articles / Frugal living / Homeschooling

Choosing homeschooling: Curriculum/supplies and cost

For some reason, some people have it in their mind that in order to homeschool you have to plan on spending several hundreds of dollars a year and on up into the thousands range if you have more than one student. Josiah is almost through with Kindergarten and I can tell you that I’ve not spent nearly as much as I thought I would.

What seems to scare people is curriculum. First of all there are tons of places to get curriculums, tons of methods, and tons of opinions about certain curriculums. Is it Christian? Is it Common core? Is it hands-0n? Is it full of worksheets?

The first thing you have to decide is how you want to teach your child. In order to do that, you have to decide the best environment your child learns. I’ve talked about this some in other posts, but I’ll go over it again. You have to decide if your child is going to do well sitting at a desk listening to you lecture and then do several worksheets or if your child needs to do crafts and science experiments daily to get the concept. Then you have to decide if you can comfortably stand up and “teach” or if you are more comfortable with hands-on work. Then you have to find that happy medium.

You can check out the different “methods” of homeschooling here. This is the best place to start because the “method” you choose to use determines how much money you spend, what type of curriculum you use, what types of supplies you need, and what your schedule will look like. Our family does a combination of school-at-home (or traditional), Charlotte Mason, and Unschooling. For us it depends on the day, the mood, and the subject we’re working on.

If you’re choosing Charlotte Mason or Unschooling, which are both child-led and very flexible, then you’re looking at a more relaxed schedule and less money because you can get most of your learning done outside on field trips or from books at the library or Google. If you choose school-at-home (or traditional) then you’re looking at spending a little bit more money on curriculum.

Another factor in how much you will spend is how involved you want to be in what is taught and the sequence in which it is taught. For us, I could have went online to Alpha and Omega Press and bought a complete Kindergarten curriculum for about $100. This curriculum would give me all the instructions I need to teach and all the worksheets and supplemental material for Josiah to learn. For us, this type of curriculum wasn’t what we wanted because I wanted a little more control over what was taught and how it was taught.

For our schooling, I have chosen to use books from the library and resources off the internet as my primary source of curriculum. I will also find cheap educational books or textbooks at yard sales or thrift stores that I can use to supplement what I teach. This is a very cheap route, but also a very hands-on and timely route as the parent/teacher. I have to research what is required for the school year and then I have to start from scratch and develop the curriculum. This will work for us probably until Josiah gets into middle school when things start to get a little more complicated, but I’m not sure yet. I don’t know what year we will start relying on boxed curriculums or online classes. I plan on DIYing it as long as I can though. My biggest cost at this point is ink. I have a regular inkjet printer so I spend about $30 a month on ink for school stuff. My plan is to buy a laser printer in the near future though. Although they are slightly more expensive (I’ve seen some at Staples for about $200) and the toner costs about $80, it lasts about 8,000 sheets. This will be more costly upfront, but more frugal in the long run.

Supplies is pretty easy for us. Pencils, paper, crayons…not too costly. Most of this stuff you’re buying on the school supply list  for the public school anyway, except you’re saving money by not buying a classroom supply of Lysol and Kleenex. I like using a dry erase board and sheet protectors and dry erase markers for a lot of stuff. This saves us on paper when we’re practicing something that I don’t feel the need to keep a copy of. I also find a lot of neat supplies at yard sales and thrift stores.

I try to spend a little bit here and there and at the Dollar Tree instead of buying things in large quantities because that’s when I’m likely to spend money that I don’t have. Once Josiah starts his 1st grade work I might start keeping track of what I spend on schooling just out of curiosity, but I do know that I haven’t spent much.

Where there is God’s will there is God’s way and if you believe that you are supposed to homeschool, a way will be made and money will be found.

I’ve listed them before, but here is a list of resources I use online:

  • Homeschoolmath.net/worksheets — This website has tons of free math worksheets for grades 1-6 and they also have worksheets based on topic.
  • Learningpage.com — This site has K-3 worksheets, animal-themed worksheets, and lesson plans help.
  • Worksheetworks.com — This site is one of my favorites so far! It has worksheets for Math, English, Geography, puzzles, graphic organizers and more. All the worksheets are customizable to fit what you need. It asks you a few questions about your preferences and then it spits out a professional looking worksheet without you having to make it up yourself.
  • Tlsbooks.com  — This site has printable worksheets for multiple grades and subjects.
  • Handwritingworksheets.com — This site allows you to create handwriting practice sheets. You can create practice sheets of names, words, sentences, and even paragraphs.
  • Teacherspayteachers.com — This is another one of my favorite sites. You can search through worksheets, games, lesson plans, posters, and other resources based on grade level, subject, and price. I’ve only looked at the free stuff, but there are things on there that you can pay for (you can choose free, under $5, under $10, or $10 and over). You have to register for this site, but registration is free and all of the content is downloaded as word documents or pdf’s for you to save and/or print.
  • And of course…there’s always Pinterest. I’ve gotten on here and found many of the websites above. I’ve also found the blogs of other homeschooling moms which is also very valuable.

 

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