Homeschooling Without Breaking The Bank
The costs of homeschooling can add up quickly if you're not careful, but they don't have to! I've been homeschooling for 6 years now and I've learned so much in that time from other homeschoolers.
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I'm so grateful that there are so many wonderful homeschool forums and blogs out there happy to help others.
One of the lessons I've learned is it's not always the curriculum you buy but HOW you use it that is important. Constantly switching curriculum's to find just the right one isn't always the answer, try changing how your using it.
Now yes sometimes a change is needed, but I like to try adapting things first. If I'm using a text or workbook and it's not going as well as I thought, I'll try doing the work orally instead.
Sometimes reading a text book and narrating works better than filling out long lists of questions. Don't be afraid to take control of your curriculum instead of it controlling you!
When I start planning for our school year I make a list of what topics we want to cover and what goals I have for each child. Then I look at what books I already own that could help with this, then search the internet for free books, activity pages and media to add in.
I also keep a close eye on the thrift store book shelves, I've found some real gems there! However my favourite place to stock up on good books are library book sales. Books are normally low priced and some are by donation.
A library in our area has a huge book sale each year, it's by donation and I was devastated to find out that when it's done books that are not sold are tossed into the dumpster! So I don't feel bad about taking what we need for a reasonable donation, I hate to see books destroyed.
When I'm ready to buy curriculum I try to pick out non consumables and multi level books. I can't always find this, but I try! Teaching multiple grades/ages at the same time with the same resource takes a big work load off mom!
There is a huge amount of free and low cost curriculum out there but these are a few of our favourites.
Five in a Row ~ It's not free but is one of our favourites and an amazing value for it's price. Five in a Row (FIAR) are unit study guides for ages 5 to 8. The lessons can easily be adapted for younger children or older children if you want to combine your whole family together. However they do make a book for PreK children called Before Five in a Row and we love it. For the older group there is Beyond Five in a Row. FIAR builds lessons on quality children's literature most of the books can be purchased reasonably or found at your local library. There are many activities for each subject so you can easily "row" the same book a few times and cover different material.
Homeschool Share ~ This is an amazing website with unit studies for a wide age range, based of great literature Man of the studies I've used complement our FIAR units. Many are in lapbook format but can be used anyway you like. You would still need to add math and phonics to most of the units here. I definitively recommend checking out this site!
Ambleside Online ~ Ambleside Online is one of my favourite free homeschool curriculum. It is based of the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason. If you're not familiar with her methods at first glance this would look like just a book list. It is perfectly find to use this as a resource of great books to read. However using it along with narration, copywork etc. makes it shine. Ambleside Online includes lesson plans for grades K to 12. It includes history, geography, science and language arts. You will need to add a math program and phonics but there are suggested resources for this. Most of the books in this program are available free online or reasonably priced.
An Old Fashioned Education ~ This is another free curriculum that is similar to Ambleside Online. All the texts are available for free since they are in the public domain. Books are organized both by subject and by grade. So if you're looking for a full curriculum or just to fill in some places it's easy to navigate.
Kiss Grammar ~ This is a great free grammar program. It uses text from classic literature to teach children how to recognize grammar forms.
Grammar and Writing Handbooks by Scott Foresman ~ These are some great free grammar and writing workbooks for grades 1 to 6.
Starfall ~ This is a wonderful website to help children learn phonics. There are both free and paid versions.
Vocabulary Spelling City ~ This is a great website that has both free and subscription options. Our kids love using this for practicing spelling.
XtraMath ~ This is a great free math drill website, our children use it daily. I love that it not only drills the math facts but if your child gets the answer wrong or runs out of time they are shown the answer and have to type it in. I find this helps them to remember it better.
Khan Academy ~ This is a wonderful free math program. It's my oldest daughters favourite. All students start at the basic math level and work through the math web at their own pace. There are free videos to explain every topic more than 3000, and if they are stuck they can click on hints to help. As they progress they earn badges and our kids love this! This site also has computer math/programming and science.
Timez Attack ~ This is a great game for learning math facts. There are both free and paid versions, we have only used the free one. All of our children love this. It teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
These are just a few of our family's favourite free and low cost curriculum's, what are yours?