August is quickly approaching, which means that we're entering back to school season. And right now, many parents have to make tough decisions about attending school in the fall.
COVID-19 cases are rising in many states, forcing some parents to switch to their schools' digital learning plans. Others are leaving the school system altogether and choosing to homeschool their kids.
It's not an easy choice for any parent to make, and everyone has to choose what's right for their family. And it becomes even more complicated when you consider how much homeschooling costs.
- Read More: Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School
7 Ways to Homeschool on a Budget
There are many advantages to homeschooling, but unfortunately, it isn't free. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), most homeschooling parents pay between $300 to $600 per child per year. So if you have multiple kids, this can add up quickly.
Transitioning to homeschooling your kids won't be easy, but you can do it without spending an arm and a leg. Here are seven ways to homeschool your kids on a budget:
1. Do Your Research
If you want to save money on any expense, you need to do your homework and go into it with a plan. Homeschooling is no exception! Fortunately, there are tons of free homeschooling resources for parents online.
A good place to start would be by talking to local homeschooling parents. They can let you know what curriculum they've tried and what has worked or not worked for them. You can also join a homeschooling Facebook group for additional support.
Once you have a better understanding of what will go into homeschooling your kids, make a detailed list of all the supplies you'll need. From there, you can start coming up with a budget to keep you on track.
2. Use as Many Free Resources as Possible
You may not realize it, but you can access hundreds of free resources your kids can utilize, both online and in-person. For instance, Khan Academy is a popular option for many homeschoolers.
The nonprofit provides free resources for kids in grades K-12. There are tons of interactive lessons and video clips on math, science, technology, and more.
If you're looking for ways to encourage your kids to read, you should check out Starfall. This interactive website is geared towards kids from preschool up to third grade. Scholastic is another good option, and Audible is currently offering free audiobooks for kids.
3. Watch Your Supply Budget
If you've ever gone back-to-school shopping at Target, you know how easy it is to overspend on school supplies! Most homeschoolers seem to agree that the costs add up quickly when you begin buying supplies.
By now, you've already created your budget, so you know how much you have to spend. Now you just need to do a little digging and look for the best deals on supplies.
Resell websites, like Homeschool Classified and eBay, are a great way to find gently used items for less. And you can also buy things like paper, pens, pencils, and crayons in bulk. And remember you can always find school supplies at Dollar Tree.
4. Save on Your Curriculum
Buying the right curriculum for your child can be overwhelming! Ideally, this curriculum will last them for the next nine months, so you want to get it right.
That's why you want to take your time when choosing a curriculum. And once you do select a curriculum, commit to sticking with it for a set period of time before deciding you don't like it. It can take time to figure out how to use a new homeschool curriculum.
If you are friends with any other homeschooling parents, ask if they are willing to lend or sell you their old curriculum for less money. And if you have kids who are at different ages, look for a good curriculum for multiple ages, as opposed to grade level-specific.
5. Look for Free Extracurricular Activities
For kids who are switching from public school to homeschooling, it can be disappointing to lose access to field trips with their friends. But there are ways you can re-create the field trip experience for your kids.
For instance, did you know that you can take a virtual tour of the White House, the International Space Station, and the Statue of Liberty? No, it's not the same as attending in person, but it's the next best thing, and it's free.
And depending on the state you live in; it may be possible to plan some socially distanced field trips. You may be able to attend your zoo, local museums, or other attractions for free or a reduced price. You may also want to consider checking out CityPass for some tour options in nearby cities. Though not free, you are able to bundle tours and you usually have a year to use the tickets.
6. See if Your State Offers a Tax Credit
At this time, the federal government doesn't offer tax credits to homeschooling families. But the following states do offer homeschooling credits:
- Illinois: Education Expense Credit
- Louisiana: School Expense Deduction
- Minnesota: K-12 Education Subtraction and Credit
If your state doesn't currently offer a tax credit, keep looking into this. If more families choose to move to a homeschooling model, this could change very quickly.
7. Partner With Other Parents
And finally, you can cut down on homeschooling costs by partnering with another homeschooling parent or joining a homeschool co-op. Many parents do this because they want to homeschool their kids and give their children a chance to socialize with other kids.
And joining a homeschooling co-op can be a great way to cut down on expenses, save money, and gain a support system during this challenging time.
Homeschooling will likely cost more than sending your kids to public school, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune. With a little planning, you can find ways to cut down on costs and find a homeschooling budget you're happy with.