I began homeschooling at a time in our family when we could not afford to purchase curriculum in order to do the job. So, in my discussion of Homeschool Budgeting, I am going to give different financial levels to describe the task.
1) Homeschooling on next to no funds:
With next to no funds, I began my homeschool curriculum journey by doing the following:
- Networking with friends and homeschoolers, getting advice, borrowing when possible.
- Learning from various resources what I needed to teach for the grade my child was in.
- Attending local used curriculum fair, and purchasing a few things if I could afford it.
- Going to the library and checking out materials to use.
I began when my daughter was in Kindergarten. Guidelines change, but my goals were to teach her numbers, letters, shapes and colors. We got through those goals very quickly. While we worked on that during the day, I studied at night to learn how to teach my daughter to read.
Using a book I got from the library, The Writing Road to Reading, I learned what to do. I bought 3" X 5" cards and a sharpie and made phoneme flash cards. Using this library book I taught my daughter to read.
After the initial no funds Kindergarten we managed to set aside a little money each year for curriculum.
2) Homeschooling on a Small Budget:
With a small amount set aside, I purchased a small amount of curriculum at our local home school support group's used curriculum fair. I found an all-in-one first grade curriculum, Ann Ward's First Grade Learning at Home. I wasn't real pleased with its Math program, but found a somewhat inexpensive Math curriculum for First Grade from Modern Curriculum Press. I saw fun, expensive Math manipulatives that I couldn't afford, so I didn't buy them. Instead, as we drank milk I saved the bottle caps, and they were our counters.
The main curriculum required some additional books, such as Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphries. I found it at the library. If I "needed" something the library didn't have I either borrowed it from someone else, substituted another title, or skipped it. I supplemented with read-alouds from good books. I usually had one book my girls enjoyed, and they got to "have" a chapter after they listened to a chapter from a science or history book they were less interested in.
3) Homeschooling on a Larger Budget:
As we continued homeschooling (we've homeschooled 25 years), my husband's income gradually grew, and we were able to budget a larger amount for our homeschool. We considered our path carefully and invested in Tapestry of Grace, one Year Plan each year. We built a long-term library around the reading lists in the four Year Plans of Tapestry. We also were able to purchase NEW Science materials. We were always buying for our oldest student, and having the second student use the same material three years later. We networked with friends, shared teaching in co-op settings, and again used the library extensively.
4) Homeschooling with Free Stuff!:
My favorite "budget" has been homeschooling while a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I receive free stuff, use it for four to six weeks, and write a review about it! I've received Math, Science, History, Literature, Grammar, Bible and character studies, foreign language studies, Art, Music and Physical Education materials. I have received planners. I have even received soap, moisturizer, lip balm, natural pain reliever emu oil lotion, and emu oil. It has been so fun, but can be challenging. I'm a planner, but can't know in advance what I will have to use, so I buy some stuff but then get other stuff free.
I love being on Crew!
Now my "baby" is in 11th Grade, so I am in a different season. I no longer need materials for K-10th Grade. So, as I am able to I sell materials I am done with. I find buyers online. As I sell materials, the income goes toward materials for 11th and 12th grade, or to be set aside for college. We are definitely in "down-size" mode. It is a different season. Now the decision on curriculum is more of:
- chuck it;
- donate it;
- sell it; or
- save it for my adult daughter.
Space is always a consideration. It is time for school materials to take up less space in our home. It's been a good journey, but I'm looking forward to seeing my last student, my son, graduate from home school in a couple of years.
I'm looking forward to spending my hours and my dollars on quilting!