This post is about homeschooling on a low budget.
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
It includes a sample schedule and suggests one stellar book that costs no more than $20 for the entire school year. Plus, you can use this same $20 book over and over again for subsequent children.
Most importantly, this post includes a FREE overview for each book–Grades K-3rd. 4th and 5th Grade overviews are coming soon!) The overview shows you which pages to cover each week for the entire school year AND includes my popular easy and on-going spelling strategy.
This strategy is the most effective spelling strategy I’ve seen or used in my 20+ years of teaching hundreds of students from all walks of life and language. It’s also the fastest, most comfortable way to teach a child how to read and write confidently, in my opinion.
During Covid-19 Quarantine, more parents are trying it and liking it. They’re seeing progress in their children and surprised that their children don’t squawk about writing!
Alright, let’s learn one way to home school on a low budget!
Homeschooling on a Low Budget
There are, what feels like, an infinite number of ways to home school. The key is finding what works best for you and your family. In this post, I’m going to explain what we do. Again, this is one option for you to take, leave or tweak according to your needs.
You Don’t Need a Curriculum
Let me tell you up front, there’s A LOT of home school material out there that is NOT CHEAP. Emotion can easily take over and suddenly your convinced that you need to buy this and that and that to give your child the best education. I’m here to tell you that right now, for these primitive years of K-5, you don’t need to spend much money at all. Many families are homeschooling on a low budget.
In fact, a good friend of mine decided to put her children in public school this past year. She couldn’t BELIEVE the expenses that came up throughout the school year, fundraiser for this, celebrations for that, field trips, parties, driving here, driving there….she had a hard time keeping up and openly admitted that homeschooling was definitely less expensive for her.
So, how can you begin homeschooling on a low budget?
What Should We Teach?
My oldest child entered Kindergarten fall of 2017 so for all of 2016-2017, I was really weighing heavily, whether or not I should home school.
One thing that I kept getting hung up on, was “What do I teach?” That might sound funny coming from a licensed school teacher. But, I honestly wasn’t sure where to start. I conversed with several veteran home school moms who directed me to various curriculum like, Sonlight, Abeka and Classical Conversations. I found these to be great options, but saw quickly that they were a bit costly. In fact, I plan to revisit these sites for middle school and high school when the time comes.
Perhaps the Cheapest Way to Teach Reading
As I perused various programs, I kept thinking about the fact that I felt confident in teaching my children how to read and write without a curriculum. In fact, I address these steps in my posts:
- Drawing With Your Children Has Long Term Benefits
- 15 Easy and Effective Ways to Use Stickers
- Help Children Learn to Write: 10 Strategic Steps
- An Easy and On-Going Spelling Strategy
- Learn to Read by Writing
I’m actually working on a step by step, page by page PDF that incorporates all 5 articles. Parents (and teachers) will be able to follow each step to teach their child how to read and write independently and confidently.
Now, back to curriculum. Aside from teaching my children how to read, write and do math, I really wasn’t sure what to teach! So, one day, I mentioned this to a mom of 5 who had home schooled her children through Middle School. I blatantly asked, if I homeschool, “What exactly do I teach?”
She answered by introducing me to the book called:
Everything Your Kindergartner Needs to Know* by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
The book only cost about $15 (vs. several hundred for a full curriculum) so I gave it a whirl and bought the book.
A Perfect Fit!
This book series, my friends, has been the perfect fit for our family! They also have the books titled:
Using these books has worked well for our family for two reasons. One, I don’t spend much money at all each year on material. I have one Kindergarten book and use the same book for each child. The same goes for the 1st-5th books. I only need to buy the book one time and can reuse it year after year. This enables us to continue homeschooling on a low budget!
Second, the amount of material is just right, not too little and not overwhelmingly too much.
In addition to using the the E.D. Hirsch Jr. books, I use the following free materials.
Spelling and Writing
My children work through this easy and on-going spelling strategy that I created. They actually learned to read by writing these sentences. If you have any questions about this strategy, simply subscribe and hit reply to my welcome email. I’m happy to respond and answer!
Secondly, I print FREE writing sheets from Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool. Use these links to print your own set:
Free Writing Worksheets
- 1st Grade Writing (Or, purchase the complete workbook.)
- 2nd Grade Writing (Or, purchase the complete workbook.)
- 3rd Grade Writing (Or, purchase the complete workbook.)
- 4th Grade Writing (Or, purchase the complete workbook.)
- 5th Grade Writing (Or, purchase the complete workbook.)
I print these pages out at the beginning of the school year and put them in a manila folder or binder. I take one page out each day for my children to complete during independent work time. If I see that they’re going to need help on a specific page, they complete it during their learning time with me at the kitchen table (This is noted in our sample work schedule below.)
Third, on Friday, they complete a guided writing lesson (in place of spelling sentences or writing pages). This is where all of your children can complete the same writing lesson at the same time. My article titled: Guided Writing Lessons for Grades K-5 explains this method of teaching writing in detail.
We complete E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s Literature pages. (I read these stories TO my kids for enjoyment). My kids read their spelling sentences and eventually books at their level to me.
Our house is always full of library books, yard sale books, grandparent books etc. for the kids to enjoy.
Additionally, my children begin using the website, www.starfall.com, at age 4 for basic phonics and reading skills. They continue to use it through 1st Grade.
Beginning in 2nd Grade, I highly recommend: Scholastic Success with Reading Comprehension books. (Just $5 each!) They have a book for each Grade.
Over the course of the week we complete E.D.Hirsch Jr.’s Math pages as well as Math sheets from Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool. Use these links to print your own set of Math worksheets:
Free Math Worksheets
- 1st Grade Math (Or, you can purchase the workbook.)
- 2nd Grade Math (Or, you can purchase the workbook.)
- 3rd Grade Math (Or, you can purchase the workbook.)
- 4th Grade Math (Or, you can purchase the workbook.)
- Combined 5th/6th Grade Math only comes as a workbook.
- Combined 6th/7th Grade Math only comes as a workbook.
- Pre-Algebra only comes as a workbook.
Just like writing, I print these pages out at the beginning of the school year and put them in a manila folder or binder. I take one page out each day for my children to complete during independent work time. If I see that they’re going to need help on a specific page, I will have them complete it during their learning time with me.
To practice math facts, I use flash cards and time my kids each month. Their goal is to beat their time from the month before. This is a fun little gig that we do.
We complete E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s History and Science portion of the book. Within the book, Hirsch Jr. suggests additional activities that we do.
It’s important to note that we only work on one subject (History or Science) at a time. The overview that I type up and attach below, covers Science for a few weeks, then History and back to Science. Once we’re done with History and Science we work through the Art and Music portions of the book.
Documentaries and Short Videos
Finally, we watch documentaries found on Youtube, Netflix or Amazon Prime that correspond with the History and Science lessons that they’re learning each week. We especially love videos from Blue Planet II and National Geographic.
Simple Science Experiments
If there’s time, we love to complete super simple science experiments found at Little Bins for Little Hands.
We didn’t have time to complete these free worksheets in Grades K-2, but I’m including them here in case your children need additional work/activities. We will use them in Grades 3-5. They all come from the website: Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool
Free History Worksheets
Free Science Worksheets
We complete the E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s Art and Music pages and complete most of the suggested activities.
Our PE time is mostly exercise and outdoor play. Sometimes the kids play independently outside while I tend to a baby, cook or cleanup. Other times, I’m able to play catch, soccer, basketball etc. with them. We often go on walks, jogs and bike rides too.
There are a handful of Health/PE videos on the website Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool. I started showing them in 2nd Grade.
Also, there’s GoNoodle! After reading the original version of this article, a good friend of mine sent me an email and told me about GoNoodle. She informed me that schools use it for indoor recesses. My family will definitely be turning to GoNoodle this fall!
Lastly, here’s an exercise video that the I play (and do) a lot. Haha! Sometimes the kids do the video with me, but most times they just watch or play. This exercise video includes squats, kicks, jumping jacks, punches, push ups, jumps….I just love it! Meanwhile, my kids are exposed to easy and effective ways to strengthen their own bodies. Bottom line, it’s my (Mama’s) quick go to video when I need to exercise and there’s no other way to get it done.
In Kindergarten we allow the children to free type words on the computer using Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
End of Year Assessment
Then, at the end of each school year, I purchase an End of Grade assessment from Christian Liberty Press for each child to complete and have on record.
Putting It All Together
The E.D. Hirsch Jr. book is our primary guide for homeschooling on a low budget. It shows us major subjects to teach. In order to cover everything, I created this school schedule for our family to follow. Then, I took the scheduled content from the overview (below) and plugged it into the schedule for each day.
Daily Schedule to Follow
Overviews by Grade
I typed up an overview for each E.D. Hirsch Jr. book (Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade…books). The overview tells which pages of the book to complete each week. We work week by week more than day by day. Our goal is to complete scheduled content over the course of one week.
That way when doctor’s appointments, family outings or a fussy child interrupts our day, we can make up for missed content in the late afternoons, evenings or over the weekends.
Now for the overviews for you to print and use!
4th GRADE–coming soon!
5th GRADE–coming soon!
General School Materials:
In terms of working materials, we always have the following on hand:
- copy paper (new and used-we draw/write on unused sides)
- glue sticks
- Elmer’s glue
- acrylic paints (50 cents for each color at Walmart)
- paint brushes
- binders (to store drawings and writing work)
- plastic page protectors (optional and cheapest at Walmart)
- stickers (optional)
- old calendar pictures (optional)
- small whiteboard, dry erase markers, socks to erase (optional)
- construction paper (optional)
- Googly Eyes* (optional)
Lastly, if you’re interested in attending a Home-school Co-op while homeschooling on a low budget, there are many all across the nation. A few things to consider if you’re looking for a co-op.
Classical Conversations has a great reputation. However, it’s important to know that they are a bit costly and you have to stay and participate along with your child.
Co-Ops with Local Certified Teachers
Local co-ops typically range from $500-800 per child per school year. The advantages are that they hire licensed teachers and you can drop your children off, giving you a break.
Local Parent Run Co-Ops
Parent run co-ops are usually run by homeschooling parents and honestly are the best option if you are homeschooling on a low budget. They are very affordable. They generally cost around $35 for the entire family per semester. The condition is that you, as a parent, have to teach a class and/or help out with child care.
Honestly, there are so many ways to home school. I hope this post was helpful to you, especially those families looking for others who are homeschooling on a low budget!
Again, if you have questions, simply subscribe to my FREE newsletter. Reply to my welcome email and I can help you from there!