Learn how to find homeschool materials that are affordable or even free.
Get detailed ways to find all that you need for your homeschool when you have a tiny budget and feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities.
Looking for affordable homeschool materials can be so discouraging when you’re broke and don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on your homeschool.
But, there’s hope because you can spend as much or as little as you want or need to on homeschooling without sacrificing your child’s education.
The amount you spend DOES NOT equate in any way to the quality of your family’s homeschool education.
And whether you are a new homeschooler due to the pandemic or you’ve been doing this homeschool gig for several trips around the sun…every one of us could use a few extra dollars in our bank account, am I right?
As a single-income family with six children, we’ve needed to find ways to save as much money on homeschooling materials as we possibly could. I’m going to share with you the process I’ve used for the last 20 years for finding the least expensive homeschool materials.
But first, you’ll need to know what you need. If you aren’t sure yet what you are looking for, read this post to help you decide:
Get detailed step-by-step instructions in Choosing Homeschool Materials on a Tight Budget.
Then come back here to learn how you can hunt down the least expensive options. 😃
Where to Find the Best Deals on Homeschool Materials
Think Outside the Homeschool Materials Box
The amount of time needed upfront with selecting a homeschool curriculum is inversely related to how much it costs. For example, a boxed curriculum like Abeka, BJU, Sonlight, or BookShark doesn’t take a ton of planning ahead of time (they are mostly open the box and go) but they are very expensive, especially when buying brand new. However, if you choose to go with a more eclectic style like Charlotte Mason with unit studies and notebooking you’ll spend a lot less money, but more time researching and finding materials.
Digital Curriculum Bundles
Digital curriculum bundle sales are fantastic ways to build your library of materials to use this year and in the future. They are typically only offered at select times each year, so you have to watch for them. You can usually find them in the summer for “Back-to-School”.
Trading with a Friend
My sister’s kids are pretty close in age to my oldest three and they also homeschool. Since we shared the same homeschooling philosophies, we would trade an entire year’s worth of curriculum back and forth, depending on who needed it that year. We wrote our names in our books, then when we finished with it for good, that family got it back to sell it. You could also trade with a local friend, just be sure to return the books when you are finished in order to stay in your friend’s good graces. ❤️
Buy & Sell Facebook Groups
You can search Facebook Groups for a particular brand (for example, Sonlight or Abeka) where the group only allows used copies of that brand to be sold.
Here are some of the more popular Facebook groups for inexpensive homeschool materials.
Local Homeschool Curriculum Sales
Scout out your local homeschool curriculum sales. This is the best place to score used curriculum because you don’t have to pay shipping costs! I’ve found that oftentimes homeschool moms will give away older editions that are still good, it’s just that a newer and prettier edition was released. Actually, two of the last three local curriculum sales that I attended had several moms that were done homeschooling and were giving away all of their books and materials, just to get it out of their house!!
However, if you live in a very rural area or can’t get to a local sale, you can check out classified ad homeschool material sites:
Oklahoma Book Shack is a non-profit that will send your requested materials for the price of shipping. They mostly carry Christian resources.
Collect Freebies as a Whole Child Homeschool Tribe Member
When you are a member of the Whole Child Homeschool Tribe, you have unlimited access to the Free Resource Library where all of the printables are stored! Plus Tribe Member-only printables are often shared in our e-mails and in the Whole Family Homeschool Facebook Group.
Many other homeschool mom bloggers offer freebies as well! Facebook groups that allow bloggers to share free digital homeschooling materials (like Homeschool for Free and Homeschool Printables for Free) are wonderful for finding freebies!
Use the Power of Video
Movies are popular and powerful because they cause the viewer to feel emotions that they will remember along with the plot. Films set in the past can help students better understand how people lived, what they wore, and how they spoke during that time period. Learn more about using movies in your homeschool in this Study American History with Movies post and get extensive lists of vetted movies for your teens.
YouTube and Amazon Prime are virtual treasure troves of documentaries and non-fiction learning videos. Just make sure to vet the sources first to ensure that they are not extremely biased or inaccurate.
Some of our favorite YouTubers:
Jack Hartmann for your little ones
Make Your Library Card Work for You
Obviously, the library is the best place to get free books to use in your homeschool. But are you taking advantage of ALL that your library offers?
Just a few of the extras that my library offers is InterLibrary Loan (ILL); free subscriptions to Hoopla, CreativeBug, FreeGal, OverDrive, and Kanopy, plus online encyclopedias, geography, and history databases; in-person classes and programs like STEM classes and orchestra petting zoo; plus audio and e-books; play and educational themed kits.
Supplement with Virtual Classes
I don’t think that having 100% of your schooling online is healthy or helpful for any student. But taking the occasional online class can be beneficial, especially for high school level classes.
Sometimes individuals will offer a class through Zoom or Google Classrooms for a small fee. For example, my son took an online English class that was advertised in a regional Facebook group and it was extremely reasonably priced and it helped to have someone other than “mom” grade his papers.
There are also some larger sites that offer virtual classes online.
- Virtual Homeschool Group (VHSG) offers live and At-Your-Own-Pace classes (they ask for donations to pay for their servers)
- Kahn Academy
- MIT OpenSource classes (High School)
Join or Lead a Local Co-op Class
Find out what local co-op classes are available in your area. If you’re looking for a particular class and can’t find it; consider leading it yourself. I offered an American History through Film class one year and the tuition fees that I charged paid for all of the class materials.
Other, less conventional places to look for local classes that are very low-cost:
Look for Digital or Reusable Homeschool Materials
I recommend that you buy digital or reusable when you can (instead of a consumable product) if you’ll have more than one kid using it over the years. If it’s a non-consumable product, then I recommend buying a hard copy instead of a digital copy so that you can re-sell it when your family is finished with it. Most copyrights prohibit the transfer of digital products.
Discounted Homeschool Materials Websites
Rainbow Resource This is where I shop when I can’t find the homeschool materials that I’m looking for used. They also usually have the best prices on consumable workbooks. If you don’t have a large enough order to get free shipping, consider ordering with a nearby friend to meet the minimum.
Christian Books Click on the “Homeschool” section. They sometimes have extra discounts on less than perfect copies, too. This site is very competitive, price-wise, wise Rainbow Resource.
Exodus Books This site offers new and used homeschool materials.
Abe Books (best for out of print or hard to find books)
And don’t forget to look for used books on Amazon!
What Do I Do Now That I’ve Chosen and Bought All of My Materials?
Now that you’ve chosen and purchased your homeschool materials for the year, do yourself a favor and finish planning out your year. (I PROMISE it really will reduce your stress later on! 😃)
Yes, I know that sounds crazy to plan out a year at a time!
Just trust me, this system works!! And you don’t have to reschedule EVERYTHING anytime and every time something throws a kink in your homeschool week–because LIFE HAPPENS! PLUS the plans double as a record of what you’ve done during the year.