“Kids are expensive” is a phrase I hear over and over. Sure, having kids is far from free but it does not mean that having kids will put a family in the poor house. I am a mother with 4 kids, expecting a 5thin March- popular estimates say that raising a child from birth to age 18 will cost in excess of $100,00 (us). That is a lot of money. We do not have that kind of income. Yet, we are not living on Ramen Noodles. Why? We make the most of what we have, prioritize, and cooperate. This also means we shop around a bit for educational needs. It would be great if I could make choices for my family without regard for money, sadly, that is not my reality. My reality is that each dollar needs to be stretched as far as it can go. This includes choices relative to education. I could spend several thousand dollars a year on curricula for my four homeschool children but as that is not an option I get creative and search for free homeschooling programs. Needless to say, A great resource of free curricula is our Free Classifieds page. Check it out as there’s maybe someone out there looking to sell his old books for few bucks. Its also a great way to get read of old and unused books or curriculum and get some money. Eventually, Sometimes I end up purchasing a few subjects and getting a few for free, it depends on what will work best for my children’s needs and my needs.
My best resources
Homeschoolmath.net is one of my favorite sites for free homeschooling programs in math. It allows me to find worksheets to cater to my children’s needs and strengths. The state in which I live has very loose regulation for homeschoolers so I am free to design things to suit my family’s needs. However, different states and areas have different rules so a parent would be wise to investigate any regulation before committing to a do it yourself curriculum.
Ambleside Online is a Charlotte Mason based free homeschool program. Charlotte Mason was an educator who lived in the 1800′s and formed a three pronged approach to education. She theorized that education was founded in atmosphere, discipline, and life. Ambleside Online is a great resource because it addresses many stages of a homeschooling family from providing support to newcomers to encouraging students to strive for higher achievement Ambleside Online encourages students and empowers families to take control of their education. One of the things that I like best about this curriculum is that it is founded on ‘real books’ not just text books as are typical for schooling. This engages my children and then they are more likely to stick to the books and enjoy the lessons.
Another free homeschool program is Lesson Pathways. This program is not as Christian in nature as Ambleside Online which depending on where someone is coming from can be a positive or a negative. It has tremendous resources and suggestions for activities to engage children who learn best with hands on activities. This is one reason I use it extensively with one of my children who has attention deficit issues. The fact that I can customize lessons to my children’s needs is one of the biggest draws to homeschooling for me even better than I can do it for free. One thing to consider when looking for free homeschool programs is that you will have to invest significantly more time in preparing lessons, procuring books, worksheets etc. Most books will have to be viewed online, printed or borrowed from a library. This can be very time consuming especially for more than one child. It is up to the family if the tradeoff is worth it.
Core Knowledge is not a homeschool program per se, but it does offer valuable insights into what grade levels are expected to know. For me, this is very useful when looking into my lesson plans long-range or identifying any gaps in my children’s learning and allows me to address them before they become too severe. There are thousands of homeschool programs available. Some claim to be free but are not- with hidden costs and upgrades to lessons which. As always “Caveat Emptor”, let the buyer beware. Free homeschooling programs also require the parents to do research to ensure that the program coincides with the family’s beliefs and morals. There is no reason though that a child’s education by free homeschooling programs cannot be every bit as complete as any other child. In fact it may be superior owing to the need for parental involvement and creativity.