Homeschooling can put a dent in the pocketbook, that's for sure. I don't know what the numbers are, but I would guess it's a pretty large majority of homeschool families that live on one income. Curriculum, field trips, extra classes and educational opportunities, sports, music lessons, and more are out of pocket expenses that can really add up. I am far from being an expert in the area of frugality, and we don't do everything we'd like to simply because the expense is higher than we're comfortable with, but I do have a few approaches to keep my homeschool cost down.
One of my favorite words to describe homeschool curricula or resources is: Non-Consumable. That means I can use it for more than one kid, for more than one school year, and when we do finish with it I can pass it along to someone else. It's easier for me to justify spending a hundred bucks on a something that each of my four kids can use, than on something that only one kid can use and then it's either archived or trash. This isn't to say that I never buy consumables - I certainly do, but I gravitate towards the non-consumable whenever I can.
Some of my favorite non-consumables:
- Exploring America and Exploring World History, both from Notgrass - these high school level sets are not only completely non-consumable, each provides for up to three full credits.
- ARTistic Pursuits - although each of these art instruction books is a bit of an investment, they can be used by more than one student at a time, and they can be used over and over. I think it's even quite acceptable for one student to return to a book that they've previously worked through and do the projects again a couple years down the road.
- Around the World in 180 Days - this is meant to be a study spine (sort of like a huge unit study) to cover geography, history, and world cultures over an entire school year. There is a teacher's edition and student workbook editions available. The teacher's edition is the part that is truly non-consumable, and I have purchased extra sets of the student workbooks so each kid could have their own. But we have used this resource over and over, and have stretched it out to last over two or three school years by going more in-depth.
The library can be a homeschooler's best friend, and we have been blessed to have an outstanding library system. We count on the library for a large portion of our research materials, and what I'd call add-ons - a book of hands-on activities related to North American Indians, or a book of international recipes for kids to make, or educational DVDs of all kinds. I'm a book-lover and own a lot of books, and prefer to buy the novels assigned for the Literature portion of the Notgrass sets mentioned above, for example. But if I didn't already own them or wasn't sure about them, we'd borrow from the library first. There have been very few books we have wanted for school that the library couldn't provide.
Getting involved in a co-operative effort can also provide some great learning opportunities that we wouldn't otherwise be able to offer. Our umbrella group runs a spring co-op that has allowed my kids to receive some instruction in art, music, hands-on science, sign language, and woodworking (to mention a few) that they wouldn't have received if I'd had to pay for the lessons or buy curriculum. Our homeschool fellowship group offers a gym class that makes it easy and quite affordable for my kids to get a weekly PE class. There are also numerous field trips organized by members of the fellowship group, and that allows us to take advantage of group or school rates, and shares the burden of organizing the trips.
|Projects Landon did in a co-op woodworking class|
|Kennady's co-op art class in 2010|
What are some of your favorite ideas to keep homeschool costs down? Leave a comment and let me know! Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog (this link will be live on Tuesday, May 7th) to see what other Crew members have to say about "The Frugal Homeschool". You can also visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog homepage to see the reviews we are working on, past reviews, and past blog cruise topics.
This post will also be included in the Living Frugally Round-up at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. (this link will be live Wednesday, January 21st).