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How Do You Afford to Homeschool a Large Family?

Spartacus the guinea pig and homeschooling adventures.

I get asked frequently how we can afford to homeschool our large family. I now have over 20 years of homeschooling under my belt. Our journey has been rocky and we faced challenges I never dreamed of, but here we are.

Cadets lined up at Washington State Patrol graduation.

My grown children have graduated from high school with AA degrees thanks to dual enrollment at our community college. Two have chosen to go on to four-year universities. One managed to graduate, pay off his student loans in only 7 months, and is now a Washington State Trooper. The other one is in his senior year, paying his way through. Two have moved to New Zeland and are now mothers, and one is 18 working full-time as a home care aid.

Real Life is School Education

Do not downplay the value of real life. For thousands of years, in cultures across the globe, children have learned from spending day after day with their parents, grandparents, or other adults, tagging along and learning the skills necessary to survive.

We have all read articles or seen the memes about “adulting” and how schools should teach kids about budgeting, doing taxes, and cooking. Being a homeschool mom gives you a golden opportunity, every day, to impart these skills to your children.

Never underestimate the value of life skills. Real life is education! The girls learning to use a laundromat.

Laundry is school (sorting, following directions, folding, putting away).

Grocery shopping is real life learning for our kids. Don't underestimate the value of these skills!

Grocery shopping is school (budgeting, planning, meal prep, social skills).

Hezekiah learns hard work by hauling wood for our woodstove.

Yard work, chores, board games, trips to the park, hikes, these are all learning experiences, and not just for younger kids.

Cooking: Math, Science, Culinary Arts, Geography, Social Studies, and Reading

Hezekiah and Tucker make pizza for chemistry and history class. Homeschooling high school.

Hezekiah, Tucker, and I are spending tons of time cooking this year. Not only do we use it for chemistry, but the kids are learning real skills. So far the boys have made countless loaves of bread (sourdough and regular), chocolate croissants, cube steak, Greek Salad, Greek chicken, pizza, and more. These two have more cooking skills than I had after a year of marriage.

You can read more about our current homeschool year with Hezekiah (15) and Tucker (14) here.

If I Only Had $100 to Homeschool Here’s What I’d Buy

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

How we afford to homeschool our large family.

Okay, I know you are here to learn the nitty-gritty details about how you can afford to homeschool.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

I have used this for all of my kids. Yes, it can be boring and tedious, but it gets the job done. I have never made it all the way this book…by the time my kids were three-quarters of the way through, my kids were reading independently and picking up books.

Also, I never did the handwriting or read the entire scripted lessons. In other words, I took the parts that I liked, and left the rest behind.

Story of the World & Story of the World Activity Book

Story of the World accidentally became the backbone of our entire homeschool. One of these days, I’ll post about that specifically, but just trust me when I say I wouldn’t want to homeschool without it.

Lyra Color Giants

These colored pencils are AMAZING! They are thick and sturdy, perfect for preschoolers. They are durable (we’ve had our single set for years) and the colors are vivid.

Faber Castell Colored Pencils

We have tried many different brands over the years and these are by far my favorite for older kids/teens/adults. They too are sturdy, have vivid colors, and don’t break easily.

Steel Blade Pencil Sharpener

Yup, a simple manual pencil sharpener. Make sure it is steel and these blades will last you a very long time.

You might notice the lack of math books. That’s because so much of early math can be done through life or books from the library. More advanced stuff can be done for free online.

All of this can be purchased for under $100! You can see them all in my Amazon Storefront here.

Close up of candy sushi. Fun projects like this enhance our homeschooling.

Using the Library Frequently Can Help You Afford to Homeschool

First of all, utilize your local library, that’s what it’s there for! Make it a habit to head to the library once a week and pick up new books. Most libraries have summer reading programs where kids can earn free books. Our library has activities every week. A quick glance at the calendar shows me this month they have weekly matinees for kids, Builders Club (kids can build with LEGO bricks), Small Looms Clinic for Weavers, Chair Tai Chi, Story Time, Baby Time, Tech Basics, Chair Yoga, Artist Workshop, and more. That is just a small sampling. All of these activities are FREE! Books and free activities make it easier to afford to homeschool.

Easy salmon patties will add flavor and fun to your specific northwest unit study. Making my own unit studies is one way we afford to homeschool our large family.

You can Afford to Homeschool When You Create Your Own Unit Studies

Unit Studies are so easy to make! In the most simple terms, all you need to do is choose a topic, grab a stack of books, and see where your imagination takes you. This can easily be done for FREE!

Let’s say your kid loves pigs. Search Pinterest for Pig crafts. Make Pigs in a Blanket. Read the Three Little Pigs. Write your own version of The Three Little Pigs. Learn about farms. The possibilities are literally endless. Once you get started, you will find you can go on as long as your child is interested in the topic.

Here you can read about a spontaneous unit study I threw together for Apollo when he was just seven. I also have a detailed post on How to Create Your Own Unity Study. And you can see our Taste of Japan unit study. All of these were either free or extremely cheap.

You can also find endless free (or cheap) unit studies on both Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.

Dust stirred up as boy catches baseball. PNW photographer.

Free Resources in Your Community Help You Afford to Homeschool

Large family pizza night...sharing the love at Pizza Hut. The FREE Pizza Hut Book-it program is a fun way to afford homeschooling.

Pizza Hut Book-It

Your kids can earn a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut simply be reading books.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading

Kids can earn free books by participating in the Barnes and Noble Summer reading.

Home Depot offers FREE Kids Workshops

Make a list and plan to visit every local park. Go on nature walks or hikes (yes, even if you live in the city).

Apollo hiking at Lake Whatcom. Hiking is free and a great way to help you afford to homeschool.

Start birdwatching and keep a record of every bird you see. You could do this with a book or two from the library and some internet resources.

Another PNW homeschooling adventure with friends.

A quick Google search lead me to these free activities in our community. No doubt your community has something similar.

How to Save Money on School Supplies

Back to school shopping at Fred Meyer means one stop shopping.

I have an entire post about how to save money on back-to-school supplies, but here it is in a nutshell. Stock up on paper, crayons, pencils, pens, glue, etc during the back-to-school sales. You can often get Crayola crayons for $0.25 a box, notebooks for $0.10. Most stores have a couple of loss leaders (products they sell dirt cheap to bring people in). Stock up on those, even if you need to go to a few different stores to get them.

Screen time as well as physical activity has to be limited after a concussion.

Free Online Homeschooling Resources

Easy Peasy Homeschool

I don’t have any experience with this myself but have heard from many people who use this program. This site has dozens of classes that can be taken for free.

Khan Academy

Hezekiah and Tucker are currently using Khan Academy for math. Once I got them set up, both chose to also take a coding class (all on their own). Recently at dinner, I asked the kids to share what their favorite subject in school was. Hezekiah said “Micro Economics”…turns out he’s also taking this class on Khan Academy…and I had no idea!

So there you have it, my top tips on how you can afford to homeschool a large family. I have spent very little money homeschooling Hezekiah and Tucker this year (mainly books I’ve ordered off of Amazon) and we are all loving it.

7 Comments

  1. Crystal in Lynden

    Well said Renee. I do wonder how we will work around the Purchase Order with Scouts next year. I haven’t got a clue.

  2. Steph B

    That sounds like a great program, and a wonderful way to supplement your home schooling. A little more work, with the trade off of receiving so many benefits. There’s no one way to home school. 🙂

  3. Liese4

    I have the same problem. We use a virtual school for the core of our HS’ing and though i say I’m a HS’er, we’re really public schoolers at home. Sigh.

  4. Jo

    Homeschool parents will agree/disagree with any available programs. We all should use what works for us, but I cant see this as a downfall to homeschool. This is a great program and I am glad to know it exists. I have often thought that a lot of great parents who could or do homeschool could use a little help. Public schools and the children in them are supplemented where needed, homeschooled families should be also if needed. The life that your children have is wonderful and its great that you have so many-their lives are richer for the many. I grew up in a moderately large family who homeschooled, and my mom would have been so grateful for a program that allowed more arts, languages and even tutoring for some children. Congrats to all the children on their testing!

  5. Julia

    Thank you for your honesty and putting yourself out there to possibly receive some more flack for the choice you have made for your family! It always amazes me just how zealous people can be in their positions! I really want to homeschool my kids, but know there is no way we can afford the curriculum for four kids on our own and especially with me getting out of the workforce. Thank you for sharing a way that can make it possible to homeschool for families like mine!

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