When we decided that I was going to homeschool our kids, we didn’t even consider how expensive it might be. Once we looked into purchasing a curriculum, however, we quickly discovered just how costly many of the books are. Since I taught Pre-K for several years before having my own children, I was fortunate enough to have lots of material that I could use for ages 2-4.
But by the time my daughter was four, I was on the lookout for Kindergarten and First Grade materials. I scoured the internet for used materials that were cheap, or even free. I have to say that I’ve been very blessed to have been able to find a whole lot of stuff for very little cost. I’ve been able to create my own curriculum using the books that I have, along with several other great resources.
If you are looking for some inexpensive and even free teaching materials I would suggest that you check out these resources and follow these tips.
Start by Estimating Your Budget
Before you even get started with homeschooling, try to figure out exactly how much money you are going to need. This will give you a ballpark idea of which subjects you absolutely must teach and which ones you can do without.
At the very least, you’re going to have to spend at least $50 per student. On the higher end, you could spend more than $500 per student. Keep your family’s current needs and budget in mind as you figure out the best route for homeschooling.
Keep Things Simple
When you are homeschooling, it can be tempting to run out and buy everything on the shelves. Don’t do it! The great thing about homeschooling is that you don’t need a ton of supplies. You can keep it super simple and only buy exactly what you need.
At a bare minimum, you just need a computer, printer, desk space, and maybe a laminator. That’s for you, teacher! For older kids, you’ll need things like notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, files, a stapler, and a calculator. That’s it – I swear! Start with the basics and if you find you need something later, you can always go out and grab it.
Plus, one of the advantages of shopping for homeschooling supplies is that you can buy after the schools have already gone back. You’ll save a lot of money since you don’t need to buy at the same busy time as everyone else. Ask local stores for discounts – some stores offer teacher discounts, and as a homeschool instructor, you might qualify for those same ones.
Keep Your Eye on Craigslist
Look every day, several times a day. I’ve found lots of stuff for free (or very cheap) on here; good teaching materials, even Christian books.
Check Out Your Local Christian Bookstore
I know several around here that buy good quality, used homeschool books and sell them cheap.
Look on eBay
Most of the time the bids get higher than I want to pay, but if your only other option is buying new, this may be a good place to watch.
Keep an open mind. If the book is a little written in, consider whiting it out, or erasing the marks to make copies out of it.
There are lots of educational books out there that aren’t necessarily part of a course; you can use a great variety of resources to create your own curriculum. I’ve found several good text books at yard sales.
Other places you can check include thrift stores, flea markets, and consignment sales.
There may be somebody close to you who has some old books that they would be more than happy to let you have. Just get the word out that you are looking.
This is a free service (all you pay is postage, which isn’t much). I noticed they do carry homeschool books under categories: Parenting & Families >> Education; Nonfiction >> Education >> Homeschooling
Thanks Crystal, for recommending this site for free books!
Walmart and Dollar Stores
I’ve found lots of good workbooks, flash cards, and educational games at these places, for very little money.
I have also found some good websites that have some really useful printable resources. Here is a list of the ones I’ve found so far that I like:
Thoughtco.com: has a wonderful section all about homeschooling. This particular section that I’ve linked to helps you to know what your child should be learning in their grade level. It covers grades Pre-K thru 4th (so far) with a great list of each topic that should be covered for their age and provides links to worksheets and games having to do with that subject. This is a great resource!
They also have an awesome list of printable worksheets for Holidays, Seasons, Math, Geography, and tons more!
Mrsperkins.com: printables for use with first graders, including a list of “Dulch Words” also called “Sight Words”. This list covers all words your first grader should know and be able to read. There is also a list of testing forms to make sure your child is on target.
Families.com: this blog has tons of info on homeschooling, you just have to search through the categories to find some really great ideas.
A to Z Teacher Stuff: A full list of printable lesson plans for preschool thru 12th grade covering every subject. Some of the lessons are geared towards a group setting, but you can easily modify it to teach one child. Some great ideas.
Super Teacher Worksheets: I especially love using their spelling list activities. This is a great resource for tons of worksheets.
First School: has some good writing paper printables for preschool and kindergarten. They also have tons of great preschool worksheets.
Great Schools: Everything you need to know to prepare for the next grade; including lots of activities.
Teachers Pay Teachers: This website is really designed more for regular classroom teachers, but there are all kinds of resources here for homeschooled kids, too. Some of the resources cost money, but there are quite a few that are free or really inexpensive.
Online subscription sites: These sites aren’t free, but for a monthly subscription fee you can get access to tons of educational resources. EnchantedLearning.com is one example. This website offers more than 30,000 pages of materials for students at all grade levels. Other options include Khan Academy, Lesson Pathways, and Crash Courses.
Another great, FREE resource that we can never get enough of is the public library. There you can find tons of great books on every subject that you are studying. You’ll find resources besides books at the library, too. Your local library likely has everything from CDs to DVDs to magazines and even musical instruments.
If you live on a homestead, chances are that you already have plenty of opportunities to teach your kids right at home. However, planning outings is a great way to give lesson plans some context in a fun, engaging way.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money, either, or deviate much from your normal routine. Just turn every experience into a learning opportunity! For example, a trip to the grocery store can quickly turn into a lesson on how to read food labels and make a grocery budget.
If you are studying the ocean in science class, head to the beach. There are so many options for hands-on learning – you just need to know where to find them.
And if you want to go on a more formal outing, just think of cheaper ways to do so. For example, you can pay a visit to the aquarium or museum – you just need to know the best times to visit. Look out for free days or get an annual membership to save yourself some money.
Hang On to Curriculum Resources and Gear
Don’t feel the need to buy separate curriculums for each grad level. You can often combine grade level resources from year to year, which is handy if you are homeschooling multiple little ones. Also, hang on to old textbooks if there’s a big age gap between your kids. You’ll want to reuse them later on!
Save a Bit Each Paycheck
Try to save a small amount of money each week to go toward homeschooling. That way, you won’t have to pay for everything up front.
Join Homeschooling Groups
In most areas, there are lots of different homeschooling groups you can join. These are run by either professionals or by volunteers. You may have to pay a fee to join, but it’s a great way to get your kids socializing and to learn more about homeschooling.
You could also create a co-op class with other homeschoolers in your area. This will let your kids get together and learn as a group and also take some of the burden off you when having to teach all of the subjects. You don’t nee da large group, either – just start a small co-op to save some money and keep each other on track.
Research Tax Credits
There are all kinds of tax credits to homeschooling families, depending on the state in which you live. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t currently provide any tax credits to families. However, states like Iowa, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Indiana, and Minnesota all offer breaks.
Reading is essential for you, as you’re learning about how to homeschool, as well as for your child when he or she is in the throes of homeschooling instruction. Often, the first year can be the hardest for parents who are homeschooling – but there are lots of books you can read that will shorten that learning curve.
Consider reading books about homeschooling, or subscribe to homeschooling magazines like Homeschooling Today, The Old Schoolhouse, or Home School Life. They’ll give you all kinds of tip son how to be an effective teacher, as well as how you can save money.
Check Your Local Community Resources
Look around to see what kinds of education centers and community colleges in your area are offering free classes. Sometimes, these are designed for adults, but often, there are classes that your kids can take like photography, drawing, computer programming, and more.
One last money saving tip for homeschoolers: recycle!
Recycle anything and everything you can. You would be surprised to learn how much gear you have at home that can help you control your homeschooling budget. Be on the lookout for ways you can recycle things you already have lying around your home.
For example, if you print a one-sided worksheet, you can use the other side to do handwriting exercises. You can save bits of newspaper for art projects or water bottles for cool science projects.
Use plastic sheet protectors over the worksheets, and have the child write on them with a dry erase marker. Just cut one side of the protector so that it can easily slide over pages in a book.
This way you will be able to use the book without marking in it, and without having to make copies out of it. Then you can pass it down to the next child to use, or resell it “like new”!
If you know of any other tips or resources, PLEASE share them with us! I’ll be adding to this list as I find more useful sites that I like.
updated 06/22/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.