One of the downsides to educating your children at home is the expense.  Books that would have ordinarily been provided by a public school system are now your responsibility to purchase on your own.  The “pay to play” system is usually the only way to include your children in extracurricular and athletic activities.  Dues, fees, and lessons can be a big turn-off to those who aren’t used to paying much of anything for a quality education. 

Shockingly, however, there are also some big financial advantages to homeschooling that often come in the form of discounts to places you may not have been able to visit otherwise.  Here are a few of the many types of businesses that are trying to woo the homeschool crowd with up to 50% off on their goods and services. 

Amusement parks – Many amusement parks and indoor water parks offer a discount day specifically for homeschoolers, (although they may require that tickets are bought by an organized homeschool group at the discounted group rate.Other parks offer year-round savings for certain days and hours where most children would otherwise be in school.  Up to 50% savings allows for homeschooled families to take advantage of a great deal, and the parks are able to bolster sales during their dead times.  Call your park to ask about homeschool discounts or promotions that may be available. 

Books and supplies – Both Borders and Barnes & Noble offer a 20% discount on books, videos, and select classroom supplies to educators and homeschoolers that can provide proof of state certification. Barnes & Noble also offers a straight 25% discount on all classroom and personal purchases during their special Educator Appreciation weeks.  Smaller book stores and distributors also have their own teacher discounts, so it is a good idea to inquire at the retailer you use most frequently.  Scholastic also offers its book club catalogs and teacher pricing to homeschools.  To sign up, visit the teacher resources page at Scholastic.com

Business supplies and services – Kinko’s offers an educator discount of 15% on most products and services both instore and online.  Unlike many savings programs, there is no quarterly limit to the amount your can purchase with your discount.  To apply for the savings card, which will be received within 7 to 10 business days, visit this link.  Details and restrictions can be found here.  Other office supply stores offer savings programs with incentives for certain purchase amounts.  These stores include OfficeMax, Office Depot,  and Staples

Crafts and gifts – Large fabric and craft stores offer teacher’s discounts, too!  Jo-Ann and Hancock will give you between 10% and 15% off your total educational purchase when you join their programs. 

Educational Rewards – Homeschoolers can now participate in the same popular incentive programs offered in public schools.  Pizza Hut’s Book-It program is open to homeschooled students starting with preschool ages.  Chuck E. Cheese has their Tokens for Grades program available to any child that can provide documentation of good grades, including homeschoolers! 

The sky really is the limit when it comes to working out deals with your local businesses.  Don’t hesitate to approach the manager or business owner of your favorite movie theatre, bowling alley, or activities center and let them know that homeschooling is a growing and profitable niche market.  They usually are more than happy to provide a discount rate to a group of families wanting to take advantage of off-peak hours.  It is also a great opportunity to educate the community about this growing group of consumers!