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Homeschool For (almost) Free

Whether you are working with a really tight budget or just trying to be a good steward of God-given resources, there are a lot of ways to save money and cut back on the cost of homeschooling. Here are a few ideas and resources that can help you succeed in homeschooling with whatever budget you have to work with:

* Pray
No joke. If you are a Christian wanting to be a good steward of the resources God has given you, then prayer should be your first resort. Ask God to provide the items that you need and to give you discernment to know the difference between “need” and “want”. If you’re really seeking and depending on Him you will be amazed at how He will provide!

* Real Life Experience
Don’t underestimate the value of life experience. Your kids can learn a lot just from being around you and joining you in every day activities. Take advantage of every day situations to create learning experiences for your children. Teach them how to:
-- Cook meals (home economics, fractions)
-- Do their own laundry (home economics)
-- Garden and preserve food (nature, botany, science, home economics)
-- Pay for items at the checkout (consumer math)
-- Balance the checkbook (consumer math)
-- File taxes (consumer math)
-- Help dad with house or car repairs (mechanics, carpentry, construction)
Just simple, everyday activities can be a great educational experience, and it doesn’t cost you anything.

* Apprenticeship
If a child is interested in a particular occupation, you may consider finding someone who works in that field and asking if they would be willing to exchange knowledge for labor. There are many people willing to teach the skills they know in exchange for some help in doing the work. This can be a great way for your child to get some real educational experience free.

* Tutoring
Free tutoring can often be offered by senior citizens who would be more than willing to talk with a young student just to have the pleasure of their company each week.

* Field Trips
Free field trips are available all around you, many businesses or government offices would be more than willing to give a free tour of the facility, all you have to do is ask. Click Here for a listing of great field trip ideas.
* Museum Free Days. Find out which museums, parks, and zoos are available for free or have specific days when admition is free.
* Homeschool Buyers Coop has a large listing of field trip opportunities categorized by state or province (U.S.and Canada). Other similar sites include: Field Trip Factory and  The Homeschool Mom.
* Find field trips in the Northeast USA
* Check out Roadside America, which has an extensive list of “off the beaten path” attractions, historical monuments, parks, etc. Search by zip code to find what is in your area.
* Also check out A2Z Homeschooling, which has a great list of articles and resources to help you make the most of your field trip experiences.

* Library
Take advantage of your local library. As you are looking through different catalogs and see books you want, instead of purchasing them, first go to the library and see if you can check out the books instead. If your local library doesn’t have what you’re looking for, just ask the librarian for an inter-library loan, and they can see about borrowing the book from another library.

* Internet
The internet is a huge source of information. Instead of spending fortune buying dictionaries and encyclopedias, take advantage of the wealth of information you already have at your finger-tips.  
Wikipedia. Online encyclopedia that touches on just about every topic imaginable.
Knowledge Rush. A great reference for homeschool research, including Websters encyclopedia.
HippoCampus. Free educational resources for middle school to college.

* Free Resources
* An Old Fashioned Education. – Free homeschool curriculum that utilizes a combination of public domain textbooks and living books.  Contains a complete 40-week schedule for Bible, math, science, social studies, language arts, literature and history for grades K through 12.
* Free Homeschool Deals. Free resources for most everything  relating to homeschooling.
* Bible Based Homeschooling. Free Biblical homeschooling resources.
* Homeschool Giveaways. Great place for finding homeschool giveaways and freebies!
* Successful Homeschooling. This site has a compiled list of free resources for homeschooling, including lots of links to sites where you can find free printables.

* Printables and Downloads
Many homeschool families have made printable resources that are free to download and use in place of purchasing materials. Here are some favorite sites:
Pinterest. Pinterest is a great site where lots of people pitch in to share ideas and resources. You can find a lot of teaching resources and printables on Pinterest . . . just be sure you know in advance what you’re looking for, otherwise it’s easy to waste on this site.
A Teaching Mommy. HUGE selection of preschool packs on a wide variety of topics, including animals, places, seasonal activities, the community, All About Me and more.
Make Learning Fun. Lots of free printables for preschoolers and kindergartners.  
Guest Hollow. Free printables and unit studies.
The Homeschool Mom. Free homeschool planner and organizational sheets.
Free Homeschool Resources. Free printables for all subjects!
Donna Young. A HUGE selection of homeschool printables for all subjects. Also includes organization forms, planning charts, homeschool calendars, and end of year report cards.
Education. LOTS of free printables for all school subjects!
Confessions of a Homeschooler. Free printables.
Ellen McHenry. Free downloads for a wide selection of subjects.   
Simple Lesson Planning. Free online lesson planner to help organize your homeschooling experience.
Living Well Spending Less. Free homeschool planner.
Mr. Donn. Free lesson plans, games, activities, presentations, and learning modules for kids.

* Buy Used or Discounted
New books are nice, but used books can be purchased for 50% or less off the retail price.
Homeschool Classifieds is a great place to buy used curriculum.
Curriculum Share is a site where you can get free homeschool curriculum with your only expense being the cost of shipping.
Milestone Books has a used and discounted book section on their site, as well as a
“Buy Back Program” where you can send back the books you purchased from them so you can get a percentage back on the book after your kids are done using them.
Also check Amazons Used Homeschool Books for discount books. Ebay or VegSource are other great places to look for used homeschool materials.
Another great place to find used resources is if your local homeschool support group has used book sales or book exchanges.  
It is best to do some research and decide what you want first, because if you search for used materials online without any framework, everything will look good and you will end up spending a lot of money. Look through homeschool curriculum catalogues first to get an idea of what you want, and then see if you can buy the books used.
* Homeschool Buyer’s Coop. Before you purchase any homeschool curriculum, be sure to check out this coop which gives homeschoolers more buying power. It is free to join and the savings are often up to 25%-45% off.
* Educents offers great daily deals on educational materials and often offers 100% free downloadable printables as well.
* Homeschool Classified. One of the largest sites for buying and selling homeschool curriculum.

* Lend/Borrow
Get connected with other homeschool families through a homeschool support group. Support members are often willing to loan homeschool materials, or to give or sell resources they no longer need.  
If you want to borrow curriculum, make sure to set some ground rules:
* Make a complete list of everything you are borrowing/lending – Borrowed Items (.pdf)Items on Loan-Out (.pdf)
* Clearly convey the time frame you are loaning the material for
* Take extra good care of the materials (don’t bend the books back, get them wet, etc.)
* If something happens, replace the book or item
Also keep in mind that if you lend out books they are not likely to be returned in the same condition, expect some show of wear and tare, and don’t lend out anything you don’t want ruined.

* Swap Classes
Another advantage to being a part of a homeschool support group is that other members may be willing to swap some lessons, such as “I’ll teach your kids math if you’ll teach my kids science”. So rather than both families having to buy curriculum for a given class, families can join classes together and share resources.

* Recycle
Consider preserving the textbooks you buy so they can be passed down to the next child in line. Reusing the same books for each of your children can cut costs considerably.

For consumable workbooks, older children can write their answers in a composition notebook so that the workbook can be used again. For younger children, you can place workbook pages or printable worksheets in page protectors and let them write with a dry erase marker. They think it’s great fun and you can use the worksheets again!

* Kindle Books
Amazon’s Kindle books are a great way to get books for a discounted price. Purchasing books for the Kindle is often much cheaper than purchasing printed copies. Don’t have a Kindle? Not a problem. Amazon has a free Kindle application that makes it possible to read Kindle books on your computer.
* Ben and Me has a lot of free Kindle books for kids. Lots of timeless classics!

* eBooks
Knowledge Rush. Lots of free online books (no downloads required, just go to a page and start reading). Browse the classics or search the library. Also search Webster's 1913 dictionary and find other books on the Web.
International Children’s Digital Library. Enjoy having a children’s library at your fingertips. Great educational ebooks!
Old Fashioned Education. Links to public domain books available online for free.
Currclick. Free curriculum at the click of your mouse.
Main Lesson. Over 400 classic childrens books in many different Genre, including history, geography, biographies, historical fiction, nature, fairy tales, legends, fabels, mythology, poetry, and more.
Planet eBook. 80 plus free classics for download. Including popular literature, Les Miserables, Little Women, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Around the World in 80 Days . . . and more.
Kathi Mitchell. Free ebooks, with lesson plans and activities to accompany the reading assignments.
Many Books. 29,000 free ebooks to download and read for PC, Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.
No Fear Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s plays – old English on one side and today’s English on the other.

* Audio Books
There are several sites on the Internet that offer free audio books:
LibriVox. Volunteers at LibriVox record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. It is non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free. If you are also interested in reading a book from the public domain and recording it, you may submit it to them.
Storynory. This site has published an audio story every week since November 2005, so there are a lot of stories available. All the stories are beautifully read by professional actors and recorded in broadcast quality sound. All of their stories and audio books come with a full English text.
Kiddie Records. This site allows you to download or stream old classic stories and songs that you may remember from your own childhood. Many of these are read by the celebrities at the time they were made. Even if you don’t use these for school, you might want to listen to them on road trips this summer!
Robert Munsch. A favorite author. His books are funny and highly entertaining. These are available with streaming audio or by download. If listening online, you can’t back up or pause, so you have to start over every time you want to go back.
Books Should Be Free. A great site for finding classic audio books. These books downloaded as a podcast, so when you go to look for it in your iTunes library, look there first.
My Audio School. Originally created to be an aid for dyslexic students, the audio books at My Audio School have proven to be enjoyable to students of all ages and abilities. There is a paid version of this site, but enough free titles to keep you busy for a long time.
Story Nory. Fun stories for kids, including popular fairytales, educational stories, and more.
Audio Books for Free. Wide selection of public domain audio books.
The Story Home. Wide selection of fun children’s stories.
In Your Ear Shakespeare. Classic Shakespeare literature in audio format.  
Your Story Hour. Dramatized, educational stories featuring historical characters. . . .these resources aren’t free, but most of the stories are only $2 for the download.

* Software / Games
There are a lot of free educational programs available to download or use online. Computer programs can make learning fun while at the same time helping your child prepare to work in a technical culture.
Sheppard Software. Hundreds of free, online, educational games for kids. Many different subjects and many levels for learners of any age.
Learning Games. Online educational games.
Class Brain. Practice skills in geography, foreign language, English, language arts, or history in these brainy games.
Game Classroom. A portal to educational games and homework help curated by teachers with over 200 combined years of experience.

* Online Classes
Once again, the Internet provides another money saving option -- online classes! While many of them have enrollment fees, there are some that are completely free.  
Here are a few websites that offer free online classes:
Ambleside. Free, online curriculum using the Charlotte Mason method of learning. The curriculum uses as many free online books as possible, and there is no cost to use this information or join the forum. – a complete free Christian homeschool for your family!
Khan Academy. Free online video tutorials for lots of different subjects.
AIU High School. Online high school. Self-paced learning. Earn a high school diploma without physical class attendance.

* Correspondence Courses
Christian Homeschool Academy. Not free, but certainly affordable. A complete K-12 homeschool course with more than 140 Bible-based courses. This is a flexible program which allows parents to mix the grade levels of the subject materials according to the level and needs of each child. Once a student is enrolled into the program they receive: interactive CD-ROMs, textbooks, workbooks, audio and video programs, software for grading and record keeping. Includes activities both online and offline. Also includes additional features not offered in free courses, such as grade book, time log, tests, answer keys, transcripts, portfolios, and much more.

* Supplement the Income