Homescholing is great for many families but let’s face it, most homeschooling families are one income families because one parent must be home to school the children! Curriculum materials can be expensive but there are ways to get inexpensive materials and even free materials if you look around a little.
The best source of free materials has to be your local library. Make friends with your librarians. Find out the policies and how the librarians can help you. Youwill be amazed at the resources availalbe. Aside from the obvious books, librarires are a source for other materials as well. Many libraries offer DVDs and in my library, there is a huge selection of educational DVDs. The educational DVDs can be checked out for longer than the 3 day limit placed on the entertainment DVDs, giving you plenty of time to view. And, just because they are educational does not mean that they are boring! There are some wonderful National Geographic videos among others. Additionally, even in the entertainment section, there are many DVDs that are stil worth watching, either because you’ve read the book and want to compare/contrast or just because it has educational value of it’s own. Libraries also often have computer access and access to the internet that is availalbe for free use. Children’s ecuational games as well as language learning software might also be available. Books on tape are great for when your homeschooling family is going to be spending a lot of time in the car (and what homeschool family doesn’t, it seems?) Many libraries also have large meeting rooms that homeschool groups can use for things like clubs and activies. We have used such meeting rooms for things like Game Day, Lego Club, Book Clubs, Science Day and much more. And, if you are really nice, many librarians will set up special programs just for homeschooling students. My children have attended programs on many different topics and have had a great time with other h omeschooling friends, all because helpful librarians were asked and helped out.
Beyond your library, if you are looking for actual materials, you can check out internet homeschool discussion boards. Often other homeschoolers in your area will be giving away or selling books at a very fair price. Homeschool booksales are also often announced on these boards and there wonderful deals can be found. There are also often homeschool conferences, usually in the spring, where homeschoolers can go and buy and sell used as well as new books. You can search for homeschool conferences on sites such as google by using the keywords “homeschool conference” and you city or state. Make friends with other homeschoolers and have your own swaps. These too can prove very beneficial.
A source of free curriculum can be the internet. There are so many sites that will offer free worksheets or free games that children can use. For example, beginning readers can play on www.starfall.com to help them learn their letters, put letters together, and even read short stories. If you have a particul need, say counting and want a worksheet, search for “free counting worksheets and you will come up with many resouces available. You can even do this for advanced topics. There are some great geography and history sites available and if you have access to the internet, you have free materials. Some need to be printed out but others can be read right from the screen.
For free activities and grops for your children, you can swap with friends. For example, if one friend is good with music and another is good with art and you are good with group games or sports, you can take turns leading actities with groups of children. Each parent contributes their own skills and ideas and no one has to actually put out any money for the activities. In our group, we have a parent who leads game day once a month and another who leads a Lego Club. Still another leads a book club for pre-teens and another teaches kids to cook! My kids have been involved in so many actities and the most I have had to put out were for supplies, like for example when the kids were cooking, each parent chipped in about $5 but each kid came home with dinner and dessert for the family that evening! Dinner for $5 and socialization and fun for my daughter….what more could I want!
If you put your mind to it and really think it out, I’m sure that these ideas coupled with your own neighborhood and/or area will provide you with many more activities and resources you can use to homeschool your children. Don’t forget to use community resources and call upon people to help. Most people are willing to chip in and love to have a diversion from their every day routines. Like, look for field trips within the community that your children can learn from, i.e. a trip to the newspaper, bakery, or police station. There is so much out there to learn from!!!