How do families homeschool for free?


Child holding money

One thing I wish I had known when getting started with homeschooling was what quality resources were FREE and where to find them. I made mistakes that cost me money in the beginning that I can share with others to avoid making the same mistakes!

Homeschool resources can be found for free or very inexpensive. There are some basic costs associated with all forms of schooling, but with some research and careful planning, parents can create a free quality home education.

There are many options for homeschooling. This makes it difficult to determine how much it will cost to homeschool your children.

Parents thinking about homeschooling want to know if it’s free because public school is considered “free.” I would have to disagree. It is true in the sense that parents do not pay a monthly or yearly tuition fee (although some would argue that comes in the form of property taxes).

However, there are still costs associated with public school as shown below.

HomeschoolBothPublic School
Curriculum KitsField TripsFundraisers
PrintingSuppliesPictures
Lunch
(Free at public school if eligible)
Yearbook
Miscellaneous Fees-
Books, Lockers, Parking
Vending
School Logo Clothing
Transportation
(If not using buses)

Below is a summary of common homeschool expenses and free options available.

Free Homeschool Curriculum

One of the largest expenses with homeschool is the curriculum. If you have a limited budget for homeschooling, a free curriculum can be a great option. The downside (as opposed to a mail ordered kit with workbooks) is having to print any copies from home, which would require costs associated with a printer, ink and copy paper.

Below are five free resources for homeschool classes and curricula and a general description of each.

CurriculumFormatNotes
Easy Peasy All in OneMix of online & traditional resources pulled from open sources, Daily Lesson Plans, Mostly text based and requires some printingK-12, Religious, Non-accredited
Khan AcademyFull MATH curriculum, Supplemental resources for other subjects, More options geared towards high school/science,
Videos, articles, and questions
K-12, Secular, Non-accredited
MobyMaxOnline, Free (Limited features after free trial ends) & Paid Versions, Interactive e-CurriculumK-8, Secular, Non- accredited
Plain and Not So PlainPrintable Curriculum in Core Subjects,
Text & Worksheet Based Curriculum
1-9, Religious, Non-accredited
Discovery K12Text based full curriculum (Paid premium features)PK-12, Secular, Non-accredited
Common (religious based) homeschool curriculum.

Free Homeschool Supplies

What about supply costs for homeschoolers?

A typical price range for consumables in addition to the curriculum averages $100-300 per year if lessons require a printer, copy paper and ink.

It is possible to find homeschool supplies and materials you may need for free or very inexpensive.

Here are some things you can do:

Go paperless.

Save money on print costs by working off of digital copies. Students can do their work on dry erase boards or you could laminate certain practice pages that can be used multiple times.

This does assume your homeschooler will have an electronic device. While it’s an upfront cost, it does save costs in the long run if you use free online resources. A Chromebook is an affordable and durable option for most students.

Buy used.

Another way to save money on supplies is to shop at discount stores or places like Goodwill. Goodwill will often bag up school supplies (many new) and sell a bag full of assorted supplies. They have a school supply section that is great for finding things like scissors, glue, crayons, etc.

I’ve purchased all of the supplies below- new or gently used- at Goodwill for a fraction of the cost in the stores:

  • Notebook Paper
  • Construction Paper
  • Glue Sticks
  • Post it Notes
  • Highlighters
  • Spiral Notebooks
  • Index cards

Yard sales are another one of my favorite ways to find cheap homeschool supplies and materials. Churches that have private schools will often have a yearly sale and this is a gold mine for cheap homeschool materials! You can often find children’s books, workbooks, and all kinds of supplies at church yard sales. Our computer desk workstation was $3.00 from one of these sales!

Make a central supply station.

A lot of consumable supplies that kids might need end up in various locations or junk drawers in homes. If you could invest in a drawer organizer it actually saves money over time because all of the supplies find a permanent home and can end up here from looking through the house.

Free Homeschool Memberships

Local co-op of homeschool families could provide a wealth of information and resources. It could also be a way to connect and meet up locally with other families.

Some of these co-ops have yearly membership costs or dues, usually in the $25-50 range. This price usually offers a huge return on investment with local advice and ideas. For example, our local group reminded parents that they could apply for an ID to save money with certain school supply vendors and local businesses. Knowing helpful tips like this could save money over time.

Facebook groups provide valuable sources of information and there are many free to join. You may find a group that is specific to your state or curriculum being used. These groups offer a great way to get and share good ideas with other homeschool families.

Free Homeschool Field Trips

Field tripsThere are many virtual field trips and free activities available to homeschoolers. These are a great time investment as they provide hands-on learning experiences and exploration.

These places or ideas are free and offer great learning opportunities for the whole family!

Libraries– Some homeschool families consider their local library a regular part of the homeschool day, going several times a week. Libraries have books, scheduled activities and some have STEM or special learning centers set up for younger kids.

Historical Sites– Historical sites, especially ones close to your local area, are pieces of history that are still telling a story of that era in time. They contain artifacts and memorabilia to give kids a unique perspective on another time and place.

Community Festivals- Check out your local newspaper or chamber of commerce website for free events in your town. Parades, concerts and festivals are great activities for families and a way to be involved in your community.  

Farms/Orchards- An orchard or farmer’s market is a place full of sights, smells- for better or worse, and fun activities. Many of these places offer demonstrations of the farm to table process. They often allow and encourage kids to get involved.

Virtual Field Trips- The Internet opens up the possibility of travel from home! Virtual field trips only cost the time you take to explore different places and areas online. These will only become more engaging and interesting over time, which is great for our homeschool and traditional school kiddos.

Other ways to reduce homeschool expenses:

Hobbies- If your child has particular hobbies or interests like crafts, LEGOS, games or marbles… ask for these types of gifts for birthdays or Christmas. Our grandparents and aunts/uncles love getting these ideas for gifts because it takes out the guesswork for them and it contributes to the homeschool costs for us!

Subscriptions- Supplemental costs would also include monthly subscriptions for things like software or magazines. There are a lot of free software options. You may be able to find good kid’s magazines by asking in a local Facebook group or checking with the local library- sometimes they give these away to anyone who wants them.

Tutors– If your child needs tutoring in a specific area, a one on one option for free is not likely unless you have a family member or friend who is willing to work with your child on a particular skill. Another option is Youtube. There are so many people freely sharing their expertise on a range of topics about everything from math to mechanics. While it should be monitored, Youtube can’t be ignored as a valuable learning tool.

Books- Libraries are an obvious resource for access to all kinds of books and genres. Some online platforms offer e-texts for free, one to check out is Epic! for kids or myON reader. You could also find books at yard sales, thrift stores or by swapping books among other homeschool families.

In summary, the cost of homeschool can be adjusted to fit family budgets. There has never been a better time for families to have access to free materials and resources that support a student’s learning journey!

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Ideas to homeschool for free and find free or inexpensive homeschool supplies and resources.