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March 23, 2010

Low-Cost Homeschooling

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — kate @ 6:24 pm

With the economy the way it is, low-cost homeschooling really takes on a whole different meaning than it used to. I’ve noticed homeschooling groups in my area holding swap meets to trade different curriculum with each other, I’ve heard mother’s talking about the great deals they’ve found on Ebay and I wanted to share with you some of the ways we help cut costs when homeschooling.

With Children outgrowing learning materials as readily as they do clothing and shoes, you’ll often find homeschooling groups swapping or selling resources at bargain basement prices. A bonus of this approach is that you can get a review of the product directly from someone who has used it. Remember, something that works well for one child doesn’t necessarily work well for the next, so hearing from someone with experience can stop you from purchasing something that might become your home’s newest dust collector.

If you don’t have a support group nearby, don’t despair. Similar previously used homeschooling materials are available through the Internet at sites set up specifically to meet the need for low cost materials. You can search the web for additional sources, but here are a few to get you started:

http://www.clevermoms.com

http://www.homeschool-curriculum.com

http://www.rsts.net/home/recycler/

http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/

http://www.theswap.com

Materials are also always popping up on eBay where the auction set-up can result in incredible bargains. Just go to www.eBay.com and conduct a search on a few key words. Check often, as what isn’t there today could show up tomorrow.

Keep both school and non-school resources in mind and head out for neighborhood yard sales. Yes, you can often pick up books for nickels and dimes, but also other educational treasures can be had for similar price tags.

Take home that old alarm clock, wind it up, remove the back, and watch how the gears work. Pick up that ten cent rain gauge and let it become the center of weather related learning. That box of seashells (that the garage sale proprietor would probably throw in for free) offers hours for a sorting and classifying activity.

Children can write literary masterpieces on old typewriters, build a fort with lumber scraps, and turn an old window or door screen into a sifter for a backyard archaeological dig.

Find local Musuems, Planetariums, Aquariums…

Join! (Many educational organizations offer family memberships for a fee.) – Check into local museums of all types, historic sites, planetariums, aquariums, science centers and more. While at first glance the fee may seem expensive, say $60 – $75 per year, before you dismiss it, you should ask for a schedule and assess how frequently you and your children would be likely to visit. You may find that if you divide the total cost between enough programs, exhibits, visiting lecturers, and other educational opportunities that each visit emerges as a great bargain.

While you may be fortunate enough to be surrounded by many choices, join just one or two each year. The membership costs of more than two can easily add up. You’re also more likely to take advantage of more offerings at a single venue if you don’t have an overflowing plate to choose from.

With schedule in hand, you’ll know what the organization will offer. It’s easy to plan our own studies around the topics. You can use the field trip to the organization’s facility as anything from an introduction to a specific topic to the grand finale of studies almost completed.

Bartering

Here’s yet another opportunity to get creative to save some money. Many homeschooling families have saved countless dollars through bartering, the old fashioned exchange of services. You or your child can provide a few evening meals each week for an elderly neighbor who then teaches your child how to garden, knit, or share stories as a veteran of past wars.

An artist neighbor might be willing to nourish your child’s creative talents in exchange for a few hours of babysitting. Or an arrangement might be as simple as a share of your garden produce or your delectable strawberry jam in exchange for foreign language lessons.

Before you approach someone with a talent or information to share, discuss with your child what both of you would be willing to do in return. Then put forth your proposition. The worst anyone can do is say “no, thank you,” but odds are in your favor that someone will welcome the opportunity to share what s/he knows to receive your bartered wares in exchange.

Not only can home education be cheap, there are many benefits to accepting the challenge to keep down the cost for your family. When you’re on the lookout for educational opportunities, you will begin to look at the world differently, discovering that you’re surrounded by opportunity daily.

This awareness helps you and your family appreciate the world as your ultimate classroom. Thinking about alternatives for expensive materials exercises your imagination and creativity, which makes them grow stronger. These traits will serve you-and your child-well throughout your homeschooling experience, and save you lots of money at the same time.

Never stop learning,


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