Do you DIY homeschool materials? While we have purchased many of our Montessori Materials, we made several DIY Montessori Materials at first to afford the cost of homeschooling, and to really ensure that Montessori was right for us.
Here are some tips for how DIY can help you afford to homeschool.
Part of my decision to homeschool my daughter was the extreme cost of sending her to a Waldorf or Montessori preschool or elementary program.
Although some schools are now equipped to provide subsidies to families who would not otherwise be able to afford them, the application and approval process is quite invasive and even with financial assistance, the programs can still end up costing a few thousand dollars. In our city, you can’t even qualify for assistance at the Montessori schools until you’ve attended for more than a couple years – so it’s more for families who can normally afford it but have fallen on hard times.
However, homeschooling can easily end up costing as much, or more, than traditional Montessori (or Waldorf) options. Both methods of teaching utilize many beautiful and well-designed materials which are often made of wood or other natural materials, and are hard to source beyond a few specialty retailers.
For me, the solution has been to (attempt to) DIY as many materials that I deem worthwhile to our homeschool journey and only purchase those that cannot be adaquately reproduced at home, or whose reproductions would take up a disproportionate amount of time relative to their cost.
I am not a DIY-wizard; the projects that I have attempted and shared are all quite easy, and just require some out-of-the-consumer-box thinking.
My tips for incorporating DIY solutions into your homeschool plan:
What’s the Principle of the Material?
Familiarize yourself with the principle and teaching methods behind each material you create or bring into your home, so as to determine if its presence is warranted, and also so as to ensure that any DIY materials take into account all of the necessary design elements.
For example, knowing that the colour cards are self-correcting by the placement of a symbol or number on the back of each tablet, you now won’t waste time painting (or adhering paint chips to) both sides.
Split the Work
When we split the work (and cost) of making three Montessori brown stairs among three people, it was a lot more affordable than if one of us had purchased the same amount of wood and stain. We were also able to affordably hire a carpenter by pooling our resources
Start with no-tool DIYs.
Figure out if a DIY lifestyle is right for you before you commit.
Can you find the time and prioritize a DIY project, or are you better off figuring out how to save in other areas to afford to purchase the material? Before you invest in tools, start small and see if this is sustainable for you.
Rent your tools.
If you’re organized, you can rent a tool from a hardware store for a weekend and get a lot of work done. Make a list of the materials you want to make, assemble your necessary materials and do any needed prep work, and clear your calendar to make the most of the 24-48 hours that you rent the tool for. If you’re having to rent the tool every time you make a homeschool material (rather than doing a bunch at once), you’re probably better off investing in the tool
Figure Out How Much You Can Invest
It’s still an investment. You’re already saving money by DIY, don’t skimp and get plastic bottles for smell bottles, or buy a cheap laminator that’s going to die after 100 uses.
DIY isn’t for everyone, but even if you choose not to DIY homeschool materials, you can still create DIY organization systems to make your homeschool life easier, and don’t overlook your local Craigslist or eBay offerings. I’ve been shocked at how many Montessori Materials I’ve been able to purchase used locally, from schools, home daycares, and other homeschoolers (who can then turn into great friends or mentors).
What are your tips for saving money with DIY homeschool materials?
Check out my Montessori Materials page for a list of the DIYs that I have attempted & those that I’ve found around the web.