos– These are on YouTube… they have TONS for all ages and subjects. (Secular Worldview)
- DuoLingo– Free foreign language program. “Combining the best of AI and language science, lessons are tailored to help you learn at just the right level and pace.”
- Ambleside Online– “AmblesideOnline is a free curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own PNEU schools. Our goal is to be true to Charlotte Mason’s high literary standards. AmblesideOnline uses the highest quality books and costs no more than the cost of texts.”
I could really go on with this list. There are an unbelievable amount of free resources for homeschoolers- from free games, art classes, specific subjects all the way to full curriculum. Check out this list from Freedom Homeschooling with many, many more options.
Many bloggers offer Free Printables as well- especially for the younger years. If you have a Pinterest account, just go and search for Free Preschool Printables or Free Middle School Book Report Printables… anything really.
Inexpensive Homeschool Curriculum
- Teachers Pay Teachers– This is an open marketplace for curriculum/ lessons created by teachers and for teachers. Be careful- this is affordable, but can add up quickly as you are buying different things. Every shop has to offer something for free, so be sure to check out what is there. My shop (Ninja Mom Teaches) offers Bible study resources and other No Prep printables!
- SchoolhouseTeachers.com– “It’s the curriculum site of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. We currently offer classes for preschool through high school as well as several courses for parents. Courses vary in length and intensity, from a few weeks to a full year or more. Academic weighting for transcripts of many high school classes is included.” Schoolhouse Teachers has hundreds of courses offered for preschool- 12th grade. They offer parent support. You also get access to World Book online and Right Now Media. They are currently offering a buy one year, get one free promo. That’s two years for $179… use the code EXPLORE (Christian WorldView)
- Homeschool Legacy– Unit studies for 2nd-12th grade. This is something you can do with the whole family! Affordable and solid content.
- Super Teacher Worksheets– No prep printables- Just print and go. Many different subjects available. K-5th grade.
- Time for Learning– Online for PK-12th with a variety of subjects available. (Secular Worldview)
The terms “inexpensive” and “affordable” are subjective. I would encourage you to do some research and see what’s out there. Consider your learning and teaching preferences as well. Check out this post I wrote on Different Styles of Homeschooling.
Please don’t let finances hold you back from homeschooling. If this is something you feel called to, go for it. You can make it work. Honestly… a library card and internet access can go a long way!
Do you have favorite resources or tips that aren’t listed above. Drop them in the comments!