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I dropped my son off at his Family Daycare today. While he ran off to play (and I hung around gossiping) I admired the neatly arranged selection of resources his carer has selected for this term’s work. We got to chatting about which we liked and didn’t like, laughing at how some of us collect ALL THE BOOKS.
That’s the thing with homeschool. There is always so many fabulous books to buy, manipulatives to try and curriculum to lust over. Where do you spend your money? How do you not spend all of your money? It helps to find out what others have used and liked and go from there.
Which is exactly the theme of this week’s NOT Back to School Blog Hop. This week we homeschool mamas are chatting resources. I’ll share a look at some of my favourite picks for this year and give you a few tips for saving money. Homeschool definitely happens on a budget around here 😉
I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again, having a guiding philosophy really helps! Straightaway most of the open and go curriculum on the market (and there is A LOT) is crossed off the list. Having a philosophy also helps guide me to the teacher texts which are going to be most helpful to me. I plan the majority of our lessons myself (without a purchased curriculum) so the bulk of my homeschool budget goes towards books that help me grow my knowledge bank.
I include online lessons and purchased unit studies as teacher resources too. I use those to take care of areas I don’t feel adequate to teach or to take some of the planning strain for me in busy periods. Because…life.
The second place I spend money is on quality materials for my children to use. I want them to be able to create beautiful work that they can pour their heart and soul into. I want them to know that what they create has great value, worthy of decent paper and art supplies. And so each year I purchase the best materials I can afford, which suit the work we have in store.
I also need to remember to budget in activities. Our only paid activity at the moment in the Family Daycare program my son attends on Tuesdays. Last year we had various co-op fees to factor in as well, but this year’s Nature Studies co-op is FREE 😉 Nikolai isn’t currently attending any extra-curricular activities but if he chooses to do so later on these will need to be budgeted for as well. There are a lot of activities on offer in our area, so this is one part of the budget that can quickly be blown if I’m not mindful. Excursions need to be added in here too. We have quite a few planned. Luckily most can double as a family day out.
Finally, I spend money on books (stories and children’s reference books) to use during Main Lessons, and also maths manipulatives. This is actually the smallest part of my resource budget.
Each year I invest the bulk of my budget in my teacher resource library. These are the titles I have added in the last 12 months. Whilst I work with a yearly budget, in reality I spread my spending over the year to reduce any financial strain. I’ve also included programs where I am outsourcing lessons or using a pre-planned guide.
Primary Grammar Handbook (Australian Curriculum aligned)
ArtVenture (outsourcing many of my lessons to Kirsty)
Hobbit Family Learning Adventure Guide (CM/Waldorf-inspired unit study)
Bravewriter- Arrow (CM compatible literature guides)
Oak Meadow Grade Four Maths Curriculum (I plan to use this primarily as a teacher resource but it can be used open and go)
These are my general resources, most of which will be used across multiple years. In fact most of them will be used for multiple children across multiple years. My book bill seems a lot smaller when you put it that way!
In addition to my general resources I then collect resources for the individual lesson blocks. Because that adds up to quite a long list, I’ll devote individual posts to the blocks throughout the year. I’ve been asked a lot lately about the consumables we use as well, so I’m planning a post to show you those as well.
So how do I manage to not spend all the money???
Here’s my top 10 tips for saving money on homeschool resources.
- Have a budget and stick to it.
- Have a guiding philosophy so you only buy what you really need. Even if this isn’t your thing, make sure you plan before you buy. No matter how wonderful a book looks, don’t buy it if you aren’t sure you are going to use it.
- Use your library! Just make sure you return your books on time to avoid late fees. Those aren’t in my budget 😉
- Use free online resources such as waldorflibrary.org and waldorfteacherresources.com for free e-books and lesson ideas. For Charlotte Mason style resources I usually turn to amblesideonline.org. Mainlesson.com has many quality out of print books (available as e-books) which fit nicely with either educational approach.
- Check with friends to see if they have something you need and borrow it instead of buying it new. I have some friends who sell off all of their old resources to friends once or twice a year to help fund the next lot they plan to buy. I’ve saved a lot by snapping up things I know I’m going to need later.
- Buy secondhand. Look on Gumtree, Ebay, and Buy Sell Swap pages on Facebook.
- Check Book Depository regularly for sales. They also have free shipping worldwide.
- Join a homeschool curriculum buying co-op to receive bulk discounts
- Make your own. You can save a lot of money by using what you have on hand for maths manipulatives in particular. I also find it cheaper to DIY an individualised curriculum for my child rather than purchasing boxed curriculum. This might not be true for everyone though.
- Buy digital resources. A lot of the time digital is cheaper and even when it isn’t, it is because you don’t need to pay for shipping. This is especially true for those of us in Australia as most homeschool curriculum is made and sold from the USA.
If you’ve got any tips for saving money in your homeschool, please do share them in the comments below.
Don’t forget to stop by the other posts and see what other homeschool mums are using this year!
P.S. If you missed the first two posts in this series you can find them here: