With resources available right in your own community, you can homeschool on any budget.
New homeschoolers often wonder about the cost of homeschooling. The truth is, homeschooling can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it. Sure, you can buy everything from lab equipment to specialty math programs, or you can also rely solely on your library card and countless free and inexpensive resources for your homeschool program.
If you know how to capture a learning moment and model the requisite enthusiasm and interest in learning, your results will be the same: your children will learn! So why not be a responsible education consumer and enjoy the resources already at your fingertips?
Here are just a few of the great resources available right in your own backyard, or at most, a short drive from it:
Libraries & Book Sales
Your local library should be your first stop on the road to free and low-cost learning opportunities that include, in addition to books, great music, and film resources Go online and check out your county’s library system website to learn about the locations of area libraries, upcoming events, and all their great online services. If you don’t have internet access, the library also provides that at no cost. Most libraries also have their own used book stores now, where you can find great books for a song.
The library is also a great place to learn about what’s going on in the community – and all for the cost of a library card…which is free!
Instructional materials sales and giveaways: Often free or at greatly reduced prices, local schoolbook depositories typically dispose of surplus and outdated materials annually.
Used Bookstores and discount warehouses: Find your local used book store and open an account. Instead of cluttering your house with underused books, trade them in at the bookstore and get continuing credits towards new books. And, of course, there’s an online treasure trove of discount booksellers, from Half.com to Hamiltonbook.com.
Reuse Centers can be a little tricky to find, but they’re becoming more common and are a bargain hunter’s heaven, as well as a real treat for “green” shoppers who prefer to reuse items rather than buy new. Look in your phone book or check with your local school board, or check out the Reuse Development Organization directory of partners nationwide. Freecycle is another great source of materials, all free.
Museums and Parks
Discounted admission to local museums are often available during off-hours, or if you enter an hour or so before closing. There are a number of great local museums and historical sites that are always free or operate on small donations. Ask at your local library for lists of museums and historical sites and contact them to find out what great learning deals are available for you. You can also often get educator discounts to art and science museums, where a wealth of learning awaits.
State and local park offerings are a great deal. Many include interpretive programs in their entrance fees. You can visit many great recreational areas for a dollar or two per carload. Better yet, volunteer at one, and find additional enrichment opportunities that way.
Colleges and Youth Programs
Local colleges and universities often have lectures, programs, and events that are free or very low cost and provide a wealth of learning opportunities. Many colleges also often offer free tutoring services, courtesy of undergraduate students.
Youth development programs, like 4H, Campfire Boys and Girls, Explorers, and the up and coming Earth Scouts, can also help fill in gaps on a budget.
And don’t overlook the benefits of a good homeschool support group for group discounts on field trips and cooperative learning opportunities.