How Do We Afford To Homeschool?

homeschool-haul-1The most common question I receive about homeschooling, besides “how do I stand being at home with my children all day, every day”, would be, “isn’t homeschool expensive”? I’ll go ahead and answer both.

The answer to the first question is the easiest. I not only love my children, but I happen to like them very much. I know what you’re thinking, they’re your children, you have to like them, right? Well, no. I have to love them. Liking your children means you genuinely want to spend time with them and enjoy their company. When you don’t like your children, it means you spend your time trying to find ways to get away from them, and you tell everyone you meet how they drive you crazy and you couldn’t stand to spend that much time with them. I know, because I hear this from parents so frequently and all too often it’s right in front of their children. This breaks my heart beyond measure.

Now for the less depressing question, I hope…

Homeschooling is as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. It really is. You can spend upwards of $3,000 for one curriculum per child, not including the basic supplies you will need, or you spend a tiny fraction of that and spend time researching and planning, and design your own curriculum. You can purchase used textbooks from sources such as Ebay, Amazon, or homeschool swaps and get the prices even lower. Or even still, you can forgo the majority of textbooks for your child and create a full curriculum for your child by utilizing Pinterest, Netflix, the internet, and your local library.

I have been on every spectrum of spending. I have purchased the boxed curriculum where everything has been laid out for me. I will be honest, this is my least favorite. I happen to think that most boxed curriculum are over priced, and for us, too much like public school where every child is expected to be on the same level for every subject. This just doesn’t work for us. My four children are so different and were all on different levels in different subjects. I found some to excel, say in math, but struggle with reading, or vice versa.

This led me to building my own curriculum. The first year I ordered everything from my favorite homeschool supply store. I had a hefty bill, keep in mind, I was homeschooling three children at the time, but it was still much cheaper than purchasing the boxed curriculum. I will admit, I was much happier with this option. I was able to test my children in most subjects to ensure I purchased the books for the right level for each of them. It was easier, but it wasn’t perfect.

The next few years I would continue to go this route, but I wised up and purchased our books, mostly from Ebay. What a huge savings! I averaged less than $50 for textbooks for each child. Keep in mind that this took a lot of advance purchasing and checking back frequently to get the books I wanted, and it also took some compromise knowing I couldn’t always find exactly what I was looking for, but for the most part I did.

I still use the used book method for certain subjects, especially Math. In fact, I have already purchased Dillon’s Saxon Math curriculum for next year. I found it on Ebay for $15 vs. paying the full $91 cover price.

Now, for our current, least expensive, and in our opinion, most fun option…

This year, I have discovered Pinterest for homeschool, as well as every other wonderful area in my life. Yes I said I discovered it. I know thousands of others have been there before me, but I feel like the Columbus of the homeschool world right now, you know, discovering something that a whole population already knew was there.

Of course I was already on Pinterest, but I hadn’t taken advantage of the homeschool aspect of it. I started out simply supplementing the textbooks with worksheets and experiments, but I found that Dillon was responding better to the things that we were doing this way, vs. the texts. Not to mention, my biggest expenses are computer ink and paper for print offs. Of course, our hands on projects range in price, but we were doing hands on projects even after purchasing the way too expensive boxed curriculum.

Pinterest has allowed us to not only save money, but it has given me a sense of control about what the kids are learning and so much flexibility. This year we have been doing unit studies, and we get so much inspiration from Pinterest. We simply pick a subject, look it up, find books to coincide what we’re doing and find lots of activities, experiments, and print worksheet and/or games.

We also pay the $10 monthly fee for Netflix. Now I am not big on TV at all, especially for  children, but when doing many of our unit studies, we are able to find videos that supplement out subject and help bring it to life. We don’t use it for everything we are working on, but quite often I am able to find a documentary or science show on that the kids enjoy. If I was going to try to cut our budget, this would probably be one of the first things to go, but I do think it’s worth the $10 fee so far.

The beauty of this is the kids love the way our school year has been going and there are so many things for every age and grade level, as well as subject on Pinterest. I have found with a few basic supplies, we have saved so much money, and the kids are really learning, having fun, and really get engaged with what they are doing because we can change it up so much.

So, as you can see, with a little work and planning, you can get as creative and inexpensive as you’d like. I’m sure you could get even cheaper and get by with a notebook, pencil, and your local library, but that’s just not for us. If you’re thinking of homeschooling your child(ren), please don’t let the fear of pricey curriculum drive you away. You can always get around it, and you and your family will be blessed in so many ways, I know ours have.