Free and Cheap Home-Schooling Materials


Free and Cheap Home-Schooling Materials

So, you’re home-schooling and you’ve sacrificed a second income so you can stay home with your children.  Maybe you’ve been to a home-schooling curriculum fair or pored through curriculum catalogs.  The cost for curriculum can add up fast!  So, what do you do if you just don’t have the money?

First, you’ll need to make some mental adjustments.  Relax your expectations of “curriculum.”  You can find a scope and sequence for each grade from various sources.  Some curriculum companies have them and you can find them online.  Your state may have a Board of Education web site that includes your state’s requirements for each grade.

Then, evaluate your priorities.  As a Christian home-schooling family you probably have some spiritual goals that are over-riding concerns.  Are these concerns truly a priority?  I would suggest putting your money where your priorities are first.  Then work backwards from there.

For our family, teaching our children a Biblical worldview is an over-riding educational concern.  So, for us, acquiring history and science materials in line with these goals is our financial priority, educationally.  We will use the free and cheap alternatives for history and social studies facts that don’t have a world-view perspective.  For instance, to teach the names of all the States, their geographical locations and abbreviations we don’t need a curriculum.  I can get materials elsewhere.  But to teach world history, we want material that teaches from Creation onward with an eye toward “His-story.”  We’re not likely to find that at the local library!

Once you know which materials you must focus your financial resources on, you can start looking elsewhere for the other material you need.  This may seem very intimidating but God has answers even for this!  When the Word says God has given us”…all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him…” (II Peter 1:3) it includes our home-schooling plans and materials.  Give God permission to break apart your preconceptions of what you “must” do or have and enlist His aid in finding the materials you need. 

Here are some practical suggestions.  The first thing is to take advantage of the free resources out there.  Of course, everyone knows about using the library.  But did you know that many local libraries are part of the Library of Congress inter-library loan system and can order just about any book for you?  It takes quite awhile for LOC books to arrive at your library and you can only check them out briefly but this can be a valuable savings for you with careful planning.  Not all libraries are part of the LOC system but it is certainly worth asking.

Then there is the virtually limitless resource of the internet.  The internet is the best thing to happen to research in a long time!  Plan some time to browse and learn how to make folders in your “favorites” or “bookmarks” if you don’t already know how to do this.  Make a folder for each subject.  Then start searching with your favorite search engine.  You can search for English grammar, U.S. History, World War I, Spelling, Literature, Mathematics, etc.  You will find more resources than you could ever use including free worksheets, complete texts of classic literature, thematic craft projects, etc.  Save links to your favorite finds in each subject folder in your “bookmarks.” 

Another handy resource for you is to request the catalogs of curriculum publishers.  There are several which are literature based or “living books” and history based.  If you have a copy of the catalogs you can then hunt for the books that would be beneficial for your child, either at the library or through one of the inexpensive alternatives.

As you are able, there are some low-cost materials you may want to acquire.  An older set of encyclopedias will be helpful.  Your children can use these to research a lot of things even though they don’t have the most current information.  You can pick these up very inexpensively at thrift stores and Friends of the Library sales.  These are also great places to pick up literature books and “living” history books.  Also, in some areas local home-schoolers hold annual or periodic sales where used materials are available.

If some titles still elude you then you can start looking at used online sources.  Check online auctions, used book web sites, or find some home-school used book e-mail groups where home-schoolers buy, sell and trade materials.

If there is a school supply store near you, you can find some helpful tools there inexpensively if you keep your blinders on and don’t get sidetracked by all the other glitzy things you see.  These stores have specific-skill workbooks, flash cards, maps and other such items, usually for under $5.

Here’s another possible resource.  In some areas local schools have workshop facilities for teachers.  This is a resource center where teachers can have access to special cutters, papers, and other tools and lots of room to work.  In our area, this facility is open to home-schooling parents as well. 

If there are other home-schooling families near you, ask around to find out what local resources are available.  You don’t have to agree with every part of their philosophy or theology to share information and resources where you do agree — that parents have the right to teach their own children according to the demands of their consciences.  It’s also amazing what several families working together can accomplish in collecting or creating resources.

Danette Tucker


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