Recently I was asked if homeschooling costs a lot. The truth is it can. Purchasing curriculum from publishers gets pricey really fast. Which is why I don’t go down that route. We’re low income so it’s important to keep the cost of homeschooling to a minimum. I do receive some provincial funding but not enough to purchase curriculum. It works out to a little over $10/month for year round schooling.
I disagree with people who say it’s possible to homeschool for free because there’s a trade-off. Yes, you can find curriculum for free through various websites but then printing costs go up. Way up. There is also more time commitment to this route. It’s more accurate to say it’s possible to homeschool frugally. I’ll explain how I keep my costs down in this post along with our picks for curriculum.
Please note that I am not receiving any remuneration from any of the links I mention in this post. I’m currently not a part of any referral program for the sites. I’m simply mentioning them because it’s what I have found most useful for our homeschool. I’ve tried a LOT of curriculum from various sites but these are my favourites.
When setting up your homeschool, I highly recommend getting a laminator. I was given one year ago so I don’t really have any suggestions on brand. Mine is probably not even available anymore. It’s best to read reviews on this.
I also recommend checking into HP Instant Ink. I’ve had HP printers for over five years and recently discovered this program. It’s a monthly subscription to ink based on the number of pages printed. It’s super flexible and affordable. What I love most about this program though is that the printer orders my ink for me and it’s mailed to me. I have not used up my first cartridges yet so I’m not sure about their claim to ink arriving before I run out. I can say that I’ve printed a lot more since joining this program and the ink cartridges definitely have more ink than store bought cartridges.
When it comes to printers I highly recommend getting a printer with automatic duplex printing. My old printer did not have this feature and it drove me crazy! When it ran out of ink I bought myself a new printer (my Christmas present to me, on sale with a coupon it was cheaper than buying new ink cartridges) with duplex printing and my sanity has returned. Except when I accidently double side something I don’t want double sided.
If the techie homeschool avenue is appealing to you, find a homeschool buyer’s co-op. I’ve saved a lot of money on website subscriptions through co-ops. As you’ll see below our favs our IXL, BrainPop and SpellingCity. All of which I bought through a buyer’s co-op and would not have been able to afford without the co-op. I highly recommend checking out Techie Homeschool Mom and subscribing to her blog. She offers a lot of great advice on using technology in homeschool. Common Sense Education is also a great place for advice and reviews on apps/websites for education.
Now to the nitty gritty. Our curriculum is ever evolving but here are our current favourites:
Christian Education – JellyTelly, we start each day with watching one video. Currently, we’re watching “Buck Denver Asks What’s in the Bible?” If you like VeggieTales, Buck Denver is another Phil Vischer creation but for slightly older kids. JellyTelly offers a weekly devotional for kids through their blog but we found using a video series was more in tune with our love of unit studies. We’ve watched “5 Minute Devotional” and “Owlegories” and the Christmas series with Buck Denver (I can’t remember the exact name, something about questions). I have looked at and used some of the freebies at Thinking Kids as well as Proverbial Homemaker (Tauna has great resources for homeschool and parents). We have an amazing children’s pastor who also gives me ideas of topical studies every now and then.
IXL and games from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. I like IXL because it follows provincial curriculum. I’ve heard that in the USA there is more than just math and English which I hope they bring to Canada. 123 Homeschool 4 Me has some great games to break up the monotony of doing IXL every day. We’re working on multiplication so there’s lots of practicing skills. The Games Beth offers are fun and B likes playing.
A mix of BrainPop, IXL, 123 Homeschool 4 Me (free for homeschool use), This Reading Mama (free & paid), The Brown Bag Teacher (paid), Teachers Pay Teachers (free & paid) and Read Works (free). Again, IXL is great for worksheet style practice but BrainPop gives more instruction and background while the other sites offer games to support learning. I find copywork pages from a variety of websites which, to be honest, I can’t remember right now. I have a lot that I’ve downloaded but then decided not to use. I sometimes use Brainy Quotes to find copywork.
We do a lot of unit studies in science. When creating a unit study I use BrainPop, YouTube, Netflix, CuriosityStream. For Nature Studies I get a lot of ideas from Handbook of Nature Study. I have not tried any of the paid content on her site. I subscribe to her blog which gives me enough ideas for our studies. I’ve also swapped out her recommended nature study book with one specific to our city. Mostly because I could and it’s more relevant to us. Life seems more exciting when you’re learning about the specifics of your own city.
We’ve been using the book “Story of the World” with Homeschool with Minecraft. There are four volumes to SOTW that start from the beginning of time and move chronologically. It’s quite interesting and well written even for younger kids. Homeschool with Minecraft offers additional videos that go along with each chapter, review questions and a Minecraft building challenge. It was a bit expensive for my budget (which is super low) but I’ve found it’s worth the price. We are also learning about politics. There’s a provincial election this year so we’re meeting with candidates and visiting the Legislature Assembly. In Canada we have Student Vote and other resources for teaching politics to kids. We will be hosting a voting station for homeschool students to cast a vote for who they want to be Premier. Votes across BC will be tabulated just like regular results.
B is learning how to play the piano through Hoffman Academy (free & paid options) We have also done unit studies using various websites and YouTube videos. In December we did a Christmas Carol unit study and started a Jazz unit study where we look at famous jazz musicians and the various styles of jazz. B’s interest in jazz comes and goes so this venture has taken longer to complete. We have a listening worksheet where he needs to identify tempo, instruments and comment on whether he likes it or not and why. We used the same worksheet for our Christmas Carol study.
Currently, we’re doing a study of famous artists through Techie Homeschool Mom. We’re fans of chalk art and I’ve found the resources at Hodge Podge to be easy to follow and the cost is minimal. She recently started an online video class but B is more interested in exploring chalk art on his own so I buy her ebooks. We’ve also used BrainPop for a bit of theory on art.
B may only be 8 years old but he’s very technologically inclined. He is learning to type through Typing.com (free) and learning Java Minecraft Modding through Coda Kid which I bought on sale through Educents. We will also be starting the Digital Citizenship course through Common Sense Education
currently, B is learning how to skateboard while learning about SMART goals. We’ve set a goal of learning a new skateboard trick over the next few weeks. The majority of what I’m teaching regarding SMART goals comes from a college course I took last year.
B is also learning to sew, knit, cook, bake, clean the apartment and do his laundry. He enjoys helping. I do not have curriculum for this as they are all things I know how to do. Most of the cooking is super easy because I don’t like complicated recipes for dinner.
We cover a lot. I’ve been told by homeschool veterans I cover too much for B’s age. However, B gets bored easily and asks for more. Despite everything we still only homeschool for three to four hours a day if B is motivated and stays on task. That said, I don’t consider the homemaking type stuff part of our homeschool lessons as we mostly do that on the fly. It’s only planned when B picks that for his unschooling day.