Frugal Homeschool Start-Up
by Teresa Higginbotham
It seems when a family embarks on the adventure of homeschooling the first tell-tale sign are the homeschool curriculum catalogs on the coffee table and all the homeschool vendors bookmarked on the computer. This is where it gets fun, but if you're not careful it can also get very expensive. Here are a few ways many homeschooling family create a quality curriculum for their children and stay within a budget.
- Use the library! O.k., you're looking through the catalogs and see a long list of great historical novels your children can be reading along with their history studies. I found a wonderful description of The Tree in the Trail and decided that one was for us. Instead of paying the amount in the catalog, I went to our public library and checked it out. The catalog was right--it was wonderful except that we read it for free!
- Buy your curriculum used! Yes you can. There are several ways to do this. If you belong to a support group you may find curriculum sales within that group or at the homeschooling convention in your state. I went to ours last year and bought so many books that I had to drag my bag all the way out to the parking lot. I probably bought 80% of our school year's materials (for two kids) and walked away spending only $125. If I had bought these materials first hand I would have paid probably around $500 for all of it.
- Those three little words: Clearance/Sale/Overstock! Shop the sales and bargains. Where do you buy school supplies? If you said the drug store or super market you're paying too much. Find the local dollar store in your town and be amazed. Many times a store like this will carry notebook paper, writing tablets, construction paper, glue, pens, pencils...you name it. Why pay more when you can just pay a dollar!
- Find it for Free! My kids have probably watched five to ten great videos in the last year and I never paid a cent for them. What kind of topics? Fire safety, electrical safety, food bacteria, aquatic animals and others. Many corporations put these videos out and give them away for free. One of the best places to find these are at Video Placement Worldwide . You can also check the large assortment of freebies pages on the internet and look for "Teacher Freebies".
Every week I plan on Wednesdays and go online and put holds on books, videos, and audio tapes. By Saturday or Sunday my pile of educational goodies is usually all waiting for me behind the checkout desk so I just drop by and pick it up! You can also usually find lists of award winning books and if you have a children's librarian she can help you find lists of grade level books.
You can also buy used curriculum off of curriculum boards. The best one I've found is Homeschool Classifieds at http://homeschoolclassifieds.com. You can post an ad there in 30 seconds and there are so many ads (over 1400 at this writing) that you can find just about anything. There is also the Curriculum Swap at http://theswap.comwhich is another posting board. It is probably the next biggest and has plenty of variety. Whenever I'm looking at curriculum boards I tend to look for organizational features like a search button. I am usually not looking to browse but for specific items. I also usually need to hurry because supper's boiling over and I have allotted myself exactly three minutes to find a certain textbook. (The life of a homeschool mom-uncensored)
If you frequent internet vendors then look for phrases like "Web Specials" and "Internet Specials". Many of the sites will feature one book a month to keep their internet customers ordering. Another good place to check are the large toy store sites. Most of these sites have a giant clearance during the summer months and you can find microscopes, telescopes, science kits, arts and crafts, books and videos for up to 50% off. This is timed perfectly if you're planning for a new school year. If you know your child has to study magnets this year you can buy magnet kit for $19.95 in April or maybe just $9.95 on sale in July. Take your choice!
You can also find listing for books, stickers, lesson plans, posters and much, much more. If you go over to PBS (www.pbs.org) you'll find lesson plans to correlate with Arthur and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The more you look the more you'll find sites for kids to play games and learn.
Now you're ready with some oldtimer wisdom under your belt. You can homeschool and for less than you thought!
Teresa Higginbotham writes articles about frugal living as Tightwad Tess.
Also In This Week's Issue
- Money skills key to child's future
- 6 steps to a successful money talk with your spouse
- 5 creative ways to wrap gift cards
- Thrifty stocking stuffers
- Should your kid take a part-time job?
- 6 secrets to saving more at discount stores
- Healthy family breakfasts
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