Many conservatives are repeating the talking point that only the rich have school choice, leaving poor and middle class kids trapped in public schools–cue the government to come to the rescue… In reality, homeschooling is an affordable choice. After all, families that utilize the “free” public school system actually spend hundreds of dollars each year on back-to-school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, lunch kits, daily transportation costs, etc.–those same dollars could easily fund a homeschool.
Yes, the convenient boxed-set curriculum packages are pricey–but I will let you in on a little secret–no one I know uses them. Instead, many homeschoolers pull from whatever resources they can find, and use them as a starting point, to be enriched with activities, field trips, etc.
- Many local libraries offer not only books, but e-books, homeschool kits, audio books, DVDs, reference materials, computer access, and free activities. Many libraries will order books/DVDs you need or borrow books from another lending institution.
- Public schools discard new sample textbooks and used books and manuals from their classrooms and libraries. Contact the school for scheduled clean-outs. Even outdated textbooks can be used–I cut out pictures and timelines and use them for homemade flashcards or scrapbooks.
- Many homeschooling families participate in book swaps.
- Educational apps such as Duolingo are free.
- The internet brings countless free resources to our fingertips–from encyclopedias to maps, diagrams, timelines, printables, videos, songs, and even free online curriculum such as easypeasyhomeschool.com and khanacademy.com.
- Use what you have on-hand, such as beans rather than store-bought counters and manipulatives.
- Many museums and historic sites offer free admission once a month or during festivals or special events. Get on the mailing list and mark your calendar.
- Mother nature is a great teacher–and she works for free! Get outside and learn to identify trees, plants, clouds, constellations, moon phases, bugs, weather, and wildlife right in your own backyard. Start a nature collection for a science project. Use nature items for crafts.
- DIY: make homemade versions of the expensive products on educational websites and catalogs.
- Once the back-to-school rush is over, take advantage of the school supply clearance sales and stock up for the year.
- $1 stores and $1 bins usually carry educational posters and flashcards for basic math, presidents, states, planets, alphabet, phonics, etc. I like to store flashcards in the $1 flipbook photo albums. I also make my own flashcards using index cards.
- Check out used book stores such as Half-Price Books, which offers even deeper discounts in the clearance section.
- I make weekly rounds to the local thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and charity shops, which typically offer books for 50 cents to $2.
- Watch out for garage sales, library sales, and teacher retirement sales.
- Homeschool groups may offer book sales once or twice a year, or allow members to advertise books for sale.
- On-line retailers and marketplaces such as Craigslist and Amazon are a great option for books you can’t find locally.
- Many zoos offer memberships and discounted homeschool days once or twice per year.