Gas prices sky high. The economy worsening. Your family’s budget stretched to bursting. How you can afford to home educate your children? Here are some practical ways to cut costs and still operate an effective homeschool in the Columbus, Ohio, area.
- Buy used. HOTR (Home on the Rock) and CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) publish information about used book fairs on their websites. Try Amazon, ebay, and ChristianHomeschoolers.com for good deals. Some sites like vegsource.com and welltrainedmind.com post swap boards to facilitate trading or buying/selling materials.
- Use the library. The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has many resources available. If the nearest branch doesn’t have what you need, request it from another branch. They’ll bring it to your location—free!
- If you buy new, shop carefully. Rainbow Resource often has the best prices, but shipping can ruin your budget, so make a complete, one-time order. If your total is $50 or more, shipping is free. Some curriculum companies have free shipping months (often April).
Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities
- Join a homeschool group. Homeschool organizations provide lots of information about money-saving opportunities. Groups like HOTR and CHEO usually cost less than $50 per year but include a 10% discount to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Some, like HOTR, have small-group cooperatives meeting around the city. You usually pay a small fee for expenses but get a great return on your investment. You and your children get to socialize with other homeschooling families. Kids can take classes with other kids and different teachers. Group field trips provide discounted access to local attractions. You’ll likely learn about unexpected opportunities—like the mom who teaches piano cheap or the one who will tutor your child in math if you’ll tutor hers in Latin. You might even find someone willing to swap or lend curriculum.
- Take advantage of the free stuff. Many Columbus attractions are free or very inexpensive. And, of course, educational.
Columbus Free Stuff:
Slate Run Farm
Columbus Museum of Art (Sundays only)
Ohio Craft Museum
Thurber House (weekdays only)
Orton Geological Museum
Park of Roses
Columbus Parks and Recreation (costs $1 per badge per person)
Anthony Thomas Factory Tours ($2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-18), under 2 is free; admission fee may be used toward purchase)
- Ask for the educational or field trip rate. Just by filing a field trip form in advance and bringing your notification letter, your family can visit the Columbus Zoo for only $5 per person if you live in Franklin County ($7 if you live outside Franklin County). COSI offers an educator’s family membership for $95 per year. The Ohio Historical Society offers a family membership to educators for $50 annually that allows four adults and all family members under 18 to visit OHS’s 60 historic sites at no charge. Kelton House offers an Underground Railroad Learning Station Tour for $4 per student and a Kelton House Historic Tour for $2 per student. Columbus Children’s Theatre has discounted tickets in their Thrifty Thursdays plan. Catco is Kids (Phoenix Children’s Theatre) offers School Performance Matinees with tickets for $5.
- Use coupons. You can often find great deals on-line, in the phone book, or at travel plazas.
- Give useful gifts. Give your son karate lessons for Christmas. Ask Grandma to buy BalletMet tickets for your daughter’s birthday.
Don’t let today’s economy discourage you from home education. Columbus has so much to offer that you’ll find homeschooling on a shoestring is really no hardship at all.