Tuesday 9 April 2013

14 Ways to save money on home education resources

Home education isn't cheap both in terms of time and money. I don't know that it is possible to save on the time part but it is possible to make a little money go further.

I find that it is best to make a plan for the subject and then look to save money. These are 14 ways to reduce costs of home education materials.

  • Plan early-this gives time to explore second hand and free resources. Second hand resources are more likely to be available at the end of the academic year. It is worth having made plans well in advance-the early bird catches the worm!

  • Check out free resources. The internet is full of ideas, programmes and "printables" This post has links to some that we use. Homeschool helper online and 1+1+1=1 both have printable materials.  There is even a free maths curriculum. Ambleside on line is a free Charlotte Mason curriculum. Some of the suggested books are free on line. If you don't have a kindle or equivalent, there is a free kindle programme available for computers-not so convenient but it does work! 

  • Second hand. Many textbooks, reference books and of course, fiction can be brought second hand. Be careful about dated science books and with UK exams being really prescriptive,when preparing an up-to-date text is necessary. Otherwise, second hand books are friends! We have made major savings on Five in a Row books, Latin texts as well as English and maths books. Sources include Amazon, Ebay, home education groups, friends, home education internet groups (some UK groups are listed on my UK home education resources page) as well as Facebook groups and home education conferences' and conventions' second hand stalls. Don't forget charity shops (Goodwill). I have found Galore Park textbooks, references books and plenty of children's stories hidden away in charity shops.

  • Shop your own bookshelves. This is unlikely to turn up the year 4 maths book that you really want but may well turn up loved books from childhood that can be used as read-alouds or forgotten books with pictures of Roman remains.

  • Look at discount stores. We have used School Surplus for art supplies and some stationery.  The Book People have discounted books.

  • Libraries. The on-line catalogue is a friend. We have found libraries especially helpful for picture books, read alouds, art ideas as well as  history and geography resources. 

  • Do you really need it? Like most home educators, I have brought materials that we haven't really used because we have other, better resources or because there just aren't enough hours in the day. It is always worth thinking twice!

  • Look before you leap! Sample chapters on line/friends' books are worth examining. I have a rule, which I have broken on occasion, not to buy anything unless I have seen at least a sample. On some of the occasions that I have broken this, I have had my fingers burnt.

  • Check out different suppliers-Amazon isn't always cheapest.

  • Does it need to come from across the Pond? There are great US home education materials and we use a fair few but somethings can be bought much more cheaply in the UK.

  • Is it possible to save on postage? Is the supplier coming to a local resource day? Is a friend visiting from the US and could bring a book over?

  • If all else fails and there is some expensive, unused curriculum sitting on the shelves, sell or give on. It may be ideal for someone else. Materials which just don't work for one family, can work well for another.  Unwanted resources only take up space and end up needing dusting.

  • Borrow and of course, lend out books that aren't currently in use.

  • Make your own-we made a book about being home educated when one of our children reached formal "school age"

but for some amazing home made equipment look at the spindle boxes, red rods and alphabet over at Pyjama School.

Please share your thoughts on saving money on home education materials.

Other frugal posts:

Frugal Educational Trips

Curriculum and Money

Keeping the cost of living down

Frugal Family 2013

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  1. I love the idea to make your own book about being home educated. That's definitely going on my to-do list!

    1. I'm hoping to make another one, this September, when my youngest reaches "school" age.

  2. Make your own and internet freebies have really saved our budget. Thank you for reminding me of other possibilities as well!

  3. Great tips! We love buying used books and we use the library a ton. It is also pretty amazing what you can get online for free these days!

  4. Almost all our resources come from Amazon and charity shops. I buy a year in advance and we live in a great area for charity shops, which save us a fortune. Buying in advance means there is no rush. We also as a family pray about our needs and God always supplies what we need and more often what we want too. So blessed!
    Great list!

  5. Yes, you can save so much money. And, for the record, as a reviewer of homeschool materials I have found that it isn't the expensive ones that are always the best fit for a family.

    If you're considering a certain curriculum resource, I recommend Cathy Duffy's wonderful book 101 Top Picks, to see if it will be a good fit for your family. I reviewed it and recommend it as a wonderful way to avoid expensive curriculum mistakes. http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/08/review-101-top-picks-for-homeschool-curriculum-by-cathy-duffy/

    The only expensive resources our family relies on are Apologia Science and Veritas Press's Omnibus, both for the upper years.

    1. I've heard about the Cathy Duffy book-will have to look at it.

      Apologia is one of our expensive buys-we use the Elementary too. Worth the money, I think!

  6. If you live near London or the M25, you can use the home school library at the London Outreach Centre. It has been very helpful, and they have textbooks, devotional material and other useful items.

    1. Thank you, Anthea. I should have added this. We've found them a particularly good source for Five in a Row materials.

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