The following post is from contributing writer Demetria Zinga of Christian Homeschool Moms.
Before my “big” Sonlight purchase this year, I’ve homeschooled on a shoestring budget all along. Needless to say, finding free curricula has always been a priority for me.
Much of what you need to homeschool your kids is completely available- for free. You only need a few key things in order to efficiently homeschool- and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.
I’ll share with you some ideas I’ve used over the years for pulling together a homeschool curriculum for free.
Discover Your Learning Philosophy
You need to have a starting point and foundation. The best way to start your homeschool curriculum planning is by discovering your family learning philosophy.
First, consider each of your children’s interests and passions, learning styles, and other educational needs. Then determine the style of homeschooling you feel will fit your family the best.
For example, this could mean choosing a homeschooling philosophy- such as Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, or Traditional. It could also mean that you pull from a variety of philosophies to form your own eclectic style of teaching and learning.
Consider ideas such as how you would like to see your homeschool look and feel.
Will you be on the road a lot? Would you like to spend more time at home? Will you be taking a lot of fieldtrips? Would you like nature journaling or notebooking to be a part of your journey? Are you more comfortable with worksheets? Lapbooks? Hands-on projects? Online education?
Knowing the answer to these questions will give you a firm foundation of goal-setting that will chart your path to an easier curriculum selection.
Choose a course of study
At this point, you’re ready to begin planning courses for each of your children. If you prefer a family-based approach you may select courses in which you can teach multiple ages simultaneously. Otherwise, you’ll need to chart out a course of study for each of your kids.
This may include your core subjects, like math, science, history and geography, and language arts. Include any faith-based studies and add on electives such as music, art, dance, or sports.
Resources, resources, resources!
Now that you have a course of study outlined, it’s time to begin locating your resources.
Before you leave home, check online for free resources. Doing a simple web search for “free homeschool” should give you a nice starting point.
I’ve found the following resources to be very helpful. These are just a few.
- Softschools.com-provides free math and grammar games, worksheets, and quizzes, organized by grades and topics
- Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool- a complete free homeschool curriculum using various online resources for grades K-8
- Easy Peasy All-in-One High School- a completely free homeschool curriculum which also uses various resources online for grades 9-12
- Ambleside Online- a free homeschool curriculum aligned closely to the Charlotte Mason philosophy
- Virtual Homeschool Group- Provides the world of co-ops in the form of online classes and community
- Free World U- a private, non-profit organization catering to preschool through grades 12
- National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)- a library of online courses which serves students in upper grades and higher education
- Old Fashioned Education- uses works from the public domain to categorized by subject
- Mater Amabalis- a free Charlotte Mason-style curriculum for Catholics (but works for secular as well)
- MIT Open Courseware- free online courses offered through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- CK-12- a non-profit that provides free online resources centered around STEM content and different modalities such as video, audio, quizzes, text, and interactivity
- Khan Academy- a non-profit organization that offers learning content in math, science, economics, humanities, and computer programming
- Hippocampus- free education resources for middle school through college
The internet will give you a smorgasbord of choices, so you’ll need to be very specific about what you’re searching for.
Ask a Friend
Asking a friend is always a great way to determine what’s available to you before you spend your dollars.
Online swaps are another great way to get your hands on materials without needing to pay.
Scour Your Library
Last but not least, always search your library’s online catalog before you leave home to see if books, magazines, audio recordings, and videos are available to you in your chosen content areas.
More than likely, you’ll find quite a few good selections you’ll be able to use throughout the school year. Just make a note of them on your schedule, and remember to place them on hold a few weeks before you’ll actually need them.
Also, don’t forget about your library’s digital resources. Ebooks, audiobooks, and foreign languages (using services such as Mango) can be found on many library websites.
Putting it all together
Using your course of study and gathered resources as a road map, you can now move ahead with an outline for a schedule. I like to sketch out my school year – plan some things in advance, but never set anything in stone. After all, life happens.
Use free calendar and planner resources like the printables at donnayoung.com or online homeschool schedulers, and load them up into a binder. Then map up out your school year- including topics you’d like to cover each month. Make sure when that month arrives you’ve placed your library books on hold and have downloaded your printables (lapbooks, notebooking pages, worksheets) in advance.
Gather any log-in information for freebie educational sites and note those on an accounts page of your teacher planner or binder. Your tentative schedule will help to guide you through the course of the school year and keep you up to date on the topics you want to cover.
As you can see, there are plenty of material available online to teach our kids for absolutely free. Making sure you know what’s available for free before you make any purchases will give you a more educated guess about what you need or don’t need.
I hope you’ll enjoy putting together free homeschool curriculum for your students!
Demetria is a blogging, homeschooling mom of two. She loves motivating homeschool moms to keep on the journey of home education. You can find her blogging, designing, and podcasting at Christian Homeschool Moms and MomZest.com.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net