Friday 18 March 2011

Home education and money

I was going to call this "Economical home education" but education isn't cheap and probably shouldn't be. Before I upset everyone, just think, the main cost for most organisations including schools is the salary bill. Most home educators have given up all or most of one salary for the children's education. It is easy to say that the large figures suggested as the cost of bringing up children don't apply but once the loss of income is factored in, home education isn't cheap.

Then there is the cost of those lovely parcels of new books. I love getting new books, looking through them and working out exactly how we will use them.

Is it possible to make savings? Well, of course, and here are a few of my thoughts on the subject. Do remember that I am only two years into home ed. We believe that the children's education is important and is a higher priority than holidays or meals out. Yes, we do have both (thank you Tesco vouchers for the meals out!) but if anything has to go then these go well before education and there has been a year when that happened.

How to avoid over spending on home education.
-look before you leap.
Many publishers have free chapters on line. We have used these on more than one occasion before buying. This is particularly helpful if it is difficult to see a physical copy of the book.
Ask a friend if you can see their copy.
E-mail friends abroad who may have seen the book. This saved me an expensive mistake on a curriculum that I would have had to buy from abroad.
Read reviews.

-Buy second hand. This works better for some books than others. Great for the Latin book that is also used in schools. Not so good for the really popular science book which isn't published in the UK. Beware of old editions of science books-the information may be incorrect. Fine if you are sure of your ground on the number of planets or the genome project but a problem for most of us.

-Teachers' books. This is a difficult one. It isn't always clear whether a teachers' book is just an answer book or whether it has more information.
I couldn't manage without the Latin teachers' guide with its comments on how to introduce a subject, common mistakes and ideas for further activities.
What I thought was an English teachers' guide turned out to be an expensive answer to comprehension questions.
I currently don't use maths teachers' books but enjoy maths and think it is a useful exercise to work out the answers myself. If I didn't like maths it would be different but again a proper teachers' book is more useful than a mere answer book.

-Use good but inexpensive resources. "Mothers' Companion" could be used alone up to age about 9-10. I don't use this alone but it is a great resource. I hope to review this properly at a later point.
I haven't used Ambleside on line but this is free.
Don't forget the library.


  1. Good tips:)

    I buy most everything second hand...ebay.

    I usually start searching long before I need something, to find the best deals.

  2. Thanks for the tips! We want to do Montessori maths with Aaron but the materials are very expensive, so I'm hoping to make my own for 1/5th of the price!

  3. I also like to buy non-consumable resources that can be used again with another child where-ever possible. We use a printable maths curriculum at the moment which is cheap and could obviously be used again. Still I'm aware that some curriculums might not work so well for another child, just because they worked with a first child.

  4. Love the ideal of home made Montessori materials. Hope you post pictures.

  5. Thanks, Sarah, for the advice.
    I was speaking to my friend, Mandi, who is a veteran homeschooler just last night about the cost. She did remind me that the costs for sending our kids to public school may end up quite expensive, too. For that, you must factor-in the cost of uniforms, shoes, petrol/diesel to drive them to school (unless it's in walking distance), costs for field trips that you did not pick, and lots of other supplies (which multiple kids can't share if they're in public school).
    She is very frugal and has found some real deals. She did, for example, buy two years' worth of curricula that is four years ahead of where her daughter is now, used and at a garage sale, for $200 together. She doesn't usually buy that far ahead, but when she sees the deal, she takes it.

    Beth Fisher