The blogging challenge word for today is simply 10. So, I thought I would combine it with something I have been thinking about – ways we homeschool on the “cheap.” I use the word cheap loosely because people define it differently. Some people use that word saying things like “I only spend $600 per child each year.” For me, it is more like “If I spend $600 on homeschooling this year, we better be taking a nice vacation with homeschool opportunities built in.” This brings us right to my #1 favorite way to save money while homeschooling.
Make your learning a part of your life. Don’t separate learning from your every day activities. A trip to the grocery store is a major learning opportunity – health, math, science, and more. Going to the bank? Teach your kids how to fill out the deposit slip. Going on vacation? Look to see what is around where you are headed and make a book of free printables you find on the web that relate to those places for the kids to complete. Learn to navigate with street signs or give directions while on errands. The possibilities are endless.
Use the web to your advantage and find free printables. When we were going on a visit to my parents, we were going to stop by Carlsbad Caverns and go to White Sands. Both are in the desert so I used free printables to create a notebook for the girls to complete. That post is titled Vacation Books and I included links to many of the places I got printables from.
Field trips are a wonderful way to put knowledge to use or to get an experience prior to a unit study. There are tons of places that are free. Around here, we have several large parks that are great for nature study and observation. We also have a wetlands area that clean the water from a river naturally before it goes into the lake we get our drinking water from. There is a botanical garden. Our local university has an art exhibit area that is free and we have an art center at the community college that also has free exhibits. We also have a wonderful museum that we have a membership to and a great zoo where we have a membership. Don’t forget to think about local, state, and national parks. Many of these places also have a junior ranger program with a booklet for the kids to learn from and this program has been free every time our girls have participated.
Ask for memberships as a family gift for Christmas or birthdays. We have been wonderfully gifted our museum and zoo memberships at Christmas for the last few years. We have gotten so much use out of those memberships!
Camp experiences are another fantastic hands-on learning opportunity. Whether it is art camp, Bible camp, dance camp or any other. Again these could be birthday gifts or just an investment. Regardless, they are instruction that is hands-on and provides learning opportunities.
This one could be included in field trips but it really deserves its own focus. We live where we have several high schools, a community college, a university, a professional orchestra, and a community band. We have a lot of opportunities to take the girls to musical performances without it costing us a penny. We have heard a lot of great music, as well as some more specialty performances like handbells and violin soloists. We also have been able to go to some performances for cheap, such a musicals or professional musicians. So much can be drawn from these experiences. If you don’t have access to live performances, there are a lot of web resources.
Watch the sales. This is time of year to watch the sales flyers from places like Office Max and Target. Of course, Walmart and grocery stores have plenty of sales, as well. We are getting pencil pouches, erasers, and pencil sharpeners this week for a penny a piece. Know what you need and don’t stock up too much on things that can dry out (like clay or markers). Do stock up on things like paper, pencils, crayons, and glue. We will be watching for construction paper, glue sticks, and tape. Those are our big needs this summer.
Play games. You don’t need much to play games and most families have a lot of games in their home already. Chess has been a fantastic addition to our family game playing. It teaches so much about strategy and planning. All games teach sportsmanship, following rules, and patience. Many of them also teach teamwork. There are plenty that have math components, science thinking, or historical recall required. Games such as Connect Four, Don’t Break the Ice, and Jenga are fun and require logic. Monopoly – The Classic Editionworks on math a bit while teaching planning and economics on a small scale.
Jump back on the internet. Hit up Pinterest and YouTube. These are free to access and there is tons of information and projects you can find. Don’t have a CD on Medieval Dance Music? YouTube has it. Need a vocal piece of Civil War songs? Someone has pinned one on Pinterest. I use Pinterest to pin things that I publish here but I also use it so that as I am planning a unit or book study, I can find ideas that I think would be good. Feel free to check out and follow my Pinterest page.
Your library. I saved this one for the end for a reason. If you have nothing else in this list, you can still accomplish a lot. Your library is an excellent resource. Whether you have a mobile library or live in a town with multiple branches, they can help you find resources to fit whatever you are studying. We visit the library every week and we check out a minimum or 20 books and videos each time. The girls read like crazy and we use the library to find books to supplement what our studies include. For example, right now, each time we go the girls check out a book on Ancient Egypt to complement our Homeschool In The Woods study/review that is coming up in the next couple of weeks. The library has a summer reading program, book clubs, Lego clubs, story hour, family nights, and so much more. There is something for everyone and it is all free. Use your library!
I hope you got some ideas for reducing your budget for home education. We don’t homeschool for nothing but we do take advantage of a lot of the resources that we have available in our community.
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