Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is to not buy any new curriculum for the first 6 months to a year of homeschooling. And I’ll tell your right now it’s tough but worth it. Take those first months to slowly slip into some gentle learning routines together, start reading aloud more, and work on the character and relationships you’ll need to all thrive as lifelong learners.
Once you’ve spent a few months reading and following rabbit trails together, you’ll see the learning styles of your kids and the style or philosophy of yourself as the teacher/mentor, and you’re ready to buy some curriculum. But go slowly! Even if you’re not on a budget it can be easy to pull the trigger on one curriculum and the next month you find something even better!
If you are already itching to get started on some more formal learning, or you’re just here because you need budget homeschooling suggestions, here is my list of 25 great Free or Cheap homeschooling resources. I’ve divided them up into all things free, inexpensive curriculum, and inexpensive supplies.
- Library – I am a firm believer that you can homeschool with just a library card. Even if your local library doesn’t have a great collection, they are always part of a larger library system and you can get other titles through Inter-Library Loan. Most libraries also use an app like Overdrive so you can get free access to ebooks and audiobooks from them too!
- Free or Cheap Ebooks – Using Amazon and the Kindle app you can have access to thousands of books at extremely reasonable prices or even for free. An additional benefit of Amazon Kindle books is once you have the ebook you can add the audio version on Audible for a steep discount too.
- The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts curriculums – My favorite! Open-and-go lessons, beautiful illustrations and uses wonderful, old living books. Broken down into Levels as they are slightly above grade level.
- FREE Custom Handwriting Practice Pages
- Curriculum Sharing – Many Social Studies type curricula are done on a rotational basis, so you can purchase the curriculum together with other local homeschooling parents and switch back and forth as needed. Alternatively, you can share teaching with a mama friend, playing up to each other’s strengths and interests!
- Easy Peasy Homeschool – Just a simple all-in-one FREE homeschool curriculum covering all grades and subjects. It is not my favorite in terms of scheduling or style, but many families use and love it!
- Khan Academy – FREE. We mostly use it for math, but it can be a great place to learn science, coding, history, humanities, and more. Apps are available for most platforms.
- Teaching Reading with BOB Books
- Focus on Core Phase/Character Development – If you are just starting or your children are young, who says you need to worry about any curriculum at all? Spend the first while doing a family reset, working on relationships, and building the character skills in your children that will make them passionate and independent learners down the road.
- Morning Time – I think morning time should be the most important time of your day. It is when you pour into your kids everything you think is important or beautiful in the world. It should include your core book, memorization, poetry, art or music, reading aloud, and anything else your heart desires. It’s a time for all ages and no forced participation. If you need some help getting started, Pam Barnhill has some great Morning Time Plans but also has a podcast where she talks about forming your own.
- Charlotte Mason-style Nature Study – I mentioned a nature study curriculum above, but you can also just get out there and start exploring. Take some pencils and inexpensive notebooks and start sketching what you see. Collect small items for a nature table, and check out how the trees or plants in your area change as the seasons change. Sit outside while you read aloud.
Inexpensive Curriculum and Resources
- Math Boardgames
- Exploring Nature with Children –
- Peaceful Press curriculum – All of the curricula can be used for ages 6 to 12 (except the Preschool one, which is obviously for younger children). We are doing the Playful Pioneers curriculum in our homeschool this year (it is based around the Little House on the Prairie books as a central read-aloud. We are also using Peaceful Preschool with the two younger kids as their interest allows.
- This Week in History
- Math Lessons for a Living Education – A complete, curriculum for only $30 (INR 2400) per level, and my kids love hearing the stories. You can even buy it in pdf form and print it yourself at home (a good option if you will be moving multiple kids through it, concurrently or one at a time). They have recently released some Language Arts curricula that might be worth checking out, but we’ve never used them so I can’t say much about them.
- All Around the Ancient World Unit Study and Cookbook – Ancient History survey using living books and read aloud. A gentle way to introduce the history, and for a very budget-friendly price!
- Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Inexpensive Homeschool Supplies
- Cheap Printer and Ink – We’ve gone through a few printers around here (it’s always print head issues), so we’ve perfected the printer purchase. Look for ones under INR 10,000, with great reviews, and which have the cheapest ink possible! For a little bit more, this Canon Printer does everything needed and the ink is cheap too! which offsets the long-term cost of the printer. If you can wait, you can one in a sale around the corner.
- Laminator and pouches – Beyond the upfront cost, having a laminator on hand allows you to create permanent resources that can be reused over and over.
- Buy Books Secondhand – I am always on a budget for books; sometimes it’s just meant I budget less per book so I can get more! I have gotten almost all of our books from thrift stores, library sales, and yard sales. The gaps have been filled in with Amazon books using coupon codes.
- Gift Books and Experiences (Field Trips!) for Holi and Deepawali – In the past few years we have moved away from giving toys as gifts, and instead gift our children with new books, board games, or experiences. Sometimes it is big vacations way, but other times it has season passes to zoos or amusement parks. A set of passes to a Children’s Museum or Science Center would make for an exciting and educational gift!
- IKEA – Just google ‘IKEA homeschool room’ or ‘IKEA homeschool’ and you’ll find a treasure trove of ideas for how to use the items you can find at IKEA for organizing and beautifying your homeschool area while still keeping to a budget.
- TJEd – Last, but not least! TJEd (short for Thomas Jefferson Education) is a philosophy, not a curriculum, and it is all about developing a love of learning in our children, and helping them get the education “to match their mission”. It is the perfect thing to look into if you want to start creating a home culture of learning while on a budget, or without a lot of financial investment. You’ll learn that the best homeschools look a LOT more like a home than a school.