By Umm Badr
Every family struggles to try to keep within their homeschooling budget. This article will be a first in a series on how to save money while home educating your children in insha’Allah. Many family budgets do not exceed one hundred dollars for the year. This strict budget is due to necessity so their is no question as to having to adhere to it or not. We also can maintain such low costs when homeschooling. By creating your own curriculum and being a scrutinizing consumer you homeschooling budget can survive in insha’Allah. Here are some ideas that might enable you to keep true to your home education budget in insha’Allah.
Garage and Estate Sales
There is nothing shameful in buying things that are used. Recycling is integral in Islam, for we are not to squander the resources that Allah has provided. Garage and estate sales are an important resource for home educators. There are wonderful things to find, not to mention the unbeatable prices. In order to save time and gas frequent garage sales that are listed as moving sales or ‘estate sales’. There will be much more of a selection in insha’Allah. The higher the income bracket of an area the more quality of merchandise you will find at the garage sales. Thoroughly examine the items that you are going to buy because all sales are final! Here are some things to keep an eye out for in insha’Allah: bookcases, wide variety of books, desks, cabinets, dressers, tables, easels or blackboards, globes, abacus, unused notebooks or writing pads, electronic appliances so the children can take them apart and see how they work.
You may be even able to find some things for free in insha'Allah. We have stopped at a couple of houses who we thought were having a garage sale but in fact were throwing out the garbage. There 'garbage' contained two perfectly good bookcases and one wall unit. We asked if we could take it and they said be our guest. I know many people subscribe to just taking things from th e curb but we have always asked and have never been refused. We have also gotten some discarded items from businesses. Here is a list of items that we got for free and that were in excellent condition allhumdulilah. Allah always provides. Wall unit, 2 small bookcases, 2 very large hardwood bookcases, 1 desk and 4 tables of various sizes
These are another indispensable resource for homeschooling families. You can find a wide range supply of items at very low prices. Such items range from pens to chalkboards. If you frequent a particular store give them a list of items who may need in the future and ask them to put them aside for you. Every month, visit and examine the stored items. Managers will be willing to do this, if they value you as a customer. Be discriminating on the dollar stores you frequent because the quality of products and prices can vary significantly.
Utilize the public and Islamic libraries in your area. Some Muslim social services organization have small libraries that you can borrow books from. Many mosques now, also have well stocked libraries. If the mosque in your area does not have a library encourage the Imam that this is a needed resource. Also, find out when the public libraries have their sales or if they have a bookstore selling withdrawn materials. They sell a wide variety of books that are not only useful but in excellent condition. I have found several books that contain curriculums on how to teach your children reading, math, science, etc.
A network of Muslim sisters is vital when living in a non-Muslim society. In Islam, it is our duty to foster these relations as much as possible insha’Allah. These relations are invaluable sources of support and resources. When home educating our children we like to know what other families are doing and what resources they have found useful. Networking presents various opportunities to share ideas, catalogs, books, curriculum's. This can save everyone time and money, not to mention the much needed support. You can also give each other clothes that the children have outgrown or items that your children no longer need. Just remember the shape that these items are in. If it is too worn for your children to wear then it probably is too worn for other children to wear. Cut up the items that are too worn and use them for; rags, bean bags, pin cushions or quilts. Another idea is to have an annual swap meet. Each person brings all unused items to a designated sisters house. Items can include books, clothes, household items, etc. Each person can choose to either sell their items, trade them for another item or give them away. If there are not any sisters homeschooling in your area then do not be afraid to use the telephone, mail or the computer insha’Allah.
Many resources you would buy at an educational store are available at department stores for a fraction of the price. Stores such as K-Mart, Zellers and WalMart carry a wide selection of educational supplies. Notebooks and paper supplies are inexpensive during the September ‘back to school’ sales. These chains also sell a wide selection of workbooks. A large number of homeschoolers use only these workbooks because of the quality and price. These workbooks vary in price from 1.99 to 4.99,(still a fraction of the price of workbooks offered by educational stores). To make them an even better bargain you can laminate them with contact paper or put them in page protectors. This enables them to be passed from child to child. These stores also have flashcards at six times less than the price of comparable ones sold by educational stores. Other educational supplies at low prices include chemistry sets, globes, and a variety of word and math games.
Make it yourself
I have several catalogs from educational stores that I use for ideas. Ideas not for purchases but for homemade educational supplies. Many of the tools they sell can be made at home for a fraction of the price. Any item that you are considering buying think first if there is a way you could make it yourself insha’Allah. It does not take that much time and the kids can help. You would be surprised at some of the ideas children can have on improving certain tools and games. Sometimes you do not need to purchase or make a particular item because you have something comparable already in your home. For example, instead of a magnetic lap board for alphabets, use a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet is better because it has a raised rim and it can be painted if you want insha’Allah. I also modify the English and math tools by making homemade copies substituting English with Arabic. This helps me implement Arabic more thoroughly into our curriculum.
Do be on the look out for useful items but try to refrain from being too absorbed with the possession of material things. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) stated; "Wealth does not come from abundance of goods but from a contented heart." Only a few choice items are necessary for home education, especially if you create your own curriculum. Homemade items and taking advantage of free resources such as libraries and halaquas make home education complete. Do not compete with other home schoolers for resources, only in Deen and the Deen of your family insha’Allah.
Muslim Home Education Network Australia ( MHENA ) is a united group of Muslim Homeschooling mothers, with experience in all of the learning stages up to stage 5, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Read More