Notice, I didn't say "homeschooling on a budget." Most of us have a budget; but there are some that have a very tight budget.
So, it depends on what a tight budget means
to you. For some, that means you have one child and must spend only $400 this
year on their curriculum. For others, it means finding ways to school your 6
children on $100 total. OUCH!
Well, I’ve been so broke that I didn’t have more than
$20-$30 to spend in a whole year for 2 kids. And guess what? They are now about to be 16 and 12 and can read, write, and do sums. Well, actually, they can do more than
that, but you get the point.
The first thing you need to realize is that it’s not a
curriculum that makes your kids smart. It’s the ability God gave them to learn.
And if they have that built-in, they can learn from any materials put in front
of them. Second, remember that as parents, you love and care for your children more than the best teacher on earth. YOU have what it takes!
So, armed with that useful bit of information, let’s think
about what you have at your fingertips:
If you have
preschoolers, well . . . you need little more than some good picture
books, blocks, fingers and toes, crayons, pencils, paper, a Bible, and a
The picture books can come from any local library, or even
your church’s library. Read a book with your child, talk about the subject
matter, draw some pictures WITH your child about the subject matter, and look
up anything that interests him. If it’s about sharks, talk about their teeth,
or the ocean, or ships, or anything related that catches their interest. If
it’s about Squanto, talk about Indians, pilgrims, America, corn, hunting, etc.
Read the Bible and pick out easy verses to memorize. Make a
chart with some paper and markers to show the child’s memorization progress.
Little kids are like sponges; they can memorize and are proud to do it. Talk
about the heroes of the Bible. Talk about God’s power and love and teach your
child to pray.
Build block towers and talk about colors, shapes, measuring,
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I have lots of ideas
on my blog for preschoolers! You can also search online for “preschool
activities” and find more information than you could use in a lifetime.
If you have
elementary school students, you need a little more to work with, but it
still doesn’t have to be a fancy curriculum. Again, the public library is one
of your best sources. Create a unit study on any topic from history, cooking,
science, math, art, crafts, etc. and check out all the books you can on the
topic. Get some to read to your kids and some for them to read aloud or to
themselves. Pull out topics they can write short paragraphs about. Check their
spelling and grammar after they write, correct it, and have them do a final
copy. If you’re not too great with the spelling and grammar, get a library book
with all the rules. Take a field trip or visit a museum. Dress up in costume.
Make a new recipe. Watch a historical movie. Have the children give an oral
report. Follow the rabbit trails. It will be fun, and as your kids are
learning, you’ll be making memories as well.
During one of our particularly challenging financial times,
I checked out a library book with simple science experiments. It was easy to
understand (and I am NOT strong in science) and it explained the results of
each experiment. We did a new experiment each day and discussed what the books
said. It was so much fun, and my kids thought they were getting a great science
If you’re concerned about math at this age, go to the
internet, my friend. There is a wealth of free help online, including free
printable worksheets, online games, and parental helps. Even if you don’t have
a computer, you can do this at the local library. You can use the computers,
print, and sometimes, let the kids play educational games. Just do a search for
whatever you want, and you will find it.
I also taught my oldest child her U.S. geography and state
capitals for free using online resources. We found online games and quizzes
that she played each day, and I made my own flashcards for the state capitals.
She practiced those daily and in no time she had learned it all!
You can read about how I taught my 2nd child to
read with practically nothing here.
As your kids get
older, it may seem harder, but if you are committed to homeschooling, trust
God and let Him provide. You can do a co-op with another family. Borrow books
from other homeschooling families. Trade books. Check used book sales. Teach
them what you know. Ask a close friend or family member to tutor your child in
what you don’t know. Check out educational videos at the library or Netflix.
Join a local co-op and try to schedule your kids in subjects that are hard for
them to get at home.
Although you may have your dream curriculum in mind, it might not be available to you during
this season. Be open to what’s available and use it. Have fun with it. I bought
a used copy of Learning Language Arts Through Literature because it was only $3
one time. It wasn’t my first choice, but we used it and my daughter really
Make a list of the subjects you need, and then be on the
lookout for how to fill that need in a very thrifty way.
We live in a very stuff-oriented society. So we think we
need lotsa-stuff to teach our kids. But in reality, you can provide a few
really good books and teach them how
to learn, and they will take off.
Finally, don’t fall into the fear of grade levels. Grade
levels are set up for public schools to teach many kids in an efficient manner.
They are meant to make sure that everyone is learning the same thing, and so
that parents feel secure that the kids are being taught. In your homeschool
(depending on where you live, of course) it’s not about grade levels. It’s
about learning. Period. So if your child doesn’t learn cursive until he’s 10,
or doesn’t learn to read until he’s 12, it’s really okay. They WILL learn.
Here are a few last suggestions for pinching pennies and for
getting school material creatively:
Sign up for Swagbucks
and get Amazon products for FREE. I use my Swagbucks for all kinds of
things on Amazon, including books. Well, mostly ALL books! It’s a free
search engine that pays you to search and the rewards are real. I know of
another blogger with EIGHT children who purchases lots of her curriculum
your pennies. Literally. I have a jar that I throw all my change in after
purchases. When it’s full, I cash it in. This is my curriculum jar.
Whatever the amount is, I put it toward new books.
get a tax refund each year, budget some of that for your books. Plan
ahead, find good deals, set a budget, and stick to it.
the discount stores, like WalMart and Target for inexpensive learning
materials. I actually found some really fun Barbie and Pooh workbooks for
my younger kids at Dollar Tree for $1 each, and they loved them. Flash
cards, writing practice, mazes, etc. are all easy to find at these stores.
Visit Book Samaritan online. They
are a non-profit organization that helps homeschool families in need. I
can vouch for these folks, because I was on the receiving end of their
help a few years back. You simply tell them what books you would like to
use, and they try to meet the need. No charge. It’s a great organization!
In my humble opinion, YOU, the parent are the best teacher
your kids could ever have. All you need is a willing heart and a courageous
attitude and you will find a way to teach your children through the rough
times. Usually, the tight budget season doesn’t last forever, and when it’s
over, you can begin to add to your school budget again.