14 tips for Homeschooling on a Budget
This year we have a lot of new families who are homeschooling for the first time. While it is a very exciting journey and parents are eager to go out and purchase supplies, it can add up in a hurry if parents aren’t careful. So we thought it would be helpful to discuss some cost-saving tips and tricks!
1. Know what you are entitled to for a resources allotment from your school board– every board if different! You need to make sure you review your school board’s handbook for their reimbursement policies and limits. Be sure to check for “hidden” or monitory fees. Do they require original receipts? Will they reimburse for only the child portion of an entrance fee? Knowing these things in advance will save not only time but hassle and save disappointment down the road.
2. Have a budget – According to a comprehensive report done several years ago (2003) by Pancanandian on Homeschooling, the average HS family will spend about $700 a year per child of their own money on resources, field trips, etc. This is very comparable to what parents currently spend on public school fees for bussing, supplies, lunch supervision, cultural fees, gym strip, etc.
3. Use the internet – There are hundreds of great resources that are free or very inexpensive. Some sites may require you to purchase an annual subscription to access all of their material. Many of these sites offer a trial period. We recommend using this feature. A lot of websites look great but will you and your child really use the material. A trial period gives you a chance to preview and to try it with your student.
4. Use the library – A library card is an inexpensive MUST for every homeschooling family! You can rent videos, CDS, MP3s, books, textbooks and more. Plus they have all kinds of free workshops onsite. Don’t forget to check out the sale section either. We have bought HUNDREDS of wonderful books for a dollar!
5. Make it yourself – Don’t spend $15 on laminate flash cards . . . with a bit of card stock, you can make your own. Kids love being able to help make their own study aids – this way they are personal and meaningful to their journey.
6. Garage sales – This is a great way to pick up a ton of resources for very little. Don’t pass over workbooks just because the first few pages have been scribbled in!
7. Used Curriculum sales – School boards and support groups host these at various times throughout the year. There is also an HS Yahoo for sale group.
8. Buy seasonally – When the new school supplies hit Walmart in September and January, be sure to stock up on the deals. Even homeschool kids love to get new supplies.
9. Share with others – If you are considering an expensive purchase, can you split it with another family. We did this with videos, workbooks etc.
10. Buy used – If there is a book you want, be sure to check Amazon and other places like that. Make sure you factoring the shipping expense.
11. Buy digital – With the advent of e-readers, you can often purchase a digital copy for much, much less than a print copy. We like this idea as it also saves on the storage issue afterward. Only challenge is that you can’t easily sell your material after you are done with it.
12. Use your iPad – Just like the internet, there are thousands of FREE educational apps available through the App store. The quality of these games and programs is outstanding and if you or your child does not like the app any more, you can just delete it.
13. Community resources – Because homeschoolers in the province of Alberta receive resource funding, many businesses and organizations now cater to us. Be sure to check out Parks and Rec as well as other community resources for great classes and events. Be sure to ask if they have a special homeshooling day.
14. Government resources– You can often order booklets and pamphlets from various government websites. There are excellent resources available on money management, post-secondary options and so on.
These are just a few cost-saving tips to make your homeschooling journey fun and affordable. If you have other ideas, please feel free to leave a comment here!