How Homeschoolers Score Free Piano Lessons, Art Classes, and Math Tutors

Dollars & Sense on 10.09.12

Image: Pink Poppy Photography/Creative Commons

So, your daughter wants to take piano lessons at $35 an hour, and you're already over your homeschool budget for the year. Now your son, who is struggling with math, needs a tutor which will cost you another $40 per hour. And don't forget that your little one has been begging to sign up for art classes which will run you $20 per class. Ouch! Luckily, homeschoolers are known for their thriftiness and can manage to add all these things to their schedules for little or no cost. Here's how we do it. 

1. Teaching Swap. Every other week I welcome three first grade girls into my home where I host a free art co-op. I teach the girls how to sew felt finger puppets, make interesting animals out of autumn leaves, and create simple origami pieces. Do I do this out of the kindness of my heart? Well, yes and no. I love that my daughter gets to have a fun morning learning and socializing with her friends. But I also have the added benefit of getting something in return -- free tutoring and lessons in subjects I am not as comfortable teaching. 

To set something like this up for your kids, you'll need to reach out to your homeschooling support group and propose a swap. Post a message that looks something like this: "Offering: Free math tutoring in exchange for piano lessons for my six year old daughter." You'd be surprised at just how many homeschoolers are doing this, and with all sorts of subjects.

2. Barter. If you can't offer to teach someone else's child, you may be able to offer your other strengths as a way to barter for classes. Local businesses, like karate or dance studios, may be willing to provide your children with free classes if you will do their bookkeeping, coordinate a mass mailing, or do some graphic design work. Think about what you have to offer and approach the owner with your idea. For example, I edit a preschool video each year in exchange for a year-long membership to our local family fitness center -- this even includes credit towards dance, yoga, and swim classes. 

3. Negotiate. Homeschoolers have a very powerful negotiating tool: children who are not in school during the day. This "untapped" market can open the earning potential of businesses to a whole new set of people. Let your local gymnastics studio know that you have a group of homeschoolers interested in taking a class, but at a daytime discount. After all, they can't make money off of kids who are in school, and you can come earlier than anyone else can. 

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