On the one hand we can’t count the cost for homeschooling – the benefits to our children and to our family are eternal and yet we are called to be wise stewards so we must be accountable for the money that we do spend on this venture.
Homeschooling will have a financial cost to your family but you can manage that and not let it go over what is being responsible.
Lessons I have learnt about spending money on homeschool things:
- Know your reason, your goal for purchasing anything (from a long arm stapler to a full curriculum or course of study)
- Ask yourself some honest questions – When will this get used? Does it fit your current teaching/learning styles? Current routine? Current study load?
- Research your choices – not just the material you are keen about but the other options for that subject too. Look for free internet resources. Our purchase decisions need to be informed.
- Talk to other people about your goal, do they have experience? What are their thoughts on the said resource? Research their thoughts
- Rest – sit on it. Though sales are tempting they often force us to make quick decisions that we haven’t had time to research. Internet shopping is much the same – we tend to make quick decisions but the best advice is to sit on it.
Prioritising our Purchases
It is easy, when we start homeschooling to go shopping for all the things that we remember being in a classroom when we were a kid. I encourage you to hold off doing so until you know how your family is going to function as homeschoolers.
- Diary or Journal to record what your family does each day (when you record these activities you will learn to recognize the learning opportunities in your family life)
- PD books (Professional Development)Books on Homeschooling – It is important that you get your head around the lifestyle you have taken on, the opportunities, and the variety that is out there. You need to know what your vision is and what your goals are for your children. I encourage you to spend time learning about this and building family relationships rather than diving into an academic programme immediately. I must admit, this is a continual journey, where the Homeschool Mum is always learning and things always changing, but having some big picture things settled before diving into curriculum purchases is important. (Recommended reading list for new Homeschool Mums)
- Supplies Paper, pencils, ruler, sharpener, 3ring binders, page protectors, stapler, hole punch, paper clips
- Books – Buy living books, books that you can read aloud to your family and books your children will read themselves. Make sure you aren’t doubling up with what is freely available at the Library. Read this article from Ambleside Online for an understanding of What is a living book?
- Writing center paper, pencils, textas, (if young children this may look more like a art center)
- Family Board Games board games, table games, card games, outside games.
- Art box or Hobby materials
- Independent Activities Activities that children can do by themselves – puzzles, blocks, toysets (these are the types of things you already have in your family, or that extended family may give to your children as presents!)
- Nature Bag Nature journals, magnifying glass, field guides, drawing supplies
- Organisation Supplies Storage Boxes, bookcases, shelves. Start off organized. If you buy something make sure you have a home for it.
I encourage you to know what approach you are going to try first, what your goals are. Don’t be persuaded by impressive recommendations before you know these things. Choosing Curriculum: such as phonics,math, general knowledge resources
Ask other homeschoolers, especially those who share the same vision, ask them about curriculum before you purchase. We may as well glean from those who have gone before us, but remember your family dynamics is always going to be different from any other family.
- Computer/Printer – though I don’t believe a computer in the family is imperative to begin homeschooling I do believe computer technology is a part of our life and if we don’t introduce this to our children they will find it difficult to keep up to this aspect of our society. I don’t believe children should have their own computers but one in the family is going to be the way of the future.
- Chalk board / White board Though I resist the urge to look like a school room I have found the white board in our family room a great tool
- Office equipment such as photocopier, scanner, book binder etc – once again not an essential item
Internet: there are is a wealth of ideas on the internet that you don’t need to pay for. Many homeschoolers are using these free resources, and spend their own resources on good books.
- Lesson Plans – “Google” the phrase “lesson plans for …..insert your subject” and you will be amazed at the choices you will have. This does take a little time initially though you will begin to collect a short list of websites you find reliable and just refer straight to them.
- Information – we now refer to the internet for information and pictures that we may have once used non-fiction books on our bookshelf.
- Activities – you can be inspired with a huge variety of hands on tasks, art activities, and creative projects.
Being able to access this information and inspiration online does save us money since it isn’t necessary to always buy a book. The thing to be aware of when using the internet is the time spent searching, and the cost of downloading.
Recycled Materials – Depending on where you live you may be able to source recycled materials for construction and art purposes. For many years my children played with cardboard boxes collected from the grocery store and electrical appliance shop. Add to this a roll of masking tape and these boxes took on all sorts of creations. I have also asked a cabinet maker in town for his off-cuts for the boys to use. Friends will be more than happy to collect egg cartons, meat trays, bottle lids, cereal boxes etc.
Family Life – Cooking, cleaning, visiting, household projects – all of these family activities provide educational experiences. Subscribe to my Newsletter, Live life with your Kids! for regular ideas in seeing learning opportunity in everyday life.
Family Excursions – aka Field Trips. Use your family outings to enhance your children’s education – trips to the zoo, the post office, the bank, the airport, the art gallery, the neighbouring farm or cattle station (you will have your own set of opportunities, different from mine!)
Nature – The world all around you is an incredible resource. Go outside and look around to see what God has provided you with to teach your children.
Library – The library is a wonderful resource, not only for books to read but they can provide lessons on organization, categories, systems, research, technology. The library has also been a safe place for my children to learn to speak up for themselves, to be a “consumer” in a sense. Check to see if your library has a free Inter-library programme where they can borrow books from other libraries near by for you.
Service to the Community – When your family picks up a service in the community you will actually gain more than you spend (either in terms of money or time) plus the enrichment to your child’s education is immeasurable.
Friends – Though you don’t want to “use” your friends, like minded friends may well be able to instruct, mentor and encourage your children in any number of areas.
Homeschool Families – You maybe able to swap skills with another homeschool family – you teach cooking, they teach public speaking. Homeschool Groups and Co-ops can be a free resource for your family to participate in as well.