A homeschool catalogue usually starts by listing how-to-homeschool books and parent resources. My list started like this:
Debra Bell—Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling
Ruth Beechick books—primary, grades 4-8
Books Children Love, other books of books
Homeschool Your Child For Free
Classical Curriculum (Berquist)
Charlotte Mason Companion
CM Home Education series
The Blackboard Book, by Eleanor Watts (e-text)
Free printables and websites, 2010 edition (e-text)
Next section in a typical Christian homeschool catalogue: Bible study resources. Again I just made a list that started like this:
What the Bible is All About for Young Explorers
Old Testament 2-year Survey Class, by Meredith Curtis (e-text)
The Holy Land in the Time of Jesus
Everyday Life in Bible Times (NG book)
Bible for Today, 3 vols.
Barclay’s Gospel commentaries
Desiring God / Future Grace
And so on through Spelling Skills, Handwriting, Grammar, Math, History, Science, Music.
All of this counting and listing had a couple of purposes. One was just a general figuring out of what we had--a chance to count our blessings, if you like, and to realize how much we really didn't need to buy, how much was already right there for us to use. The other reason was to take that information and "shop" with it. From this "homeschool store," what would I buy to use for math this fall with Crayons? What resources could I combine to put together a French program? And was there something really lacking, that I couldn't figure out a way around?
Most of what we plan to use this year came from our own "store." We got planners for about a dollar apiece. We did end up buying new Key to Algebra workbooks for eighth-grader Ponytails, because that made the most sense. Later in the year I'll download the next Math Mammoth level for fourth-grader Crayons. I also bought John Hudson Tiner's Exploring the World of Mathematics from a friend who was done with it, and a set of Calculadder 2, although I'm having second thoughts about using it this year...that's something I need to talk over with the Squirrelings.
I bought a printed-out copy of Write with the Best Volume 2, although I do have my own copy of the file, to save myself the trouble and paper of having to reprint it. (You have to print out the whole book with that one--all or nothing.) And there have been a few other things that popped up along the way, mostly secondhand--like The Canadian Children's Treasury and Science on a Shoestring. Very recently someone on the Canadian used-curriculum exchange list posted a few items for sale, including some historical colouring books that fit with Crayons' history, and a couple of other things, so I have my order in for those. (I try to sell a few books here and there myself to even things out.)
Some printer paper, and I guess we're set.
To sum up: homeschooling is not totally free, even when you shop mostly from the cupboard...but it does help. You could say that I should figure in some amortized cost for books that I had bought previously and used for one or two other people. You could also say that I should include things like printer ink (some people do), staples, any books I haven't bought but might, any lessons or outings that we haven't registered for or attended but might, or even Teacher Appreciation Presents.
Hey, everybody's got a wish list.
This post is linked from the Festival of Frugality.