Starting home education can be daunting and one of the biggest fears for a lot of people is that they don’t have enough money to be able to educate their child themselves. Many families will find that they need to sacrifice an income to allow one parent to stay at home to take care of the children’s education. However, many single parents are happily home educating, and some couples find that both working part time and sharing the responsibility works well too. In terms of resources for learning, you can really spend as much or as little as you like (or need). Children learn all the time, given the right environment, it’s an inbuilt drive that is difficult to stop even if you tried! Whilst it’s true that you can spend a lot of money, there are also ways to minimise the cost.
Top Ten Money Saving Tips for Home Educators
1. Make use of your local library
Using the library guarantees a wide range of books for your children to read at any level. It’s also a lovely event to plan into the week and if you visit within school hours its usually very quiet, so your child can take their time choosing which books they would like to take home. You may also like to use this time this as an opportunity for your children to build a relationship with the librarians.
2. Use a toy library
Have you ever looked into whether your area has its own toy library? The idea is the same as a book library, just with toys! It’s a great way to keep costs down and ensure that your child has access to a variety of stimulating toys. Toy libraries are sometimes free, but usually you have to pay a small amount to register and/or borrow toys.
3. Print/make your own resources
With subscriptions such as Twinkl (which has a detailed, dedicated home education subcategory), you can download and print thousands of resources at home. Although it can take time, it can work out as a really cheap way to ensure you’re covering all the bases.
4. Buy toys and resources in charity shops or on Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is free to use, really convenient and is very active, so it can be a fantastic resource for buying second hand toys and resources. Whilst perusing charity shops might be more time consuming, its also possible to find some amazing resources and toys, whilst also benefiting a good cause.
5. Focus on experiences rather than material things
The things our children really remember are their experiences, and sometimes the simplest ones are the greatest. A whole day in the woods can provide deep and meaningful learning experiences and is totally free! Make a list of all the free trips you can do near your house and keep it for future reference.
6. Arrange swaps with other home educators or friends
Connect with other home educators online and see if anyone else would like to swap toys or resources. You might make new friends in the process.
7. Make use of home education discounts
Many attractions in the UK offer home education discounts, but they’re hardly ever publicised. Every time you buy a ticket, make sure to ask if they can give you any money off. Sometimes, they will ask for proof, this can be an email correspondence with the Elective Home Education team from your Local Authority, but sometimes even just showing you’re a member of home education Facebook Groups is enough.
8. Choose memberships wisely
Memberships to attractions can be pricey but if you choose well, they can work out to be very cost-effective. Choose places that you know you will go to often, your local petting farm, or zoo for example. The National Trust has hundreds of beautiful buildings and gardens to visit so that’s a great option if you have one close by or enjoy traveling a bit further afield. Ask ahead to see if there are any special offers (some zoos run in partnership with others, and in other places your normal entrance ticket is valid for a year) or home education discounts.
9. Take a packed lunch
Invest in (or ask for them for Christmas!) a set of really good lunchboxes, thermos flasks and a coffee cup, and you’ve got a cheap meal and a caffeine fix wherever you go. Eating at cafés, especially at tourist attractions really adds up, and you can save so much money by planning out what you’re going to take to eat.
10. Start slowly
This is the big one! There is no need to rush out to the shops and fill your house with learning resources. It’s easy to scroll social media and feel that you must have all the beautiful things the home ed influencers have, but remember that much of it can be replicated in cheaper ways with no detrimental effect on your child. Give yourself and your child a bit of time to ease in to home educating. You might find that your week is filled with social groups and you don’t have time to be at home, or you might end up educating in a different way than you expected. The best thing about home education is that there’s no rush, so a ‘wait and see’ approach works well here.