Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive!
One of the biggest concerns when considering homeschooling is budget. Homeschooling families are often one or one-and-a-half income families and are already on tight budgets. Then when researching curriculum and extracurriculars, the overwhelm from the price tag can really be daunting.
However, one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that it is so much more than textbooks and workbooks! I am always telling homeschoolers:
“Homeschooling is learning through life!”
Homeschooling on a budget is more about changing your thinking and your educational paradigm. Recreating school at home is the most expensive thing you can do!
First Things First
Speaking of thinking, let’s get to the first things first. Your personal finances.
Ouch. I know that can hurt sometimes. But seriously speaking, most families are shocked at where their money is going when they actually track it and realize that money is being put toward things that aren’t in line with their priorities.
I’m not talking about being a crazed coupon clipper. There is a balance, but your family’s education is worthy of investment. And it is an investment that can pay for lifetimes. So get those finances in order and reflective of your priorities and family goals.
Invest in Simplicity and Quality
Two principles I love from Thomas Jefferson Education are “Simplicity, Not Complexity” and “Quality, Not Quantity.”
When it comes to investing in your kids’ education, these and the KISS (Keep it Simple Silly) principles are important if you need to homeschool on a budget.
There are so many awesome educational tools, gadgets, subscriptions, curriculums, etc. that make it seem like the things that will keep your kids engaged and having fun. But here’s the thing, if their love of learning is high, most of it is just fluff and probably won’t get used much anyway.
Do you ever notice how the more toys your kids have, the less they play with them? Kids can get overwhelmed with stuff, just like we can, and filling your home with things that aren’t adding value to your family end up causing stress, confusion, frustration and can actually lower love of learning.
The fact is that education and learning are really simple tasks.
Be intentional about the things you bring in your home. Choose quality things that last and are “classics” (something you gain more from every time you experience it).
Good books, good art, music, media and things your family can do together will make a greater learning environment than a bunch of worksheets and toys that focus on one skill and will be used only by one child.
There’s Free Stuff Everywhere!
One thing veteran homeschoolers are typically very good at is getting free or cheap stuff!
There is a ton of free and cheap material online. There’s free videos, worksheets, science experiments, lesson plans and even entire unit plans! It takes some effort to research and probably subscribing to a lot of email lists, but it can be very valuable.
And we all know it takes a village to raise a child, so use your village! In just about every place on the planet, there are amazing opportunities for you to connect with and learn from your family members, neighbors and community members.
I have used our neighbors to teach my son about different types of holidays we don’t celebrate ourselves, gardening/harvesting and so much more!
My extended family has also taught him so much, I can’t even begin to list them all. Everyone has strengths and expertise. Use those people to fill in your gaps, to create greater community and family relationships, and to send your kids the message that,
“Learning happens everywhere, all the time!”
Use the local library, music halls and museums, local historical sites and their docents, city recreation events, fire and police departments (Did you know most will do private tours for kids?), and local community leaders like the city council and public works departments.
We’ve gone to free or very cheap events, mostly even specially designed for kids’ education, at all these types of places, met with lots of community leaders and toured many local places.
Create Your Own Experiences!
There’s one caveat to all this though, in many instances, you have to call, ask for the meeting or group rate, and set it up, and that can be out of your comfort zone. However, when you do, you’ll be amazed at what you can make happen!
Connecting with other homeschool parents can help spread the load and make it more fun! That might be out of your comfort zone too, but it’s worth it! You and your kids will likely create relationships that can last a lifetime!
You Got This!
Homeschoolers have to be scrappy and a little bit of a rascal. By making the decision to homeschool, you are taking ownership of your kids’ education for whatever reason, so own it!
Whether you’re working or full-time homeschooler, you can homeschool on a budget. When love of learning is high, you’ll be surprised how much learning will happen without a Pinterest-worthy schoolroom.
Don’t get distracted by all the fluff. Be intentional and purposeful with your time and dollars, and your kids (and even you!) will get a great education!