Whether you’re struggling financially or you have no money worries at all, no one wants to throw away money, and that can be terribly easy to do when you’re homeschooling—especially when you’re starting out. Every time you turn around there is someone offering you the perfect curriculum/manipulative/organizational plan that will solve all your problems—for a price. And you know what? Those things are tempting. You see all the bright colors and nifty fonts and nice, neat time slots and you can almost smell the juice dripping from the proverbial apple. Yes, some of the products are good. Really most of them are good for someone, but not necessarily for you, and not necessarily for all of your children, either. I think the best money I’ve spent so far on our homeschool journey would be the money for books and memberships.
It’s hard to go wrong with books. By books, I mean good books. Living books. Books that invite you in and then make it hard to leave when it’s time to set the table for dinner or go to bed. If you read to your child from good books when they’re young, you will be amazed at how much they will learn. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever sparks their interest, read it (to them or with them, if they need help) and sit back and watch what happens. Amazon may or may not be my (not-so-secret) addiction, but the library is free, so if you can manage to get your materials back on time, you don’t have to spend a thing!
Memberships obviously do have a cost, but if you get a membership to the right place, it can be invaluable. Zoo memberships have given us great field trips on animals and geography. We visit our art museum at least once a month when we do artist studies, but we’ve also spent time learning about nature there, too. Kids (and adults) of all ages can find something fun and interesting at most sites. As you get to know these places, you can find more and more ways to tie visits in with your curriculum, and your kids will love going to “their” museum! As an added bonus, many places offer special classes for members and sometimes even for homeschoolers. When you visit a place multiple times, memberships are definitely a smart financial decision, especially if you watch for special membership deals that many venues offer.
If you’re really watching your budget when planning for the upcoming year, take the time to see what’s available at your library or at museums around town. For a few dollars per person you can create learning experiences your kids will remember forever!