I thought a good follow-up to yesterday’s post would be more ideas about how to keep costs low when homeschooling this year. In addition to the ideas I suggested yesterday, here are some others you might consider.


The saying, “It is better to give than to receive,” holds a lot of truth as far as home educators are concerned. Every community has countless needs for volunteer services, and homeschooling families have discovered that by giving, they receive more than they could have imagined.

The rewards of volunteerism are plentiful, when you realize that your child can learn from everyone s/he meets. While volunteers aren’t paid, they often perform the same work as their paid counterparts. This provides priceless experience, available nowhere else, to children and young adults who will learn much from the experience. Volunteerism also teaches the need, and creates the desire, to give back to the community–a habit much needed in today’s world.

If you’re unsure of where your community needs volunteer efforts, just keep an eye on your local paper. Watch for activity announcements such as Meals on Wheels, adult literacy programs, soup kitchens, medical associations, church, neighborhood organization, etc.

Even places like your public library and local nature center rely on the donation of volunteer hours. Think about signing up right along with your child, especially if s/he is under fourteen years of age (many organizations will have a problem with an unsupervised child less than fourteen-years-old, but will gladly welcome him/her if you are there as a chaperon).

Without a doubt, volunteering is a gift that keeps on giving for both the recipient and the provider of services.


Apprenticeships are volunteering-with a twist. Typically, there is no pay for services rendered, but the volunteer/apprentice learns a useful skill under the instruction of a knowledgeable individual.

Apprenticeships usually focus on the transfer of vocational abilities. A professional devotes time helping the youth-apprentice learn business skills. Not only does the youth build talents s/he will possess for a lifetime, but s/he also gets a taste of a trade or profession s/he’s interested in to help him/her make future life career decisions.

The professional doesn’t charge money for his expertise. Instead, the apprentice performs “real” work in exchange for new-found skills. The arrangement with the apprenticeship provider may be an informal or formal one, but for everyone’s peace of mind it should be in writing so there are no misunderstandings.

A simple document should set forth the total length of the apprenticeship. Most homeschoolers recommend a trial run of four to six weeks. If things go well, it can always be extended. All parties should agree to hours per day, days per week, and briefly outline what they intend to provide to each other.

All parties to the agreement, including you as parent, should sign and keep a copy. Once again, by thinking outside the box, the possibilities of apprenticeships are endless, and a great way to keep down the cost of the learning process.

Do You Need Textbooks and Curriculum?

Purchasing just a few full-price textbooks could eat up $200 in a hurry, as could most prepared curricula. The good news is that you don’t need to spend money at that rate to provide a superior home education. Your public library, computer, and home contain information on any topic you could possibly need or want to address in home study.

Most parents who hesitate to take this different route to learning are hesitant because they feel without a “map” they don’t know where they’re going. “Learning maps” are totally free!

They come in the form of curriculum, or may be called “scope and sequence.” A curriculum outlines what subjects/concepts/skills are to be covered in a specific grade; it maps out a course of study. A scope and sequence is similar to a rough outline of what children of a certain age are expected to know.

As it turns out, the choice of what gets studied when in traditional schools is quite arbitrary. In other words, it doesn’t matter all that much whether your child first studies nouns or verbs, or simple machines, or earth science.

As long as you have a map, or a general idea of where you’d like home study to take your child, you can use free or low cost information sources to get there. Here is a source of curricula lists to get you started:

For many more curriculum maps, type “homeschool scope and sequence” into Google and you’ll see everything you need.

Replacing Textbooks with Common Household Items:

Let’s take a look around your home for learning materials that help teach arithmetic concepts that are either free, or that you can make or buy inexpensively.

First, children love playing with money. You can use bills and coins, real or pretend, to teach:
* Money values
* Making change
* Interest
* Tithing/Offering
* Carrying and borrowing
* Decimals
* Percentages

Kitchen Materials: Every home contains food, from dry beans to assorted shaped macaroni, from asparagus spears to a bag of M&M’s.

You can use food to teach:
* Sorting
* Counting
* Graphing
* Patterns
* Subtraction
* Standard measurement and fractions through baking and cooking

Go Outside!

As in one of my previous posts about outdoor learning, who says you need to learn inside?! On a beautiful sunny morning, you can head outside and play:
* Hoppable number lines
* Parking lot multiplication
* Number hopscotch
* Feed the birds using fractions.
* Go on a hike and learn about different species
* The popular “Horse” basketball game with multiplication or division instead of letters.

With money being tight these days, it’s important to spend our money wisely. In homeschooling, there is no shortage of ideas when it comes to teaching our children. What are some things that you do to cut costs? I’ll post more ideas tomorrow.

Never stop learning,

Browse Categories