Homeschooling does not have to break your budget! The range of families who homeschool varies from the wealthy movie stars to low-income families that must be careful with every dime. Keep in mind that although you may be spending money to homeschool, you will save money by not having your child in a public or private school.
Older clothes work fine for the home setting, where more stylish (and expensive) clothes are desired for school. It is far cheaper to make lunch at home than to buy a school lunch every day, and that money can add up to a significant amount that can be used for homeschool resources. There are no book fees to pay to a school so that money can also go into your homeschool fund. School fundraisers are avoided and the money spent on them goes in the pot as well. By the time you add up all of the school expenses that you have saved, you might be surprised to find that homeschooling isn’t as expensive an alternative as you thought it would be! It is entirely possible to successfully homeschool without spending a fortune, and below are some great resources to add to your budget homeschooling toolbox.
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Homeschooling on a Budget Blog Posts
“I am a homeschooling mom from Minnesota. My brother-in-law told me that he knows of homeschool families in North Dakota who get paid $1500.00 a month to homeschool. Is this true?” Get paid for homeschooling? Sounds good, right? Find out more about the circumstances in which there might (or might not) be money for homeschooling. Read More »
Homeschooling is an economic challenge for many families, including mine. Sometimes it takes extra creativity to make it work. I’ve had to adjust my habits and expectations along the way. The two most important things for me have been crafting a realistic budget and being clear about our family’s priorities. Making homeschooling work is non-negotiable in our family, so we make adjustments in other areas. I’ve learned that courage and creativity can enable a sense of richness and abundance while keeping things economically balanced. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned. Read More »
Holiday celebrations are important. Over the years we’ve focused mainly on simple, handmade, joy-filled ways of celebrating. Our crowd’s favorite kind of birthday party typically includes a special birthday snack, a gaggle of kids, and a fun place to run around. I encourage my children–and their friends–to give gifts of the heart: treasures from nature, homemade goodies, special handmade items, lovingly selected hand-me-downs, thoughtfully chosen items. We’ve stepped away from commercially prescribed traditions and created our own. We have consciously shaped many heartfelt traditions that we can replicate year after year even when the budget is meager. Read More »
LibriVox is a great online source for free audio books. This means you and the kids can listen to lots of well known classic fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books — at no cost — right from your personal computer, smart phone, or tablet, by either streaming or downloading the audio files. The books available on LibriVox are books whose copyright has expired, meaning LibriVox volunteers can record them without violating copyright laws, and you can listen without paying a purchase price. Read More »
Sharing audiobooks is a great way for kids and parents to learn together. Hearing the same material at the same time means that moments for discussion are well-synchronized, and kids can ask questions or ponder meaning in real-time—leading to all kinds of opportunities for inquiry-based learning. Best of all, you can access many audiobooks for free! Read More »
Try These Ideas Instead of Curriculum
Early on in our homeschooling journey, we tried many methods and styles of homeschooling. As my kids got older, I had to step back and evaluate what type of learning environment I wanted to create in our home. I had one vision, and it included all of us still sitting around doing as much together as possible because it was easier for me and because I thought that I had to do that in order to be ticking off the boxes for homeschooling the right way. However, my kids had other ideas. And, because it’s their education, I really needed to ... Read More »
Recently on TheHomeSchoolMom’s Facebook page someone asked for recommendations for her soon to be 4 year old. It took me back to when I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and had recently decided to homeschool. I. Was. So. Excited. What curriculum should I use? How should we schedule our days? (I bought Managers of Their Homes and carefully scheduled every moment of our days and then proceeded to never once use the schedule.) I made lesson plans and felt organized and believed that my kids were going to get the best education ever. And honestly, ... Read More »
I’m a member of several homeschooling groups and email loops, and the most common questions are all related to, “It’s a battle to get my child to do her work. I thought homeschooling would be better for my child, but it’s all tears and yelling. For both of us. I may have to put her back in school.”
The specifics vary, but many parents new to homeschooling are trying to recreate a public school environment in their home and finding that it doesn’t work. It’s not their fault. Most of us went to public school; it’s what we know. We’re taught ... Read More »
For many families, homeschooling provides amazing opportunities to reflect on, reconsider, and restructure daily routines and rhythms around what matters the most. They find themselves opting out of the rush ‘n go in favor of a slower-paced, more balanced, fully flavored schedule. Having more TIME is just one awesome by-product: time to slow down and do things your own way, with intention and purpose; time to establish routines that will nourish and nurture you, your children, and your family, your community, restore balance, and provide important flexibility; time to explore and follow your passions, get involved in community projects, try ... Read More »
Winter is a wonderful time to take Alphabet Walks with your children. In my part of the U.S., this means bundling up for the cold weather, but hunting for the ABCs in nature may be just the thing to get you and the kids moving on darker winter days.
The main object of an Alphabet Walk is to find letters that have been unintentionally formed in the outdoors. Perhaps crossing tree branches form an X against the blue sky, or a cat curved on your deck forms a perfect C. A front door wreath on your neighbor’s house is an O. ... Read More »
This week I visited with a homeschooling family whose son was anxiously awaiting his shipments from New Egg and Tiger Direct — full of the components he would assemble into his own PC.
This brought back fond memories, since two of my three sons undertook this same project during their teen years, and my oldest actually did the same after he graduated. Read More »
One of the most accessible basic logic books on our book shelf is The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning by Nathan and Hans Bluedorn. The book helps kids (and adults) spot errors in thinking — logical fallacies often used in an effort to persuade others. Learning about fallacious thinking is valuable for academic reasons, but it’s also important to being a good consumer (recognizing how advertising works) and to being a good citizen (understanding how political communication works). Read More »
Put Homeschooling in the Bag – Your homeschool group or co-op might enjoy working together to create homeschooling activity bags for a swap. This was a fun idea our family did with a homeschool group, and it sort of works like a cookie swap at holiday time. You gather inexpensive supplies for a single hands-on pre-school activity, homeschool craft, or simple science experiment or demonstration (up through elementary age), and you put them in a zipper plastic bag with instructions. The beauty part is — you make up ten or twenty identical activity bags (according to the number of families ... Read More »
Bernie DeKoven may be a guru of fun but he’s got a serious message for all of us. We need more playfulness! This game designer and fun theorist was a pioneer in computer game design and instrumental in the New Games movement. His new book, A Playful Path, is jam-packed with awesomeness. It’s made up of tools and ideas to inspire the possibility-building, wide-open glory of playfulness. Read More »
Words, words, words! A variety of research, such as that by the University of Kansas, has demonstrated that the number of words children know dramatically impacts their success in other academic areas. While reading to children is one of the best ways to help them gain a strong vocabulary, at some point it is helpful to study vocabulary words in an intentional way. For older children this is often incorporated as part of English or Reading curricula, but for young children, such as those who have just learned to read, what options are there for learning vocabulary? Read More »
When I was in high school and college, my mom clipped newspaper and news magazine articles for me. She left them for me on the steps to my bedroom or put them in an envelope and mailed them to me at with a handwritten note in the margin — “Thought you’d be interested in this” or “What do you think about this news?” Today, I do something similar with my teen and twenty-something sons, only I do it electronically. Read More »
If you’re looking for a unique way to inspire your children’s curiosity and interest in history, consider introducing them to genealogy. You can use your own family tree to make history more relevant and meaningful to children, strengthen their sense of identity, and help them to see where they fit in time and place in this world. Using your family tree to learn about the life and times of grandparents is a great example of “social history,” which studies the experiences of ordinary people. Notice the word experiences — if you portray history in terms of experiences rather than facts, ... Read More »
Here are some of the hands-on tools homeschoolers use to help their kids make sense of the basic concept of multiplication as well as related multiplication facts. Give them a try! Read More »
What do you get when your child combines a unit study and notebooking with a blog?
You get the homeschool version of a Virtual Learning Environment (a fancy way of saying learning that is enhanced by the Internet).
Homeschooling parents can use what they already know about unit studies and notebooking to have their children create their own unit study blogs on specific topics — their own VLE’s. Read More »
Our family has greatly enjoyed using The Great Courses audio and video recorded classes. The first of The Great Courses we used was The Story of Human Language, presented by leading linguist John McWhorter, who gives 36 lectures about the development of human language, why languages change or become extinct, dialects, how languages and their grammars affect thinking, and what the study of language can tell us about history and interconnectedness of early peoples.
From there, we began listening to every Great Courses CD set the library had. They offer courses in science, math, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, history, ... Read More »
This year as I was making my rounds as a homeschool evaluator in Virginia, I ran across a number of homeschooled kids who were using an affordable mini-computer called a Raspberry Pi in order to do computer projects and learn programming. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation: The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s ... Read More »
Among my favorite homeschooling resources are our audio recordings by storyteller Jim Weiss. These stories provided many important cultural touchstones for my children during their pre-reading and early reading years, introducing them to historical, scientific, literary, and mythological figures and tales. This is where my children first learned of Galileo, Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes. Read More »
You can drill and kill the times tables to help your kids learn multiplication facts – or you can play math games with them. Here are some of the math games that helped our sons practice multiplication painlessly. Read More »
Why do some homeschoolers choose not to use one of the many complete math curricula available today? And what do they do instead? To many homeschooling parents, math feels like the one thing that must be taught and learned in a systematic way even for very young children. Even many people who are otherwise attracted to or influenced by a version of interest-based learning or unschooling often say– “except for math.” Read More »
One of my favorite “instead of curriculum” titles is the book Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists by Joel Best.
This book is a great book for your high schooler to read. While it can be paired with a traditional study of statistics, it also works well on its own for kids who need to understand statistics from either a consumer point of view or for fact-checking research or stories in the media. Read More »
As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it’s truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum.
I’m used to hearing that you can’t learn math this way — that’s a common chorus among homeschoolers — but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the “instead-of-curriculum” approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing–learning to print. Read More »
Working with electronic circuit boards may sound ambitious or advanced, but my kids enjoyed playing with these as part of their science and technology learning when they were in their early elementary years. They learned many concepts about creating circuits from hands-on play, in particular by using a kid-friendly Snap Circuits® Kit from Elenco. Read More »
Don’t depend on boring government textbooks; use an activities approach to learning how government works. If teens do these activities, talk about their experiences with you and others, and follow rabbit trails online, they will likely retain more knowledge about how government works than if they just read from a government textbook. Read More »
During my busy season helping families meet Virginia’s annual evidence of progress requirement for homeschoolers, I enjoy seeing all the resources parents use to help their children learn. This year, one of the resources a child was most excited about was DIY.org.
At DIY.org, children can choose to complete challenges for different “Skills,” earning both virtual and real embroidered patches (purchasing the patches is optional and is the only cost involved in the program), and developing a portfolio of videos and photos showing when challenges are accomplished. Read More »
Some of my favorite children’s books are also wonderful learning resources you can use instead of curriculum. Among these are the oversize children’s classics about mythology by the d’Aulaires. The D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and the D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths delighted all my kids when they were pre-readers through their late elementary years, and I found that the understanding of mythology they learned from these books persisted through their middle school and high school years, when they needed to spot and comprehend literary allusions to mythology. Read More »
“Bring me bad writing,” I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. “Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it.”
The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they’d found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals.
They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Read More »
Those of us who have been homeschooling a while know that sometimes the best resources aren’t the newest or flashiest. That’s the case with Boomerang Audio Magazine for kids. A big benefit of these audio resources is that kids can be busy doing other things with their hands or bodies while listening. For some kids, this actually enhances learning, because they’re not focused on having to keep still, which can take a lot of energy. Read More »
Everyone has a comment on the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I talk to people about homeschooling, they frequently mention the availability of “so much curriculum these days,” as if that is the single most important factor in being able to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers, prospective homeschoolers, and new homeschoolers seem surprised that many homeschoolers use learning materials that are not, strictly speaking, part of a homeschool curriculum. There are many reasons why people use other learning resources instead of curriculum. Read More »
When I tried to throw our dictionary out my oldest threw a fit.
This is a very old dictionary. It was owned by my Great Aunt Mildred. The book is huge, with indents along the side for each letter of the alphabet. It’s also not in good shape. Threads are hanging out of a nearly wrecked spine and the pages are yellowing. Until recently it sat on our living room trunk, ready to answer all inquiries. As my kids got older and Google got ever closer to our fingertips, I figured we didn’t need it. According to my son, I am wrong. ... Read More »
The kids had a bunch of boards, some old nails, a hand saw, and a few hammers. They also had the two most important ingredients, the desire to make something and the freedom to do so.
They spent an afternoon planning their tree fort, enthusiastically arguing over whose plan was best. Their first few attempts failed spectacularly. They were undaunted, even bragged a little bit about the noise the boards made falling down. Several of them asked family members for advice. A few others paged through books and watched YouTube videos as they tried to figure out basic construction techniques. They ... Read More »
A great activity for your homechool group or co-op is a library scavenger hunt. Working with your librarian, plan a gathering for homeschoolers that includes sending the kids throughout the library to find resources, so they’ll get to know the library better. If the scavenger hunt is promoted by the library, you might even find some more homeschooling friends in your community if they show up at the scavenger hunt. You can organize the kids into pairs or teams (and have the youngest kids hunt with an adult), and send them out with a list of things for each child ... Read More »
In an earlier post, I described how hosting an international exchange student can be a benefit to a homeschooling family. Today I’d like to tell you a little more about the nuts and bolts of hosting a student in the United States. These details can help you to know what to expect when hosting an exchange student and can ease the transition for the whole family. Read More »
Tangrams are simple seven-piece puzzles that build visual-spatial skills. Kids and adults alike enjoy manipulating the standardized pieces in the set, which includes a parallelogram, a square, and three sizes of right triangles. The pieces can be fit together to form a square, and in fact, when the puzzle pieces are made of wood, they are often stored in a square wooden frame. The real fun and thinking occur while moving the shapes around to form “pictures” or shapes. There is a real challenge in matching shapes that are already drawn out as puzzles to solve. Read More »
It’s tough to think about learning when there’s so much fun to be had, and we understand! That’s why you’ll find five learning loss statistics below along with five suggestions on how to help your kids avoid the notorious “summer brain drain.” Read More »
Homeschooling is boring, your child is resistant, the curriculum seems “complete” but moves on quickly and without depth. You can improve this kind of homeschool experience by opening yourself to following the rabbit trails. What are rabbit trails? They are the paths you make as you help your child follow an interest or a question from one resource to the next. Read More »
The enigma of gift giving for children becomes even more challenging for homeschoolers who wish to bequeath presents that will be useful and worthwhile even once the Christmas glow has dimmed. And while that new English curriculum might be what a homeschooling mother would enjoy seeing under the tree, her children might not be quite so excited. So what’s a conscientious homeschooling parent to do? Where do homeschoolers go to find gifts that are educational in nature, but that children will also enjoy? Read More »
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past — studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international — studying the current typical dress of modern-day ... Read More »
How YOU can get involved in real science!
There is a new craze hitting the streets, and hopefully this one is here to stay. It’s called citizen science. With the advancement of technology, it has become easier and easier for “regular” people to do real science. There are people everywhere interested in contributing to science, especially if it’s made easy for them. With citizen science, it is. Not only do citizens collect and report data, but they are becoming valuable helpers in analyzing the vast amount of data that is now available due to increased technology. The best part is ... Read More »
Where can you find over 100 free high quality unit studies? Boy Scouts! The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program offers great merit badge materials to its Scouts, which my older sons used on their way to achieving their Eagle Scout ranks. Completing merit badge requirements was often a great addition to their study of science, history, culture, government, business, and technology, and they also learned some great life skills for staying fit and healthy, managing money, and dealing with emergencies. Read More »
We just started homeschooling about a month ago. Our son is in first grade. We purchased the curriculum (here she named a specific well-known Christian curriculum), but it’s not going as well as I had hoped. My son really doesn’t like the structure of the program. He’s a six-year-old boy who loves to be outside. Any encouragement, advice, resources, wisdom, or thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks so much! Read More »
One thing that has remained consistent into the teen years for my kids is their need for hands-on learning. We’ve just updated and tweaked what that looks like these days compared with when they were younger. With some creativity, planning, partnership, and imagination, hands-on learning can be explored in a variety of ways. I’ve got nine ways you can cultivate hands-on learning for your older homeschooled kids. Grab your pen and planner, and let’s chat! Read More »
Hosting an international exchange student can be a great experience for homeschooling families. We hosted a student from Ecuador, and while the commitment can seem daunting, having Isaac José with us for a school year enriched our lives.
What are some of the benefits of hosting an international student? Read More »
Whether you’re home because school has been cancelled (Hi! Welcome!) or you’re an experienced homeschooler who is actually staying home now, you probably suddenly have hours upon hours on your hands. For those extra hours, check out these free educational resources to use online while you are practicing social distancing. Read More »
It’s not part of the traditional curriculum in United States schools or homeschool families — but playing chess is a part of the curriculum in about thirty countries around the world. According to Dr. Teresa Parr of MATCH, there are five significant educational advantages to chess for homeschoolers (and others) to consider. Read More »
Do you use educational podcasts for homeschooling? If not, you should! Podcasts are a great way for homeschoolers to explore a variety of topics and current events. Podcasts can be easily integrated into nearly all subject areas. Depending on the podcast platform you’re using, you can search for topics, people, events, etc. We’ve recently had some great conversations about the Loch Ness Monster, Amelia Earhart, and King Arthur. Read More »
Are you using audiobooks in your homeschool? If not, you are missing out on the awesome benefits that come from listening to books. Homeschooling parents embrace the benefits of audiobooks because audiobooks create a shared listening experience, with adults and kids on “the same page,” like watching a movie together… Read More »
Nutrition is an ideal homeschooling topic for the 10 – 14 year olds in your family or homeschool co-op. These middle years are an excellent time to go into more depth about what we eat and how it affects our health and growth. Tweens and early teens are especially interested in the changes brought by adolescence, and nutrition is a “safe” topic where kids can think about how their current choices affect their future. Read More »
Games have been a staple in our home(school) ever since my oldest received Candy Land at age three. While our stash of games has changed over the years, our love of playing games continues to flourish. I’ve compiled a list of classic, educational, and online games/apps that we’re enjoying with a house full of teens and tweens. Read More »
Gift-giving doesn’t have to be stressful! With our list of over 100 educational gift ideas for kids, you can cross off your gift list with educational gifts that are fun and promote learning and creativity. It might seem challenging to find fun and educational gifts that are not all technology-related. Now, I don’t have anything against technology, we use it every single day in our lives and homeschool. That said, I do try to find items and gifts that get them moving, creating or building and exploring. Read More »
Sites with Extensive Free Curricula
- Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool
A complete, free online Christian homeschool program for Preschool – 8th grade that was designed by a mom for her own kids
- Easy Peasy All in One High School
From the creator of Easy Peasy for Preschool – 8th grade, the high school site is set up similar to the lower school, except that there are no levels
- Ambleside Online
A complete, free online Charlotte Mason styled homeschool program with a corresponding discussion forum
- Khan Academy
Khan Academy now contains over 4200 free videos for K-12 in mostly math and science topics; some videos reach into the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer. Playlists are available to help progress through a topic in a logical manner.
- An Old Fashioned Education
A portal site for out of copyright resources linked by subject
- Enchanted Learning
Over 35,000 web pages of free printables for younger students (a small optional annual fee removed the advertising banners and supports the site)
- Crash Course
Engaging video courses (from John Green and his brother Hank) designed to be review courses for AP exams; topics available are US History, Chemistry, World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology.
Alison offers free courses on a variety of topics. All content is free, with the site funded by optional purchases of certificates and/or diplomas. Groups of courses are organized into Learning Paths, which allow students to work their way through a logical progression of course material.
Saving on Homeschool Curriculum
- Used Curriculum Resources
Our list of popular sources for used curriculum
- Homeschool Buyers Co-op
(Affiliate/referral link) HBC negotiates excellent deals with curriculum and resource providers based on quantity purchases.
Affordable or Free Online Resources
Printables and a spelling curriculum for younger students for a small annual fee
- Math Worksheet Site
Free worksheet generator
Extensive site with downloads for a reasonable annual fee
- Math-U-See Free Resources
Drills, worksheet generator, and webinars
Free online reading/phonics program
Extensive collection of carefully designed downloadable forms and resources
- Clever Dragons and Always Icecream
Although these sites want to separate the interests of boys and girls along gender roles, the sites are good quality learning games for younger students and could be be useful if your child enjoys the themes.
- Homeschool Share
Unit study printables
- Education World
Free online printables
- Learning Page
Free online printables
Free online learning games