How to Pick Homeschool Curriculum on a Budget

Like anything else, homeschooling can get quite expensive if you are not careful. I am a sucker for new curriculum. I’m a sucker for books in general- especially a book that I believe will solve all my homeschooling woes.

In the search for a perfect curriculum, money can vanish in an instant. And you can easily be left blowing your budget on stuff you have no use for.

Here are a few tips to think about when picking out your curriculum:

    1. Find your style. Charlotte Mason, Classical, unit studies, traditional, multi-sensory, relaxed schooling, spiral, master based etc. These and more are different approaches, styles of learning and flavors of homeschool. Do you like mastery-based math or spiral method? Textbooks or living books? Hands-on or independent teaching? Make sure you find something that your child can relate to but also you as a mother and educator can equally enjoy implementing. Finding your style will help narrow down what kinds of curriculum to look for. There have been times where I loved the look and style of a curriculum but my daughter was just not understanding it. Or vise versa, where my daughter would absolutely love something that I felt like was bothersome just getting it out. This step does take some practice. Knowing what you like and don’t like takes trial and error.
    2. Read reviews. Cathyduffyreviews.com is truly a blessing. Ms. Duffy writes very clear and detailed reviews on hundreds of curricula. She even has the prices laid out for you and where to purchase.  There are also a plethora of videos on YouTube.com. One of my favorite is JustSewTrish. She is a homeschool mom with 6 kiddos who has a library of curricula she has used. She shares her likes and dislikes and her struggles and successes.
    3. Find examples. There are plenty of websites that will give you a sneak peak of what’s inside. I don’t ever buy anything unless I know what an average lesson looks like. You can also google image a curriculum and sometimes find examples that way too. And of course…there is YouTube. What would I do without YouTube?book-education-graphing-paper-167682
    4. Buy used or an older edition. This is one of my most important tips. If you can, buy used with non-consumables! You will spend a fraction of the cost. This goes for older editions as well. If a curriculum company comes out with new editions, the older ones are not as popular so therefore, cheaper. 90% of the time there are only a few minor changes. I found a used Saxon 5/4 Second Edition textbook for $2.19! New and updated versions are well over $60. You all, math is math. Don’t get caught up in the new and improved. This brings us to our next tip.blur-bookcase-books-375892
    5.  Always be on the hunt for a great deal. Just like grocery shopping, bargains come in surprising places. I have found great books I can incorporate in my homeschooling lessons in places like garage sales, Dollar Tree, free bins and the grocery store. Some of my favorite workbooks I found were at Costco!
    6. Borrow. Ask other homeschool moms if they have the curriculum you are looking for. You would be surprised what others might have. It really stinks to research something that I think I will love only to bring it home and hate it. Ask others if you can borrow a few different things. Maybe even try something you would never pick out otherwise. You may shock yourself that you take a liking to it.
    7. Re-purpose what you already have. I said buy used was my #1 tip but I think this one is. Just because you don’t like a curriculum doesn’t mean it’s useless. I tried Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my oldest daughter. I did exactly what it said to do. We lasted up to lesson 6. I swore I would never use that book ever again. However, when it was time for child #2 to read, I picked it back up and loosely used the script. I even used the letter sounds and words to make up games. (She is very multi-sensory.) It has been so great! I can’t believe I was about to give this book away! Customize material to your child. Or just use it as a guide for your own reference. The curriculum police will not show up at your door if you don’t use the material exactly like it’s written. I promise.adult-blur-books-261909
    8. Understand there is no such thing as a perfect curriculum. It took me awhile to realize this. No matter how amazing something is, I will never stick to it 100%. The most perfect curriculum is one that you customize to your family, beliefs, goals, personality and lifestyle. Everyone is different. Every child is different. There is no magical curriculum.
    9. Don’t disregard material just because it’s free. There is nothing wrong with finding free math worksheets and using them as your sole curriculum. Nor any other subject for that matter. I have found great free unit studies, worksheets, games and such online completely free and most of the time, they are better than the books I buy. Just because it’s free doesn’t equate to a mediocre education.

I hope this helps. What are some great deals you have found? Feel free to leave a comment on your own homeschooling budgeting tips! 

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