Homeschooling and living on a tight budget sometimes conflict.
There just aren’t a lot of great “sales” on curriculum. There aren’t curriculum mega-stores offering 20% off all Language Arts on Fridays, or buy-one, get one free deals for math manipulatives. Have you ever BOUGHT math manipulatives?! They are what I consider to be a good investment. You invest in them, because while you need them, they aren’t cheap.
I LOVE a good deal.
Everyone loves a good deal, right? We hit the clearance racks when seasons change, we grab those Black Friday specials, or use those super coupons (okay I don’t coupon, but you know what I mean.) WE LOVE TO SAVE MONEY.
So how do homeschooling and frugality come to terms?
You can homeschool almost for free, if you really don’t mind doing a little bit of research. I am definitely no expert on this, but I have a few resources that are favorites and I’d love to share with you. I will begin with the obvious one:
Most of you have access to a local library. Some libraries are better or bigger than others, but most of us have them. I have been to some really awful large libraries, where the librarians weren’t the most helpful or their inter-library loan service was troublesome, and I have been to some really small, out of the way libraries who catered to homeschoolers and would go out of their way to find whatever we were looking for. Don’t judge a library by it’s size or quantity of books!
Free Online Curriculum
There are two popular programs out there which definitely warrant a look. The first is Ambleside Online, a K-12 program which is very much based on Charlotte Mason’s educational techniques. The majority of AO is based on public domain books, freely available (and downloadable) on their website. They have a very large online support group at Yahoo Groups as well.
The second, and my favorite, is An Old Fashioned Education. I can’t exactly explain why I like OFE better, except maybe just that it doesn’t come with a “program” or a set of rules for using it. Also based on public domain books, this K-12 program has a vast array of books, some in common with AO but many others are not. An Old Fashioned Education also includes downloadable math curriculum.
Public Domain ebooks
There are many, many sources to find books online that can be downloaded to your computer or eReader. Besides the two above full curriculums which offer ebooks, you may find them at their original sources such as Google Books and Project Gutenberg.
Public Domain Audio Books
One of my favorite websites is Loyal Books. This site contains MANY of the titles from AO and OFE, in audio book form! I am currently listening to Jane Eyre when I go to bed at night. I love, love, love this site. Most of the books there are from Librivox.org, which is a massive library of freely available, public domain audiobooks, but is easier to search than Librivox. Much larger than BSBF, Librivox is massive in its volume of titles!
Although not free, compilations of many titles of books can save you a lot of money. The Robinson Curriculum has been around for around 15-20 years, so this isn’t a new thing, but others are coming forward and bringing ebooks into the current millennium.
Yesterday’s Classics carries some of the very best in classic children’s literature and schoolbooks, and a very special package bundle of 225 ebooks.
Another favorite company for ebooks is called Heritage History. Each Heritage History Library contains dozens and dozens (40-90) of ebooks each in PDF, ePub and MOBI formats! That’s three formats for every single book. You can read the PDF on your computer, or load them into your Nook, Kindle or other eReader. Each library costs $20-25.
Free Curriculum Sites
Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool Created by a homeschooling mother of six, EP contains lesson plans (with links, printables, reading and writing assignments) for Kindergarten through high school, completely FREE.