And not only programs/curriculum but also all the extracurricular activities to get them out of the house, exposed to new things, and socializing with peers. As in, music, dance, karate, trips to museums, etc etc.
We live in a boring town about 1.5 hours from any museums so trips to museums could get costly. Plus all those extra classes add up. I'm afraid we won't be able to afford HSing, especially as they get older. Any thoughts?
You don't have to buy a packaged curriculum, you can put something together yourself with books and the internet.
Libraries have free activities/groups. Not to mention books.
My oldest is in gymanstics in the fall/winter ($150) and soccer in the spring/summer ($34). She'd be in those whether or not we homeschooled. And again you don't have to do "all those extracurricular activities". There are also clubs that you can join that would be cheap/free (hiking, astronomy, etc).
If you join a homeschool group you can get together with other kids for free to socialize.
We also live in a boring town but I have no intention of driving to the next one to get to a museum (for it's 9 hours away!). They can learn about stuff online. Our art gallery has free admission on Wednesdays.
It's still early. Do you have a homeschool style in mind? You can be really cheap and creative if you aren't set on doing school at home.
That said, I actually opted to get a part-time work-at-home job to make it easier for us to afford swimming, soccer, field trips, etc. I would not have needed a part-time job in order to afford curriculum, though.
Here are some thoughts on free stuff we've used:
Math: MEP - don't let the fact that this is free fool you. It's a great math curriculum!
Reading: Progressive Phonics - these free books helped my daughter make GREAT strides with reading. Starfall wasn't really her cup of tea, but lots of people like it. PBS Kids Island - free pre-reading and reading games
There are TONS of free resources available for all kinds of subjects. As long as you have access to a library and a computer, there is no reason why you would need to spend a significant amount of money on homeschooling unless you want to.
Mostly until now we have read classics - Tom Sawyer, the Bible, Swiss Family Robinson, Captains Courageous, The Wild, The Black Stallion, Chronicles of Natnia, etc - lots and lots of reading- many times spending hours outside on a blanket under a shady tree just reading. Then we'd branch out from there- have the kids answer ?s for comprehension, have them write a sentence or 2 about the chapter we read- this works on grammar, spelling, sentence structure, handwriting. We pull out a map and find the location that the book is taking place in- do some map activities, etc. We learn some interesting history facts, look at pictures of the place either online or from a library book. We can cover all subjects just by branching out from one used book I have on my bookshelf!
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
We do a children's theatre program, but like pp said, we'd do that even ifthey were in school--I think music lessons, ect all fall into that camp.
I spent about 300 getting games, books to read, and non consumable craft stuff that will be used through all the children. This yr I've maybe spent 100$.
You can totally spend more or less, depending on what you decide to do--we don't really do packaged prgrams and very few curriculum-type items.
caution: one-handed nak
If you start to really dig in you might find artists, musicians and hobbyists willing to share their passions, interesting businesses to tour, speakers at the library/high school, cool organizations where you can volunteer, community groups you can join where you can find people with lots of things in common, heritage buildings to explore, nature trails or programs, festivals, free concerts, farms, city services etc etc. Education doesn't just happen in the big exciting venues.
We live in a somewhat boring town - on the surface - with a tiny local museum and a small art gallery but there are tonnes of things we can do and have done - many of them are cheap or free, and are often things people don't about until they dig.
Other things you can put together yourself - a science club, book/writing club, nature programs etc.
As for curriculum - as others have said it can be inexpensive. A math and phonics program for one child for a year can be purchased for $50ish a year total and everything else you can get online or at your library (and you could skip the math and phonics too but most people like the structure of those).
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Here's a description of the guides.
These guides are put together by Nancy Plent, founder of the Unschoolers Network in New Jersey and a long-time homeschooler. She reviewed the scope and sequence charts and curriculum guides of dozens of schools in various states, then combined the highest standards of elements from each to create these guides. Why purchase these curriculum guides? 1) They may help you to fulfill your state's legal requirement to provide an educational plan 2) They allow you to see some of the highest standards for schools at various grade levels, just in case you are curious about what the schools expect or are anxious about what you are doing 3) They provide record-keeping space that can help organize a portfolio.
Besides providing a checklist under each subject, Nancy offers suggestions on how to translate real-life experience into curricula goals. She also lists resources from a variety of companies. Each guide covers two or more grade levels.
So even if you don't want to unschool, these could be of great help in developing your own curriculum and they're pretty cheap.
Also, based on info I found on the unschooling forum, I did a search on Peter Gray on the Psychology Today website and he has lots of interesting looking articles. You may find this info further lessons how much money you need to spend. Here are a couple really good articles:
Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it. See me at
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We get a lot of great classes for about 50% off private fees by using the county rec center programs. We also use various church programs for dance and music / choral instruction that are free / tax-deductible donation only. Well, they are free but of course you have to show up to perform and take your job seriously. DD (6) is actually auditioning today for a church music program that would pay HER a stipend. We are out in the community all the time ...
Also yes, there are some things that are worthwhile and pricey. I just bought Rosetta Stone, 3 levels, $483. But that will last us for many years. It will probably break down to $15 a month or less for both the kids and me.
There are much cheaper language learning computer systems. I just felt like the best thing for us right now while we had the money was to get a system I had a lot of confidence in because of the time commitment we were looking at.
And that's another thing. You can plan to make one big purchase that you plan to last for years, once a year when you get your tax refund or Christmas bonus etc.
Some families ask the grandparents to buy museum, zoo, etc memberships for Christmas. Around here that's not unreasonable as things can start in the $75 a year range.
If you really think it is a concern, or simply want more money for your family, I suggest you work part time. Many people earn money somehow and homeschool. It is entirely possible this won't be necessary for a few years - there is little need to spend money on early curriculum unless you want to. It is not that hard to work on basic reading and number sense with a mommy/library/internet designed program. I have 3 kids who did that, lol
Also, a pp mentioned a "scope and sequence", I went around to different curriculum companies that were popular and asked for their scope and sequence pamphlets as well as catalogues. It gave me some good ideas on what to teach for what grade, and helped me feel confident I was covering my bases. I also went to my province's education website to get an idea of what public schooled kids were learning each year. I didn't feel the need to cover every subject and lesson they were doing in other schools and curriculums, but I felt better knowing rather than being in the dark. I do feel as though we have gone far more in depth in our studies while homeschooling than they cover in public school- and in far less time each day.
We also do swimming lessons in the summer- which we would do if they were in ps as well. We didn't have the $ to cover it ourselves last summer so we used the kids' birthday $$ they got from Grandparents.
Also go to the library and look for their homeschooling books. I was suprised to find a large selection of hs books in our small town library- how to books, why to books, etc on homeschooling. I really like Linda Dobson's "Homeschooling the Early Years". It really made me feel like "I can do this!" when I was first starting out.
Alex 8 Gabby 6 (Homeborn!) Gideon 2.... chickens, ducks, cats and a dog
I probably spent about $250 on curriculum. We do a lot of "field trips" but I am in a major metro.
If you can find a local HS group you can get in on group field trips. I tend to be a bit chaotic so we usually do our field trips on our own.