How to Homeschool: The Ultimate Guide.

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how to homeschool

Bottom line:

It’s hard enough figuring out how to homeschool, but homeschooling affordably is much harder.

In some ways, homeschooling might cost more than public school, but it’s wayyy cheaper than private schools.

So how do you start homeschooling?

And more importantly …

How do you keep it on the cheaper side?

I thought you’d never ask.

This guide will show you everything you need to know about how to home school and offer affordable substitutions.

This post will be using the true case study of Racheal, a stay-at-home mom, with two homeschooled children.

First I will show you the steps needed to get started with homeschooling.

Then, squeeze in some “affordable” opportunities along the way.

Sounds good? Let’s dive right in ...


Table of Content

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Making the Decision: Weighing The Pros and the Cons

Before you can start,

Know this:

All homeschooling families have been right where you are.  Homeschooling is a huge decision. It’s your child’s education at stake, and that happens to be a huge part of their lives. You have to figure out if homeschooling is right for your family. It doesn’t have to be right for just your kids.

Think about your entire family.

Does it work for you and your spouse?

Making a list of the pros and cons of homeschooling helps you make the decision. Don’t just take our list; make it YOURS! Each family has unique pros and cons.

To Homeschool - "The Pros"

1) Education is Tailored to Your Child

Teaching a classroom full of kids is challenging. We have to give mad props to teachers. Some classrooms in school districts can have upwards of 25 to 30 kids with one teacher. 

Your homeschool is unique because you can tailor the education for each of your kids. Every person has a different learning style, and teachers aren’t able to meet each style for every lesson.

Your child might be an auditory learner and need to hear the lessons. Some kids are kinetic learners, and they need hands-on challenges and learning opportunities. 

Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to meet your child’s unique learning style, improving their retention rate. Learning comes easier when you tailor it to your child.

2) You Can Pursue Unique Interests

Is your son obsessed with dinosaurs? Awesome! You can take your child to multiple museums (field trips!) and possibly find an archaeologist to speak to about his experiences. You can read books upon books about dinosaurs, put together mock dinosaur skeletons, and study their diet.

The learning opportunity for each of your child’s interests is endless. You can pursue your child’s unique interests, making them want to learn. Encouraging the love of learning creates lifelong learners! 

3) Every Day is Flexible 

Most homeschooling families don’t follow the average 8 AM to 3 PM schedule. Learning at home takes much less time, leaving your day open for other interests. Kids get ample time outside to play, and mom has time to follow her interests.

You can take vacations whenever you want. Families can take days off for field trips, or decide that the weather is so nice today they need a picnic. Just plug in the activities planned for Saturday morning instead. Easy!

4) You Have Ample Family Time

Not every family works the normal 8 AM to 5 PM schedule. Some work days at a time or work from sunup to sundown, leaving little time for the kids.

Parents nowadays face these challenges, and homeschooling is a way to ensure your family has enough family time. It gives you a way to squeeze in every ounce of family time as possible. Don’t discount family togetherness. It’s important for a child’s development, especially family meals!

Or Not To Homeschool - "The Cons"

1) Homeschooling Takes Time

The biggest factor to consider is - do you have time to homeschool? Be honest with yourself. Look at your schedule and see if you have a few hours each day available. You may have to count out other planned, regular commitments.

Families with two working parents may struggle to find the time. Finding the time is a huge challenge for many parents.

2) It Cost Money

Even at the bare minimum: Curriculum costs money. You don’t have to sell your organs on the black market to afford to homeschool, but you do need to purchase books and other learning materials. Do you have the budget to be able to do so? 

3) You Must Seek Socialization 

One of the biggest arguments about homeschooling is lack of socialization. Homeschooled kids ARE socialized, but parents need to seek out those opportunities. Parents need to connect with local groups to find meetups and planned activities.

You have to change what you consider socialization. Socializing is NOT just hanging out with a group of kids all the same age for five days a week. Socialization is having fun with other kids, no matter their age. You could be learning together or playing soccer. Do you want to take the time to find these opportunities for your children?

4) Family Might Not Be Supportive

It’s not uncommon that friends and family may not support your decision to homeschool. That might be frustrating and hurtful. You could be rude comments and have to be able to withstand things that people may say to you. 

Seeking out groups that give you support will be crucial! Your spouse should be on the same page as well.

Stay Legal When Homeschooling Or - Pay the Price

Once you decide that you want to homeschool your kids, you have to figure out how to homeschool legally in your state.

Imagine:

Buying, planning, and teaching your child, only to find out at the end that you’ve been teaching them all the wrong stuff!

Lot’s of time and money - wasted.

Yes, I know;

That was a highly exaggerated example - but - hey, it can happen!

Better to be legal right from the “get - go”

The truth is - every area is different

That’s so frustrating! The government leaves education up to the states, so that means each country or state has a different law

Parents are required to follow the laws of the state which you are physically present. Even if you’re present temporarily, you’re subjected to that state’s laws and the jurisdiction of its courts. This is true even if your legal residence is in another state and you are living elsewhere temporarily.

So, if you plan to live in another state for longer than a month during the time when public schools are in session, you need to comply with the requirements for home education in that state.

Suggestion: DO Your Homework First

Every homeschooling parent needs to check out this HSLDA State Law Map - trust us! The HSLDA provides parents with an interactive map, showing each state’s laws and the degree of their regulation. 

Then count the cost before you proceed.

How To Homeschool Legally? The Steps ...

Every state is different, so remember that. Most do have similar requirements. Responsible Homeschooling shows a list of policies for each state, such as parent requirements. 

Let’s take a look at Ohio. Your state may be just like these steps or slightly different.

1) Report to Your Local School District

First, you need to let your local school district know that you’re homeschooling. For most states, this is important because it stops the school districts from marking your child truant. 

For example, in Ohio, parents are required to give notice to the school district for any child who is six years old or older by the first day of school that year. For kids born in August and September, that can be a bit tricky! 

For example, if your child is born on July 19th and school starts August 18th, you are required to give notice since your son is now six years old. However, if your son is born on September 10th, you are NOT required to notify because your son is still five years old. 

In this notice, you’ll list all of the subjects you will teach and the resources used to do so.

2) Homeschool for the Year

After you notify your district, you’ll receive an acceptance letter back that they have received your notice and all required information.

Now, you’re good to go! It’s time to homeschool for your year and have a blast with your children!

3) Portfolio or Testing - That’s the Question

Towards the end of your school year, it’s time to decide if you want to have your child take a standardized test or have a certified teacher look over a portfolio. A portfolio contains evidence - such as writing samples and math lessons - that your child is learning to his or her ability. 

No option is right or wrong. It’s whatever feels best for your child. The goal is to show your child has improved and learned throughout the year. 

  • If you decide to take a standardized test, you can see if your local homeschool group offers local, group testing. Many do! If not, websites like Homeschool Testing Services offers online and at-home options. You also can find testing locations throughout the US.
  • If you decide to make a portfolio, any certified teacher is allowed to check over them. Ask your local homeschool group if they have recommendations, or ask any teacher you know if they cab help you out.

4) Notice of Intent to Homeschool - The Second Year

Now, you’re done with school for the summer. It’s time for fun in the sun and summer vacation. As school time grows closer, you’re going to send in another notice of intent to homeschool - as you will do every year until your child graduates.

The only difference this year is you will send in a certified letter from the assessor of your child’s portfolio OR the results of your child’s standardized testing.

That’s it! It’s time to start school again!

Resources to Help You Learn How to Homeschool Legally

If you’re feeling nervous, check out these resources. They’ll answer all of your questions.

  • https://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/policy-issues/current-policy/
  • https://hslda.org/content/laws/
  • https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/homeschool
  • https://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/policy-issues/current-policy/parent-qualifications/
  • https://hslda.org/content/earlyyears/Testing.asp

For Canadians:

  • https://ontariohomeschool.org/about-homeschooling/homeschooling-faq/
  • https://schoolhouseteachers.com/start-here-canada/

For U.K. Residents:

  • https://www.gov.uk/home-education
  • https://www.home-education.org.uk/faq-carers.htm

Defining Your Homeschooling Style

You’re probably thinking - what is a homeschooling style?

Figuring out your homeschooling style helps you decide what your homeschool should look like. It helps you see what your days will look like. 

It’s a good idea for you to read about the different styles. No one is typically 100% on any given style. Some may lean towards one style or the other during different seasons. Here are the basics about each one. 

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a 19th century British educator who encouraged learning through nature study, art, music, living books, and free afternoons for children to explore. Kids make natural connections about the world around them.

School-at-Home aka Traditional Homeschooling

This style looks like a public school classroom. It relies heavily on textbooks. You may or may not have a dedicated classroom, with desks, a whiteboard, and a schedule. There are grades and tests.

Classical

The classical style uses three stages of learning: grammar (grades 1 to 4), dialectic (Grades 5 to 8), and rhetoric (Grades 9 to 12). Each stage builds upon the previous. You follow a four-year cyclical study or history and science.

Unschooling 

Unschooling is often called child-led or interest-led schooling. It looks the least like traditional school. Kids can learn what they’re interested in learning, and kids direct their own learning with parents as the facilitators.

Eclectic 

As you might guess from the name, eclectic homeschoolers pick and choose what they want from a variety of sources. You pick what works best for your family, including mixing the previous homeschooling styles together.

Picking the Right Style for You - And Your Pocket

Homeschool On has a fun quiz for you to take to see what style works for your family. 

No style is more expensive or more affordable than the other. You can always find ways to save money or spend a ton of money no matter the style you pick! 

Imagine what you want your day to look like, and think about your kids. Some kids LOVE structure, and others are go-with-the-flow type people.

Do you want to spend the day reading books with your kids and exploring nature? Or, do you want your children to be self-directed and learn what they want to learn? 

Ask yourself some questions to help you decide your homeschooling method.

  • Do I want my kids to learn through workbooks or reading aloud through living books?
  • Do I need a structure or am I able to go-with-the-flow and help my kids learn independently?
  • How long do I want school to be each day?
  • Are grades and testing important to me, or do I prefer to “grade” my kids in other ways?
  • Do I want to direct my child’s learning, or do I want them to direct me? 

For more information on homeschooling styles, take a look at these resources we picked out for you.

  • https://thebestschools.org/magazine/homeschool-style-right/
  • https://pambarnhill.com/guide-to-homeschool-methods/
  • https://homeschoolbase.com/homeschooling-methods/

Tools Every Homeschooler Needs

You do have to purchase some items to start homeschooling. Don’t feel obligated to purchase everything right away. Many items can wait, and you can accumulate them over a period of time

These items don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Most are budget-friendly, but don’t be afraid to spend a bit more on items that will last for years. When learning how to homeschool, quality is important, especially if you plan to homeschool for many years with multiple kids. 

Here are some tools that every homeschooler needs.

  • Pencil Sharpener and Pencils

Obviously, you need pencils! Some like pens, but I stick with pencils, especially for younger kids. I’m a huge fan of Ticonderoga Pencils. They’re a bit pricier than other ones, but they also don’t break as easily. 

As for a pencil sharpener, some moms like electric ones. They’re faster, but I stick with a manual one that’s on my basement steps. X-Acto Ranger is a durable brand.

  • Spiral Bound Notebook

You’ll want at least a few notebooks, so your child can write journal prompts or practice writing their alphabet. Every parent has their own preference for notebooks. Most just buy the cheapest ones at the store. Save money by not purchasing brand names - it doesn’t make a difference.

  • Printer

The best printer for your homeschool is whatever works for your computer the best. I found out the hard way that many chromebooks don’t link up to printers easily. HP and Canon are two popular brands to check out, and you’ll want plenty of all-purpose printing paper.

  • Laminator

A laminator isn’t a necessity, but most homeschooling parents love theirs. A great splurge is the Scotch PRO Thermal Laminator. It’s one of the best brands, and it’ll last for years. You can use laminators to make worksheets reusable for other kids or laminating word cards so that they don’t get ruined. That’s how I make mine last through multiple kids! 

  • Dry Erase Board and Markers

You can get one big dry erase board or an individual one for each child. Any brand will do! However, I recommend using Expo Dry Erase Markers. They don’t leave stains like the cheap brands do.

  • Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are so handy, whether its coloring maps or diagramming sentences. We use ours daily! Our favorite colored pencils are Prismacolors. They’re a bit of a splurge, but the quality is unbeatable. We love the bright colors!

  • 3 Hole Punch

Another nice item to have is a 3-hole punch so you can save items in binders throughout the year. Some parents like the cheap punches that store in binders, and others like self-standing 3-hole punches like the Swingline Precision. It’s durable and affordable!

  • Stapler

You can save money by purchasing whatever stapler you want and any size. I don’t find I use staplers all the time, so it’s not something I make a huge investment. They’re nice to have and cheap!

  • Book Rings 

I can’t lie; I love book rings! They’re awesome for keeping word cards in order or making flip books for kids. I purchase the School Smart brand because they’re thick and have yet to break.

  • A Planner 

Some parents don’t use a planner and just use a notebooks. Others use their computer. It’s an individual decision. If you want a physical homeschool planner, the Well-Planned Family Homeschool Planner is one of the best on the market. It’s meant for homeschooling families and gives ample room for scheduling and details.

  • Art Supplies 

Last, ( if your child is a toddler) you’ll want some art supplies on hand like scissors, crayons, glue, paint, and paint brushes. It’s nice to accumulate a supply so that you don’t have to run to the store every time you want to do a different project.

Creating A Homeschool Curriculum

The homeschool curriculum you select is going to be the basis of each day and is the crux of your child’s education. So, creating your homeschool curriculum plan is a big deal! Luckily, you don’t have to piece it together by yourself. Many companies have full curriculum programs put together for you to use. 

Let’s get started! 

First Steps - Planning Your Yearly Goals 

Before you do anything else, you need to come up with a plan for what subjects your child will cover this year. Every state has requirements that you cover certain subjects, such as:

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Physical Education
  • Health

You can take a look at your state’s education website to make sure you meet requirements. To find yours, use Google and search for “ Your State Education Standard.” Plug your state into that keyword and it’ll pop up! For example, here is Ohio’s education website where you can find the standards

However, beyond that, it’s up to you and your child what you want to cover as well as what levels you put your child in.

For example, you can decide you really want to cover the Middle Ages, while other peers are covering the Revolutionary War. No law dictates what you have to cover specifically. You can decide you want to study astronomy rather than biology. 

If you’re a parent to an older child in high school and has a desired career path, take some time to research the requirements for potential colleges and universities that he may wish to attend. You want to ensure he meets all of the requirements! 

An example would be if your child wants to pursue a degree in the medical field. He will need a strong background in biology to do so. It would be wise to make sure you spend ample time studying biology, as well as anatomy and physiology. 

Don’t be afraid to add some subjects that your child really loves or spend more time studying those subjects! Your son may be obsessed with dinosaurs - aren’t all 6 years old? You can spent time reading about different species, visiting museums, and doing pretend digs for dinosaur bones. 

You can see a general plan for Racheal's child here:

Decide on Full Program of Pieced Together

Next, you have to decide if you want to purchase a full program that’s already put together or if you want to put it together yourself.

What is a Full Program?

A full program is a curriculum that is put together by a company that emcompasses ALL required subject areas. There will not be any subjects missing from these programs. The company plans out each day what you will do with your days. You can find programs in almost all homeschooling styles besides unschooling because they don’t follow curriculums typically.

Here is a picture of the My Father’s World Kindergarten schedule ( A Christian Homeschool Program) looks for one week.

As you can see, each subject is displayed with the tasks for the day. Then, on separate pages, there are more details for parents. You can download samples for any grade level that you want to use for most programs.

Some moms love the full programs because they do the work for you. If you continue to follow their curriculums, you won’t find gaps in your child’s education. Everything is covered without you worrying. 

However, you have to follow their plan, and you may find that your personality doesn’t like that. Full programs can be expensive, but look for a program with a lot of non-consumable items. That means less workbooks and more books because you can use it with future children.

Piecing Together Subject Curriculums 

Piecing together programs can seem complicated, but here is how you do it.

  • Look for a curriculum in each subject. For example, you need a math curriculum, so you can look at options such as Math-U-See, RightStart Math, Saxon Math, or Teaching Textbooks. Each subject has dozens of choices, so you might find yourself searching for a long time.
  • Find the level you need. Once you decide on each curriculum for each subject, look at the levels you need. Most websites offer placement testing or advice to help you decide where to put your child. Don’t assume grade levels match up with the curriculum levels. Always look at placement levels. 
  • Most curriculums offer 12 levels that equate to the 12 levels of public school, plus preschool and kindergarten which are not legally required in most states.
  • The reason why levels don’t line up with grade levels is because they may cover skills and lessons not covered in those grades in public school. The levels are simply how the company has progressed their program and divided it into different books.
  • For example, it can be that your daughter uses the 4th level for her mathematics program, but she is in 3rd grade. The level matches HER skill level.
  • At the same time, she can use Level 2 for her language arts because  previous programs did NOT cover everything in her new curriculum, so starting at Level 2 to ensure she didn’t miss anything is important. 

That’s it! It’s pretty easy, but it’s not done for you, which is why so many families do like full programs. A few choices for full programs include:

  • Book Shark
  • Sonlight
  • My Father’s World
  • Horizons Homeschool
  • Oak Meadow 

Homeschool Resources

In learning how to homeschool, if you need more choices or don’t want to search for years for curriculum options, here are some homeschool resources to make it easier!

  • https://www.homeschool.com/blog/2018/02/check-out-the-results-from-your-votes-top-100/
  • https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-101/choose-best-homeschool-curriculum/
  • https://www.learningliftoff.com/20-best-homeschooling-websites-and-learning-resources/

A Step by Step Guide To Putting Together A Homeschool Curriculum

Still confused? Don’t be. I want to show you how I put together my children’s curriculum each year. It only takes me a short period of time. Here are my steps.

Look at Education Standards

Using the example of Ohio I would:

First, I take a look at Ohio’s education standards. You don’t have to follow these closely or at all, but for new homeschoolers, it’ll give you an idea about what you should cover each year. Looking at the standards helps me ensure I don’t miss something. Each state has their own standards set on their education website.

Make My Goals For Each Child

Now that I know the standards, I make goals for each child, which you do by looking at the standards for each grade level for your child, or you can just go with the plan set by the full-program. Full programs cover all of the necessary subjects and goals without you needing to do so.

You saw above my general goals for one of my children. You can set more detailed goals, which I do later as well. However, to start off with, make some general goals for the big subjects you want to cover.

For example, multiplication is a big goal for my daughter this year. We set this goal because it is next in line based on the curriculum we follow. Also, based on standards, we add other goals.  We are also working on counting money and learning how to measure diameter. Those are secondary goals right now. 

Pick Subject Curriculums

Then, I decide what curriculums I want to use for each child. Some curriculums I stick with each year because I used the previous year. I know that I don’t have any gaps if I continue to use the same brand’s curriculums. This year, my daughter’s curriculums are as follows:

  • Math U See - Gamma (Gamma is their 4th level of math curriculum)
  • Language Arts - The Good & The Beautiful Level 2
  • Spelling - All About Spelling Level 2
  • Handwriting - Simply Charlotte Mason Cursive
  • History - The Good & The Beautiful History 1
  • Science - The Good & The Beautiful: Astronomy
  • French - The Easy French Junior

As I mentioned earlier, we use different levels to make sure our children are learning everything and not creating “holes”, so to speak, in their education. An example of a hole would be a child not learning how to identify adjectives.

It’s important to remember that MOST homeschoolers don’t go by grades at all. Grades are what you would place your child in public school - so 1st, 2nd, 5th, etc. Instead, parents put their child at the right level for each subject based on that child’s ability.

Age has nothing to do with your child’s ability to do a specific subject. Some 9 years olds can multiply, and others might need to wait until they’re 11 years old.

That is why you NEED to use placement tests or information on each individual curriculum you select. It’s also important to remember that many homeschool curriculums are more comprehensive than public school curriculums.

For example, I used the language arts placement information on The Good & The Beautiful’s website to determine what level was appropriate for my daughter.

Make A Plan For The Year or Month

Once I get the curriculums in the mail, I can sit down and plan out how many lessons I want to cover each week. You can plan the entire year out, by month, or by week. That’s up to you.

There is no right or wrong choice! Unless you select online curriculum (which is a choice you can make), you receive all of the books in the mail after you order them.

Most homeschoolers pick the route to have everything delivered to their home.

Does Homeschooling Have To Be Expensive?

The answer is NO! You can make homeschooling as expensive or as cheap as you want. Each family has to set a budget that they feel comfortable spending. Then, you work within that budget. The HSLDA states that each family typically spends $300 to $600 per year per child to homeschool, but there are plenty of ways to save money. 

You might notice that full programs are quite pricey - ranging from $500 to $800 per level. However, many of these programs can be used for multiple children, either at the same time or in the future. If you have four children (as I do), and I invest in an $800 curriculum that I can use for all four children, it really only costs me $200 per child per year.

Let’s look here at Sonlight’s 2nd Grade Curriculum. You see the total price here of $707 - WOW! However, look at the age range - 7 to 9. That means I can use this curriculum for two of my kids at the same time and simply add the right level math and language arts for the second, younger child.

If you divide this cost in half, it’s cheaper! 

Also, remember, you can shop pre-used groups, wait for sales, or wait for when they come out with an updated version. If a curriculum comes out with a new program, they sell their old one for a discounted price, and they usually don’t change too much!

We talk more about saving money here - check it out!

Planning and Organization

Parents, be ready to release your inner geek. Planning your homeschool academy is FUN! It’s one of the favorite things for homeschool moms

There are a few ways you can plan and organize your year

  • You can plan the entire year out in advance, including breaks, field trips, and projects. This requires a few days of sitting down and planning your year out.
  • You can break it down by groups of weeks. Some families use a schedule that is six weeks on, one week off. Parents use that one week off to plan the next six weeks.
  • You can plan a month at a time or even a week at a time.
  • You can back plan, which means you can list everything you already did. This is great for the non-planning type people. 

Just like with so many other homeschooling things, there is no right and wrong. According to Racheal she's tried them all, and most other homeschooling moms will tell you the same thing. You really don’t know what you like until you try it. 

To give you an idea of what Racheal's weekly plans look like. Each week planning begins on Sunday for the upcoming week. This method works for Rachel because she can takes whatever was not finished the last week - if anything - and roll it over. She the looks at the upcoming events each week, such as practices or parent’s work schedule that changes weekly, and decide what we can accomplish.

An Example of My Weekly Plans

Before we take a look at the weekly plans, Rachel made the following points:

  • All of the lessons are 15 to 20 minutes per subject area. Charlotte Mason recommends short lessons for young children. 15 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, but 15 minutes of direct teaching one-on-one for each subject is more than what public school children get each day.
  • The curriculums tell you what to do, but they don’t make you follow a daily schedule.
  • Simply follow the lessons in the book. So, when you see 15A under math, 15A is the next lesson in her math book. Lesson 26 or Step 13 are all names of lessons in each of the individual curriculums we used. If a page number is noted, that is the page in the book used for reading or handwriting.
  • Plans are short and sweet. You don’t have to do super-detailed! 

Here are some photos to help show you what the table of contents looks like.

What you see here is our history program. The first page into the second is the first reading you’ll see listed, as well as the audio. This curriculum tells me what to do. I research on my own time to find YouTube videos and extra books to read.

Above, you can see examples of two table of contents. The first (on the left) is for my son’s reading program. Each lesson takes about a week to complete. On the right is my daughter’s spelling curriculum. Each step takes 1-2 weeks to complete with appropriate practice.

Then, the last picture shows you some spelling words for the step 13.

See! That isn’t as bad as you might think. It will look different if you plan for longer stretches, and you have to know that all plans MUST be flexible. Life happens. Sicknesses will hit your family and things out of your control that throw off your plan.

What About Weekly Testing?

Whether or not you test is up to you. We do math tests because they come with the curriculum, but no state requires parents to provide results of weekly testing. You can use whatever method you want to make sure that your child is retaining knowledge. 

Instead of testing, we have discussions together. We talk about what we learned and what they remember. Every other week, I play a jeopardy game with them to review key facts. 

You don’t have to test unless you want to test. Rachel's family opts not to test, but you surely can!

Homeschooling Affordably - Tips and Tricks

Figuring out how to homeschool affordably is a huge goal for most families. With two kids homeschooled and two more coming up, Rachel has to pay attention to the budget. 

There are so many ways to save money while homeschooling. As more and more parents homeschool, you find more free resources out there on how to homeschool on the cheap. We love those!

Here are some of my favorite ways how to homeschool affordably.

1. Buy used curriculum

Before I purchase new curriculum, I always spend time looking for it used. Facebook has buy, sell, trade groups for almost every curriculum brand imaginable. Taking the time to search for a week or two for the right used option saves me hundreds.

These are two of choices. To find these groups, search on Facebook for “homeschool buy sell trade” or “ ‘curriculum you use’ buy sell trade.

2. Utilize your library often

Your library is a FREE - unless you’re unlucky and always have late fees - resource that you need to use. Instead of buying the readers to go with your curriculum, rent them! In a small home, only buying the books that kids loved the most from each curriculum is a great idea.

Libraries also are starting to offer eBooks. A library allows each card to have 20 eBooks per month that kids can download right to their eReaders. Score!

3. Plan to Reuse for Siblings

If I love it, I keep it for the siblings come up. That way, I don’t have to rebuy it again. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but let’s look at our math program. Each costs around $35 to $40. I love to have those. If I had to buy 12 of those for each kid, it would cost me $1,920. Instead, I buy one set and keep them, for a total of $480. 

A teacher’s manual comes with any curriculum. It is the parent - aka teacher - book that the student does NOT use. These manuals have instructions for the lessons, tips and tricks, and more information for the parent.

You see here the instruction pack - also known as the teacher’s manual - for Math-U-See Gamma level (which is what my daughter uses). I don’t want to buy this book and DVD 4 times! I want to buy it one time and save it for all of my kids.

4. Use Non-consumables More

I prefer to use curriculums with more non-consumables in them. Non-consumable items are things that can be used more than once. For example, a workbook that your child writes in is consumable. It cannot be used by more than one child. 

That means I want more books and things that aren’t used once and done. That means I can reuse them for future siblings! Plus, then we can read the books over and over again.

5. Don't Change Curriculums All the Time

If it works, don’t fix it. Don’t start to curriculum hunt late at night. If you love your math program, don’t decide to randomly try something else. Stick with it until it doesn’t work anymore.

6. Sell What You Don't Love

Sometimes, you’ll try something and it won’t work for your family. That’s a bummer, but you need to sell it now. You can recoup some of the cost and it won’t take up valuable space on your bookshelves.

7. Look For Resources Online

As homeschooling becomes more popular, more and more resources are coming available for kids. Money Crashers lists different free and cheap homeschooling resources for parents to try.

8. Buy School Supplies When Public Schools Are Going Back

When public school goes back, school supplies are on mega-sale. Now is the time to plan to stock up. Look for huge cases of art supplies! Homeschool curriculums often go on sale between March and August. If you have your eye on something, sign up for their emails so that you can be notified if a sale occurs.

9. Pair Subjects Together

If you noticed, I pair my kids together in science, history, and french, along with other programs and subjects. Having to purchase only one of those curriculums saves us money. Otherwise, we would need two social studies, two science programs, etc. We do math and language arts based on age and level.

10. Look For Cheap or Free Field Trips

We love field trips, but they can be pricey. There’s got to be a way to have your “cheap” cake and eat it too- right? There is. You can always purchase memberships to museums if you want to go often. Most museums also offer members only events and services. 

Check out your local state parks. We have a state park nearby that puts on educational programs for kids for free! We do guided nature walks with them. See if nearby museums have free days. Take advantage of those!

Examples of Curriculums on Different Budgets

Let’s look at how you could piece together curriculums on different budgets. We’re going to look at three different budget scenarios to see what you can get for your money.

Remember, these items are going to be new because the used market is impossible to guess the costs you will find. The costs included will be the current listed cost on the websites.

For these examples, we’re going to cover key required subjects for a 3rd grader. We aren’t going to add anything extra, such as foreign language or poem memorization.

Curriculum Examples on a $200 Budget

What can you compile together for a 3rd grader with only $200 to spend? Let’s take a look!

  • Mathematics: At this price range (and really any price range), we LOVE Math Mammoth. They do offer PDF versions and the ability to purchase all of the grades in PDF to be able to use with all of your kids. For this example, we picked the printed grade 3 books, answer keys, and tests. - $48.80
  • Language Arts: For language arts, we would use The Good & The Beautiful Level 3. The printed version is $72, BUT you can purchase the PDF version and print from home for FREE! Yes, seriously, for free! So, for the purpose of this example, we are using the PDF version and the only costs would be ink and paper. Let’s add in $15 to help with the cost of the paper and ink.
  • Handwriting: For handwriting, we would use Handwriting Without Tears Grade 3 Cursive.- $15.09
  • Social Studies: We would use The Story of the World Volume 1 Ancient Civilizations (there are 3 other levels that cover different periods of history). Purchase the story book and the activity book for a total of $39.22.
  • Science: For science, we would use The Good & The Beautiful - Astronomy. There are other options in the same price range if your child doesn’t want to study astronomy. Since we had extra in the budget, we picked the printed version along with the optional readers! - $36.98

The grand total is $155.09. You’ll obviously have some taxes and shipping added in based on the state you live. However, you will have some left over, which I would use to purchase some ability appropriate readers to go along with the history curriculum.

Curriculum on a budget of $400

Now, let’s see what we can get for a 3rd grader with $400 total to spend!

  • Mathematics: With a higher budget, we would opt to splurge on math because a solid foundation in math is important. We would use Math U See Gamma, which is their 3rd grade level. Make sure you take their placement test though! . Since this is your first time using Math U See, you need to purchase their block set but you only need to purchase this ONE time for all of your kids and all the levels. - $159
  • Language Arts: We would still go with The Good & The Beautiful Level 3 because its comprehensive and overall a fantastic curriculum. For the sake of the budget, we are just including the $15 for ink and paper to print the FREE PDF, but you could purchase the $79 set! 

Also, we are adding in the two readers for $30 since we have the higher budget!

  • Handwriting: We would still pick Handwriting Without Tears Grade 3 even with a higher budget. It’s a great choice! - $15.09
  • Social Studies: For social studies, we would pick The Good & The Beautiful Year 1. It’s a comprehensive program and includes a fun game for kids to play it. My kids love it! Since we have extra in the budget, we will purchase the book set too for read alouds. The curriculum is $77.97, and the book set is $32.99.
  • Science: At this price point, we love Real Science 4 Kids and decided upon their elementary Astronomy bundle. The bundle has everything you’ll need and costs $67.

The grand total is $397.05. This cost doesn’t include taxes and shipping, so you may go over the $400. However, you could cut off the book set from either the history or language arts to avoid that.

Curriculum Examples on a $600 Budget

Finally, $600 is our higher budget set for our scenario. Let’s see what we can get for our $600! 

  • Mathematics: So, we are going to stick with Math U See Gamma for $159. It’s a great program!
  • Language Arts: At this level, we decided to change course and use programs from All About Learning. You’ll need reading and spelling because they aren’t combined. We opted for the All About Reading Level 3 (take the placement test) plus their interactive kit for a total of $141.80.
  • Then, add in All About Spelling Level 2 for $39.95. You don’t need the interactive kit because you just grabbed it for the reading level!
  • Handwriting: Even though we have quite the budget here, we would go with Handwriting Without Tears Grade 3 for $15.09.
  • Social Studies: I would opt to splurge in the social studies area for this budget range. We picked Around the World with Picture Books by Beautiful Feet Books. The cost is $189, and it’s entirely reusable because it’s all books to read with your kids!
  • Science: For science, we would go for the Apologia Superset Astronomy. It includes the textbook, one junior activity book, and a CD to accompany the program for a total of $85. 

    The grand total is $589. You’ll have tax and shipping as well to consider. 

    As you notice, we are able to fulfill all subject areas no matter the budget given! Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend doesn’t mean you can’t provide your child with an appropriate education.

    Online Homeschooling Resources

    Homeschoolers spend A LOT of time researching, whether you’re looking for new activities to try for science or reviewing curriculums. Using resources is part of the deal!

    Free Online Homeschool Resources

    Here are some resources other for you to check out! 

    These websites either give information on a variety of ages or provide you with help tips and tricks how to homeschool in general. 

    • HLSDA.org
    • https://cathyduffyreviews.com/
    • https://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/
    • https://www.homeschoolshare.com/
    • http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/my-printables/
    • https://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/

    How to Homeschool Your Young Child

    • https://www.homeschool.com/advisors/dobson/
    • http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/homeschooling/homeschooling-tips-for-getting-started/
    • https://hslda.org/content/earlyyears/default.asp
    • http://more.starfall.com/?t=250025616&y=1 - Use to teach your child how to read! 
    • https://www.arcademics.com/ - Fun, free games for elementary aged kids! 

    How to Homeschool Your Middle Schooler

    • https://happyhomeschoolnest.com/blog/homeschooling-middle-school-ultimate-guide
    • https://hslda.org/content/earlyyears/MSIntro.asp
    • https://www.time4learning.com/homeschool/middle_6_8.html
    • http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1668 - Help with vocabulary for your middle schooler

    How to Homeschool Your High Schooler

    • https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/blog/4-steps-start-homeschooling-high-school/
    • https://www.time4learning.com/homeschool/high_school.shtml
    • https://hslda.org/content/highschool/youcan.asp
    • https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/ - Lesson plans and information provided by NASA for kids in grades 7 to 12.

    How to Homeschool a Gifted Child

    • https://specialneedshomeschooling.com/
    • https://www.the74million.org/article/nunes-the-pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling-a-child-with-special-needs-and-some-resources-that-can-help/
    • https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/home-schooling/the-pros-and-cons-of-homeschooling

    More Online Christian Homeschool Resources

    • https://www.homeschoolacademy.com/bridgeway-difference/who-we-serve/christian-homeschool-curriculum/
    • https://www.learningbygrace.org/

    Christ-Centred: Advice for Bringing Jesus into Your Homeschool

    Many families homeschool because they want to incorporate their faith in Jesus into their child’s education. Unless you purchase a Christian curriculum, you may find that challenging at times.

    Racheal's family struggled to finding the right balance. Over the years, she decided learn a few tips on how to homeschool with Jesus at the centre.

    Some families opt to purchase full curriculums that are Christ-Centered and already planned for them. There are several options available, but a few popular Christian homeschool curriculums include:

    Read the Bible Daily

    This might seem obvious, but make sure you read the Bible to your children each day. Do it before you start anything else because it should be the focus for your family. 

    You can just read the Bible straight through, or you can try family devotional that offers talking points and discussions for kids.

    Use Bible Copywork

    My children use a handwriting curriculum half of the time. The other portion of the week they copy down Bible verses. I typically pick psalms or proverbs for them to copy, but it can also go with a theme for the week or season. 

    Copywork is very simple. All you do is have your child copy down something in writing. So, for example, pick your favorite poem and your child rewrites that poem in a notebook with his best handwriting. You can read more about copywork from the Unlikely Homeschool.

    For example, as Easter nears, our verses align with the resurrection of Jesus. Advent, the weeks before Christmas, verses always have something to do with Jesus and His birth.

    Bible Memorization

    Kids benefit from having to memorize Bible verses. They can use these in hard times as they get older, and memorization strengthens the brain. Pick a Bible verse every week or every two weeks. Some kids take longer to memorize things.

    Learn Biblical History

    Try to use a history curriculum that incorporates Bible history. A few great choices are The Good & The Beautiful (all levels) and Mystery of History. While you’re learning about Egypt and Mesopotamia, it’s a great time to learn about Abraham and Isaac. 

    We love learning about what else was happening in the world during the same time that parts of the Bible were taking place.

    Try Christian Based Science

    Always be cautious when you pick a science curriculum. You don’t want a curriculum that is based on evolution! It’s always best to try to find a Christian based science curriculum. We want to point our kids to the wonders created by God! 

    A few Christian-based science curriculums include:

    You can also always pre-made bible studies, such as the Grapevine Studies. Most importantly, make it a priority to incorporate Jesus into your homeschool!

    Looking for more inspiration

    Check out these awesome Christian homeschooling websites and see what other homeschooling families are doing! 

    • https://hearttohearthomeschooling.com/category/simplify-homeschooling/
    • https://www.inspirethemom.com/
    • https://www.intentionalhomeschooling.com/blog/
    • https://www.lifeabundantlyblog.com/education-at-home/
    • https://biblebasedhomeschooling.com/
    • https://kristiclover.com/

    Homeschooling is a Family Journey

    Homeschooling is a journey that you take with your family. There are good and bad times, hard weeks and amazing weeks. It’s part of the journey, but you can do this. 

    Connecting with your child is one of the keys to making homeschooling successful. Find out what sets their heart of fire. Strive to find ways to make your child love learning. Children who love to learn stay interested easier and won’t fight you when you tell them it’s time to sit down for school. 

    For Christians, take heart. God called you to homeschool and He will see you through this adventure with your children. Our children are blessings that are called to lead to Christ. Focus on God and your homeschool will follow in the ways it should go.

    We hope that you have enjoyed our ultimate guide on how to homeschool with some affordable options. Most importantly, I want to impress upon you to not let your budget deter you from homeschooling your children. As you saw in the examples I set earlier, you can homeschool no matter how much or how little money you have to spend.

    Do you want to share your wisdom on how to homeschool? Feel free to drop us a comment or email!

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