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6 Ways to Create a Home Preschool on a Budget

  March 11

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Our daughter just turned four years old in October. In most families, that means sending your little one off to preschool with their first backpack full of crayons, glue, sanitizer, and tissues. http://catherinealford.com/2015/03/11/6-ways-to-create-a-home-preschool-on-a-budget/Today’s post is from a college friend of mine who also happens to be one of my lovely coaching students, for this round! Her name is Kristi. She has a baby boy just a month older than the Beans, and is awesome at cooking, organizing, writing, being frugal, etc.

I think you’ll love her. Enjoy!

Our daughter just turned four years old in October. In most families, that means sending your little one off to preschool with their first backpack full of crayons, glue, sanitizer, and tissues. Up until our family had to relocate for my husband’s job this past summer, my intentions were to send our daughter to either the local YMCA preschool or apply for a scholarship to the local Catholic school.

Moving to a small town in the country abruptly changed our schooling plans. Living on a single income, yet above poverty level, we found ourselves in a preschool limbo where we don’t qualify for most income based programs. We also cannot afford private school tuition. There is no public preschool and our YMCA does not offer a preschool. For these reasons, homeschooling is the best, and quite frankly, the only option for our daughter for preschool at this time.

Having earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from an excellent school, I wasn’t worried at all about being able to teach my daughter. I was concerned, however, with figuring out which curriculum to use. Should I use a curriculum at all? Should I unschool? Join a co-op?

Diving headfirst into the world of homeschooling options can be a bit overwhelming. I felt as though I would forever mar my daughter’s future academic career if I didn’t pick the right curriculum and give her a solid start to her education.

Another major concern was cost. Not only did I need to figure out how to educate our daughter, but I needed to do it on a budget. Rest assured, if you find yourself in the same position as our family, there are inexpensive homeschool options, especially for preschool. You don’t even need to purchase a curriculum at all.

Utilize the Local Library

library

Take weekly trips to the library, and let your child pick out a great big stack of any and all books that interest them. Talk to your librarian and ask what programs your branch may be involved in for preschoolers. Most libraries have story time and craft time that goes along with a book each week. These events are a great way to meet some other homeschoolers in your area. Our library also has a “1000 Books before Kindergarten” program. After each 100 books, our daughter turns in her book list and she gets to pick a brand new book out of a prize box to take home and keep. So far, by reading 2-5 books a night, we have read 500 books with her.

Workbooks

workbooks

This is a picture of our preschool “curriculum.” We bought a few preschool work books off of Amazon.com for about $5.00 each. Also, I was delighted to realize that our local dollar store carries Sesame Street brand work books for preschoolers. I have also had great luck finding beginner reader books at thrift stores, garage sales, and friends of the library book sales. The red Big Preschool Workbook has been the most expensive book so far. We picked it up at Walmart for $9.97.

Use Subscriptions to Online Preschool Programs

For Christmas, a family member gifted us a subscriptions to ABCmouse and Starfall. I love these programs as supplementary learning programs to go along with physical workbooks and worksheets. Our daughter will independently play on these programs for hours and hours if we let her. We were blessed to be gifted these great learning tools, but the cost is not exorbitant if you need to purchase them yourself. They are well worth the money, in my opinion.

Netflix and Amazon Prime

If you have subscription to these streaming services, you can find all kids of kids’ learning programs. Our daughter loves to watch the Leap Frog brand movies on Netflix. Phonics Farm and Number Land are her two favorites. On Amazon Prime she loves watching Curious George and Blue’s Clues. You can turn any cartoon into a lesson by incorporating a craft or story afterwards.

Create a Homeschool Corner with Free or Cheap Furniture

homeschoolcorner

This is one wall of our den, where we typically work on preschool. The white cabinet on the left holds all of our homeschooling and crafting supplies. We got it for free off of Craigslist. The book shelf on the right holds every single children’s book we own. I got the book shelf for $3.00. There is nothing wrong with either piece of furniture. Both previous owners just wanted to be rid of them, and I lucked out by being in the right place at the right time. Most of those books were also picked up at various thrift stores and yard sales. A good estimate would be that 80% of our kid books cost between $0.25 and $1.00. Keep a keen eye out on the free section of craigslist, and drive around on a Saturday in the summertime. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Free Pinterest Printouts

If you feel like your workbooks are lacking a particular subject matter, or you just want to give your child extra practice, Pinterest is a gold mine for free homeschooling worksheets, activities, and printouts. I use Pinterest for printing out free letter and number tracing worksheets, craft ideas, and science experiment directions. Simply type preschool, homeschool, printables, and letter and number tracing into the search bar. You will be inundated with free resources you can use for homeschooling. Here are just a few of my favorite websites I have found off of Pinterest that are so useful in homeschooling.

All in all we have probably spent a grand total of $50 on supplies to homeschool our four year old. The most expensive thing I have purchased to date was a set of 100 plastic manipulatives for math practice, which dented the bank account about $15.

At first I felt daunted by the prospect of overseeing my daughter’s education. Now though, I love getting to work with her. I feel so much pride in her as she learns something new. I love that we get to bond while reading books while snuggled on the couch under a blanket. I love that I don’t have to send her off to someone else for seven hours a day. I get to savor every moment with her.

I love most that I can turn daily life and the things that she loves the most into school projects. I learned very quickly that preschool can be as simple as going for a walk having my daughter count how many flowers she can find. Or I can ask her, “What letters are on that sign? Let’s sound it out together.” If you engage in the world around them and make every moment a teaching opportunity, you will never have to worry about not purchasing that fancy expensive curriculum.

Kristi Muse is a freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and mom to two beautiful children. She loves homeschooling, organic gardening, sustainable living, and cooking from scratch. For more information on how to hire Kristi to write for your blog, please visit her hire me page.

Our daughter just turned four years old in October. In most families, that means sending your little one off to preschool with their first backpack full of crayons, glue, sanitizer, and tissues. http://catherinealford.com/2015/03/11/6-ways-to-create-a-home-preschool-on-a-budget/

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20 responses to “6 Ways to Create a Home Preschool on a Budget

  1. The library is a good idea, they generally have a lot of good programming too. Even the playground could be useful. I know that a lot of preschool is just about learning how to be social and interact with other children. Learning concepts like sharing.

    1. The playground is a fantastic place to meet other kids and get some socializing in. We love going for walks to the park. We are also very lucky that there is a home school co-op in our area that we are going to get involved with next year.

  2. What creative ideas, Kristi! My daughter isn’t a year old yet so we aren’t doing any homeschooling right now, but we do utilize our library a lot – especially the free storytime. They have several storytime programs, including one just for infant who don’t walk yet, which is perfect for us. Libraries are such a wonderful place! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Christina! Even though your daughter is still young, you have an amazing opportunity to start stockpiling. Knowing in advance that you want to home school means that you will have ample time to find the best deals on supplies!

  3. Great ideas Kristi! My mom always went to the teachers store and did some summer homeschool sessions with my sisters and me when we were younger and it helped out a lot. Now, I always visit the children’s section of the local library for some cool finds and I’m doing a ton of workbooks with my son to get him ready for kindergarten in the fall and he loves it. We also tried out ABC Mouse but it just wasn’t for him. There’s just so many helpful tools and resources out there though parents are bound to find something that works for their kids.

    1. You are so right, Chonce! There are so many different programs, curriculums, and resources to choose from. It’s always best to choose what works the best for your family, your budget, and your child’s interests.

  4. I love this, because it’s exactly what we’re doing! I also have a daughter about to turn 4. Unfortunately, the preschool programs in our area just weren’t within reach this year, financially speaking, so we decided to do our own thing. She goes to a free weekly preschool class at our local library, we have plenty of workbooks and flashcards that we use, and we just signed up for ABCMouse, which she loves. Parents should not feel bad if they can’t do the whole traditional preschool thing, because there are so many ways to cobble together your own program. It’s so important to do today, too, since kids need to know the basics before they enter kindergarten. Excellent post!

    1. I hear you, Lauren. The only private preschool in our area costs a very pretty penny. I hope that every parent, whether working, staying at home, or working from home, know that they can prepare their kids for kindergarten without breaking the bank. It really is as easy as spending the time to read to them and engaging with them.

  5. Great post, Kristi! I homeschooled my children in their early years prior to all the great resources that are now available on the internet. As a stay at home mom, I loved the time we spent bonding and learning together. We spent many a day at our public library reading on our own and utilizing all the great programs that were available. You are right when you said that you can turn daily life and the things that your daughter loves the most into school projects and If you engage in the world around them and make every moment a teaching opportunity, you will never have to worry about not purchasing that fancy expensive curriculum. My most treasured accomplishment was teaching my children to read. I used the book Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Keep up the great work! I can’t imagine a better way to invest your time!

    1. Thank you, Susan! I completely agree with you! Few things in life have given me as much pride as watching my daughter learn and grow from my teaching. I will definitely have to look for that book and see if we can incorporate it into our lesson plans.

  6. These are great ideas Kristi! I don’t have kids, but if I did I’d think seriously about homeschooling. The more I learn about it I think it’s a great option and I’d love to do it if I ever do end up having kids.

    1. Kayla, I think it’s wonderful that you are open to different possibilities for schooling for any future kids. Many people don’t think about these sorts of things until they are facing them head on. You’ll be well prepared in the future!

  7. I wonder if you will end up home-schooling after this pre-school year. It seems to have been a positive experience so far. I’ll put my bets on your keeping it up for a few more years : )

    1. You’re right, Prudence Debtfree =] We are planning on homeschooling until and unless we can side hustle enough to afford private school.

  8. Lots of great ideas here. My son just turned 2 and I would like to find some more educational stuff for him. I can’t say enough about the library. The one near our house was recently renovated and it has a lot of great stuff. He has a blast there.

    1. Syed, we just adore our library. Our daughter knows the librarians by name at this point. They have so many great resources both at the brick and mortar location and online. My kids always have a blast there too!

    1. Being tasked with your child’s education is both thrilling and terrifying. It is well worth every ounce of effort though!

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