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Back to Homeschool: Homeschooling on a TIGHT Budget, Part 2

34 Last year, I posted Part 1 of this article. So, while you're planning your next school year, let me help take the stress off your budget!

I said it before and I'll say it again: we live in a stuff-oriented society. The glossy catalogs that come in the mail make us feel as though we need programs, kits, and piles of curriculum to make smart kids. It can be downright depressing when your financial life takes a big hit. I know; I've been there.  

But if you are committed to homeschooling, a small budget won’t deter you. This is why it's so important to have a goal and a purpose. If you remind yourself of the reasons you homeschool, a small bump in the road shouldn't throw you and the kids out of the bus. 

I mentioned in the previous post that I have homeschooled with almost NO budget. In 2002, I found myself divorced, a single mom of 2 girls, penniless and homeless. We moved into my parent's 2nd home and began a new life. Life was hard. My girls were 2 and 6. I had graduated from college with a business degree and could easily have been hired in a good position that would have supported us comfortably. But I wanted to be the one to raise my girls.
So, I started cleaning my home church. This was very part time, and only provided a small income. A few months later I got a part-time job doing medical transcription in the local hospital. I hired a babysitter to come to my home 20 hours a week while I went to work. This was not my ideal situation, but it was going okay.
Then one day I stopped in a local craft mall to pick up something, and there was a FOR SALE sign on the door. Cue angels singing. I loved crafts and knew I could manage a store! THIS was going to be our way out! I could buy the store, run it myself, and the girls could be there with me.
So, I did. Let me just say that while it was fun, it was also very stressful. I learned a LOT, including the fact that profits don't come easily and you need profits to survive. : ) Single motherhood was the most stressful time in my life, and business ownership didn't make it any easier.
Fast forward to 2004. I remarried. My husband had just been laid off from his long time job in the aviation industry. So we decided to run the craft mall together. Great plan! He knew nothing about crafts! But we kept trying to make it work for another 2 years. In 2007 we finally sold the business.
So, you can imagine that during this time my homeschooling budget was almost non-existent. But, my priority was to be the one in charge of my children's education. That meant that I had to find a way to teach them anyway.

Sometimes, our knee-jerk reaction is to say, "I can't homeschool because I can't afford it." Please, please, please, don't think that. "Where there's a will, there's a way." Don't automatically send them to school. Look for other options.
The public library became my best friend, and it can be yours, too. Just watch out for those overdue fines (wink). The internet is your second BFF. Google away!
Using these two free resources, you can:
Create your own unit study
  1. Choose any topic that you or the kids might like.
  2. Check out the age-appropriate books on that topic.
  3. Incorporate Language Arts with reading on the subject, writing a paragraph or summary of a book, copywork from a book, and check spelling and grammar as they go along. See Ruth Beechick's books for more examples of this.
  4. Go to a museum or on a field trip related to your topic.
  5. Dress up in costumes, and even do a skit for Dad or the neighbors. Look up recipes that might be related.
  6. Follow rabbit trails. A study on the human body might lead to talks about dental health and a visit to the dentist. A study of Pioneers might lead to talks about living without electricity, preserving food, gardening, hunting, sewing, etc. The possibilities are literally endless!
Unit studies are a great way to involve all of your children, no matter how many you have or what ages they are. THIS is a huge money saver.

Create a workbook
  1. Google free worksheets on any topic.
  2. Make a binder with wipe-off page protectors to use repeatedly.
Read books online

  1. Many Kindle books are free from Amazon, and can be used without an actual Kindle.
  2. Project Gutenberg is a free resource for online books. FREE.
Look for free curriculum sources online
  1. Easy Peasy is a free, all inclusive curriculum with everything you need available right on the website. The author’s hope is that families will continue to Homeschool no matter what their circumstances.
  2. Ambleside Online is a free online curriculum designed around the Charlotte Mason method. The curriculum uses as many free online texts as possible. 
  3. How to Homeschool for Free is a wonderful website. This link takes you to a list of full-curriculum sources that are completely free. 
  4. Hillsdale College has some great free history/government courses online, including video lecture, reading materials, quizzes, etc. Perfect for high school students. 
  5. Here is a Pinterest Board with free online curriculum links.
  6. Homeschool Share is one of my favorite sites for free printables, lapbooks, and unit studies.
Other frugal ideas:

I cannot stress the importance of reading good books to and with your children. There is a world of information out there on any topic if you just look.

Have you read about how Laura Ingalls Wilder went from learning to read to teaching school in just 7 years? Read my other blog to get the whole story.

God gave these kids to you and He trusts you to do the job. Doing it differently than the public school won’t mess your kids up! Trust your instincts!

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