3 Cheap Ways to Survive Homeschool This School Year

Lately my Facebook feed has been filling up with First Day of School pictures from the States. Sweet little children in brand new clothes, all holding handmade signs showing what grade they are now entering. It’s been cute, and I stop and smile at each one, remembering how excited I used to be about the first day of school. Which, by the way, came in September when I was a child, not the first of August!

At my house we homeschool, not necessarily because we want to either, but because it is what works best for our family at this season of life. Still, we make the most of it and try our best not to go crazy. Typically, as long as my husband prepares my morning coffee before we get started for the day, I’m okay. Typically.

In just a few weeks my kiddos and I will begin our third year homeschooling together. And let me tell you, it has been a learning process for sure. When I first started I tried to be that overachieving homeschooling mama whose every lesson was Pinterest worthy, and I burned out way fast because of it. Even threw in the towel all together and sent my kids to private school for a whole year just to regain sanity. But eventually God pressed homeschooling upon my heart again and assured me that perfection was the least bit required when teaching my children.

Now days, I actually half enjoy homeschooling. Something about starting each day around the kitchen table piled high with books offers me a sense of peaceful routine, which is something I often don’t get here in Haiti.

If you are a homeschooling mom, or if you are a mom who just needs some activities for your kids to do in the afternoons that won’t turn their brains into mush, let me share a few of my favorite things.

Here is a short list of resources I have found to be extra helpful (and economical) in making homeschooling less stressful and simpler for our family. I hope they can help you too!


I spend my mornings homeschooling, but I also work full time as an administrator for a small organization in Haiti. This means my time is both precious and limited. Enter Time 4 Learning. An online program, my kids can sign on everyday and independently follow an individualized curriculum catered to their own learning style. Progress reports are sent to me via email, and best of all, it is fairly inexpensive. Although you can, we don’t use Time 4 Learning as my kid’s primary instruction time, but simply as a supplement to help reinforce what they are (supposed to be) learning with me. To check it out, go to to www.time4learning.com.


I’m all about cheap. And living on cross-cultural support, cheap is a necessity. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. I know Zulily is a favorite site for deals on name brand clothing and shoes, but towards the end of summer it is also full of school supply and curriculum sales. It’s one of those sites you have check in with often since their sales change everyday, but saving 50% on textbooks is so worth it! So head over to www.zulily.com today and start shopping!


I saved the best one for last. Seriously, finding this program was such a gift. Whether you homeschool or not, if you are a mom raising children abroad, this site is for you. A former TCK and forever lover of books, this angel called Gail sends used books to missionary children overseas. All you have to do is email her and tell her about your ministry and children. She will send you a book list, which currently includes over 6,000 books! You pick what you want. She mails them to you. And all you have to do is cover the shipping fees. How amazingly wonderful is that? We joined this program last spring and my children love it! I haven’t quite sold them on the joy of reading for fun yet, but Kid’s Books Without Borders is sure helping. For more information on how to get books for your children head to Gail’s website: kidswithoutborders.wordpress.com.

Do you homeschool?

What are some of your best-kept secrets and resources?

Help a mama out?


    1. Jillian September 8, 2016

      Ellen- AH! Thanks for figuring that out. Hopefully people will read the comments below. Leave it to me to mess up a link 🙂

  1. Alisha September 7, 2016

    If you have a hard time getting access to books but you have a good Internet connection, this is a great resource. https://allinonehomeschool.com/. It makes things really easy on the homeschool mom. =)

  2. Ruth September 8, 2016

    http://www.betterworldbooks.com/ has free shipping worldwide! They have a lot of $4 used books. I have gotten a lot of children’s books for school and otherwise on there. It takes somewhere around 4-6 weeks to ship to us in China.
    I also use Youtube a lot. How did people home school before “hey let’s look up a video on …”? If there is a supplemental kids book that I don’t have, I can usually find a read-aloud on youtube too.

    1. Ashley Felder September 9, 2016

      Genius! I never thought to look up supplemental books on Youtube! I’m coming across a lot of those now as we’re starting….of course I wasn’t going to be all the supplements. Good to know I can at least check on there for a read aloud! And yes to Better World Books!

    2. Anna September 10, 2016

      Great tips 🙂 I’m beginning my 8th year of year of homeschooling, except I call it world schooling now. 😉 When home is such a fluid concept, and school happens in many locations, it seems to fit.

  3. Jillian September 8, 2016

    Ruth- Oh man I know! We use YouTube all the time. If you have an iPad or something like that there is an app called YouTube Kids. It is safe for the kids and finding educational videos is super easy.

  4. Holly September 8, 2016

    I love hearing about you homeschooling! I might have mentioned this to you, but I love homeschool podcasts. They give me new ideas, encourage me, and spur me on in my homeschooling journey.

  5. Ashley Felder September 9, 2016

    I have 2. Brainpop.com or brainpopjr.com is an app/site that has TONS of 5-minute educational videos, using cute characters. It’s straight facts, and my kids eat it up. My 7yo has nearly all of them memorized and spits them out constantly. It is $100/year….but worth it for us. Second, I just learned about this one this week (from a gal in our ongoing Connection Group! Shout out, Tina!): gonoodle.com. I’ve been struggling with motivation and my oldest getting really frustrated….and it’s only week 1! This site is silly, but gets the kids up and moving, and doing some cross-body movements, which (not researched by me, but apparently) help stimulate different parts of the brain. We tried it out this week, and my boys loved getting silly and moving around for a few minutes!

    1. Spring September 10, 2016

      Ashley we also love brain pop. Kids online academy offers it at a discount rate. I am having trouble posting links so just Google it. You sign up through them and pay significantly less. I use it every year

  6. Spring September 10, 2016

    I have tried about ten times to post links and my comment doesn’t go through. I even had a few times where I tried to post and the site told me I had already posted but it didn’t show up. This time I am trying to post without the links. Thanks so much for sharing what has helped you. Homeschooling cross culturally can be lonely

    1. Jillian September 10, 2016

      It can be lonely! I’m with you there. So thankful for this community to remind us that we are not alone…even though sometimes we might feel like it.

  7. Spring September 10, 2016

    I will attempt to do this in a different way… Let’s see if this works I eliminated the http and dot com but if you copy paste into a search engine it would still work

    homeschooled for a few years before going cross cultural. Honestly the lack of materials was my hardest part (both physical, no libraries and emotionally no friends that homeschooled). Our friends sent us a kindle as a Christmas present and this was a lifesaver. We use our Stateside library card to get books for it to “rent” for free. I have even borrowed someone’s library card number just for the online books.

    Here are some sites varying in prices that I have used/like. I am very eclectic in my approach and this is what the resources I tend to use fit into:

    enchantedlearning is a site that has free worksheets. There is also a yearly low fee to print out most of the worksheets. I really like this one there are thousands of worksheets

    abcteach similar to enchanted learning, a little higher tech (has some good powerpoints) and same/similar low fee to use. They also have some free worksheets

    kidsonlineacademy (this is a dot org) offers discounts on many different products by working like a homeschool co-op. We get brainpop through them because otherwise we would be paying triple the price

    homeschoolbuyersco-op (dot org)another co op like place to get cheaper materials

    starfall for early readers. You can also (again) pay a small price to use the site for more advanced reading and math.
    Other early reading sites for free:

    Online classes and lap books/worksheets:

    Free lapbooks

    Hope that information helps someone 🙂 I love it when people put their minds together and help each other. Thank you for this post

  8. Kaylee September 11, 2016

    My girls and I love books! We love to read and be read to and we are discovering the joy of audiobooks as part of our school day. Librivox has so many good options. We are currently listening to a chapter or two a day of Little Women, read dramatically by several different people. The best part of Librivox, it’s free! This list by Sarah Mackenzie at Read Aloud Revival got us started: http://amongstlovelythings.com/librivox-2.

    Speaking of Sarah Mackenzie, her podcasts are excellent. Start with the first! http://amongstlovelythings.com/read-aloud-revival-the-podcast/ I have discovered podcasts are an excellent source of continuing education for the homeschooling teacher and can be so encouraging as the only homeschooler with our org on this field.

    One of the biggest issues for me has been getting over the hump of “needing” to have supplies sent from the US. Besides books (no English books available here), I have discovered that if I’m creative I can find all the supplies I need in country. It took me some time to get outside of the US Pinterest post homeschool ideas but once we started getting creative I found that were pretty satisfied with what’s available. The quality isn’t always the same and we may not be able to do all of the projects I think of but we’re finding things to do.

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