Decided to homeschool but have a limited to zero budget? That's perfectly fine. You don't have to purchase a fancy curriculum or fancy supplies. Sure, those can be nice, but they're really not necessary for a quality education. All you need is the good old internet, the library, nature, and an open mind. I will show you how to use the above resources to your full advantage.
Utilize the Public Library
This is a very powerful resource if you take full advantage of all it has to offer. The most obvious resource a library has is the books. There are so many books with so much information in them waiting to be checked out and read. There are regular storybooks, reference books, books on many topics your kids will study, and some libraries even have textbooks.
But, what other resources does a library have?
All libraries will vary, but they usually have tapes, compact discs, and even VHS and DVD videos. Especially look for National Geographic videos when doing science lessons. You can also find how-to videos at most libraries that will be useful in a variety of different subjects.
Another good resource at a library is story-time. Although story-time is listed for younger ages, many elementary-aged children still enjoy it. Who doesn't enjoy listening to and acting out their favorite stories? There are also many free classes and workshops available at the library that can be very useful lessons. Some of the lessons I have seen include pottery making, drawing, American History, Ancient History, all about frogs, reading under the stars, and much more.
Just keep the librarians informed of what you are doing and what you need and they will help you. In fact, you will probably become good friends with the librarians because you will find yourself at the library often.
Take Advantage of Nature
Using nature to learn can be very effective as well as fun and exciting. Taking a simple nature walk can enrich the mind as well as the soul. Any park, zoo, or even your backyard or neighborhood field will do for a nature walk. See how many different animals and insects you can find. If you are studying leaves, collect and examine different types of leaves. Maybe you're studying mammals. See how many mammals your children can find and have them study their habits.
Whatever you're studying, be sure to observe it in it's natural state and bring home samples of it wherever possible. Nature holds an unlimited wealth of information. Be sure to use every opportunity nature gives you. Even if you come across something interesting that your child is not studying, it is still beneficial to take advantage of it.
Remember that nature does not always act in your favor, so if you see something you may be able to use later, study it as if you are learning about that subject. If you can, film it or at least document it in some other way (take pictures, write down everything, draw pictures, etc...). That way when you learn about it in more depth, you will have it to reference back to.
Peruse the Internet
There are many, many websites filled with the information you need. You don't have to be a pro to find it. Sure, it helps, but it isn't necessary. All you need is any search engine. I like to use a variety of search engines, to mix up the results a little. Some of the results will be the same, but some will not. Whatever you're looking for, think of the simplest way to word it and also in a way so you get more results.
Say you need an early fluency reading lesson. While early fluency is exactly what you want, sometimes words like this can give you results for items you'll have to pay for. Instead, try typing in "free reading lessons grade 1" or "free reading printables grade 1". Phrases like this produce the exact results you're looking for.
However, this can go both ways. Sometimes you do need to be very concise rather than wording it a certain way. Maybe your child is doing a research paper on Mary McLeod Bethune. You would just type in "Mary McLeod Bethune" because you want information on her. When you are just looking for information, type just the subject you're looking for so your info will be aplenty.
Another useful way the internet can help you is by networking. You can find lots of other homeschooling moms who are usually more than willing to share their ideas with you. Try searching homeschooling blogs, homeschooling forums, teacher forums, parenting forums, and even popular websites parents use that have their own forums.
Keep an open Mind
Sometimes life just throws learning opportunities at you. They may not always be the subjects your kids are learning at the time, but regardless, they are still important. Everything you say and do in daily life is a learning lesson. Don't underestimate the power of a grocery trip, a walk, a bike ride, a camping trip, a car ride, a talk during dinner, or any other daily activity.
Draw on life to teach your child new and exciting things daily. When your child asks a question, don't ever shrug off any question. No question is too big or too small. If you don't know the answer, look it up on the internet. you don't have to let your child know you don't know the answer. Just say something like, "That's a good question.Let's see what we can find about that." That way you don't sound unintelligent and your child still gets the answer.
Joining a homeschool group can also help. If your city doesn't have any, sometimes a city right outside your city can have one that would welcome you and your child. You'll probably learn so much teaching your child that you didn't learn in school. Homeschooling can do that to you.
Don't ever discount anything that can help your child learn. Some ideas people give you may seem outlandish at first, but as long as they don't harm anyone, most everything is worth a try. Your outlook on life will probably change a lot once you begin homeschooling. Who knows, you may even start your own homeschooling group.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network