Homeschooling is like anything else–a great opportunity for people to make money. And I’m all about the opportunity to make money!
But every now and then I talk to moms who are financially strapped but still feel the pressure to invest in lots of curriculum. Or, I hear from moms who say they would like to come home and homeschool, but if their income was cut, they wouldn’t be able to afford school materials, assuming that’s the only way to do it.
The good news is you can truly homeschool without spending any money, at least for a long time. It will require a bit more work, but not as much as you might think. AND, because we are just accustomed to the neat, colorful packages of curriculum, it’s hard for us to think of not having it.
The truth is, really, (and we know it), that learning doesn’t require anything fancy or pre-packaged and can be quite fun and creative!
Obviously, there’s no way to write an exhaustive list of resources for every grade level and subject. So I thought I’d offer some ideas to get you thinking and some resources for your use, even if just to supplement what you already have.
The goal. First, make sure you remember the goal of homeschooling: to educate, not to get finished with a text book. Getting through a grade level of curriculum is only important if they learn the material. Finishing isn’t the goal.
What to teach. The beauty of homeschooling! If you really want to stay right on track with their schooled counterparts, you can look on line or in text books to see what other children are learning and when. However, keep in mind that your children will not be handicapped if they learn about the Civil War in the second grace but don’t know what barometric pressure is until the 8th. One time table, established by the state schools, is just one time table–not necessarily the “right” one. If they are learning, they are being educated in the right direction.
Books. Start a running book list and use your library and ask friends if you can borrow/barter with them. Books are your foundation. Ambleside is a great place to start compiling your list. Also, there are many, many free on-line books now, so check The Online Books Page and sites like that for free versions.
Math. For little ones, math is easy. It’s all around us every day–just remember, instead of taking what is so natural to us for granted, talk through it as you see opportunities (time, measurements, adding and subtracting). For elementary/middle school math, Math Worksheets Land, with free worksheets, is wonderful. You could even print these off and create your own text book.
Teaching reading. Chalkboards are GREAT for teaching little ones letters and sounds. They seem to be motivated more by a chalkboard than just a piece of paper, though that works great too! I’ve heard of making peanut butter playdoh letters, and all sorts of other ideas too. Teaching children to read is so much more simple than I once thought–sounds of letters, then put letters together, then words–that’s it. Nothing fancy required.
Check out Donna Young’s Printables and Resource for a wealth of help!
I’ve also used the Flapbook idea to teach reading, writing letter blends on one flap then the ending of the word on another and teaching one side at a time.
Text books. While not free, you can find cheap text books for subjects like math at thrift shops. (Older editions work just fine. Math isn’t supposed to change ;-))
History. Reading great biographies with a few resource books on hand can supply a rich education of social studies, geography and history. Add essays for older students and if you don’t feel confident enough to grade them, barter with a friend who can.
Science. Use what’s around you for science. Don’t overlook the simplicity and “secret” of nature studies and journals. Find what sparks their interest and then use the Internet for deeper investigation. Collecting, drawing, classifying is an excellent hands-on tool. There are many educational opportunities found in just the weather. (I think it was William Clark, and I’m sure many others, who kept small journals in his pocket where he habitually recorded details about the weather and conditions around him wherever he went.)
Trivia. We have found that trivia games of all sorts provide a really great spring board for sparking interest and further studies. We are currently spending a few minutes in the afternoon while I ask trivia questions from a National Geographic game. We learn facts, but it also opens up doors and then they end up discussing things they learned with Dad around the dinner table. The discussion is the gem.
Skills. We don’t talk enough about the importance of learning life skills. There are obvious ones like learning to run a household (and so many kids miss these, despite how obvious!) and there are all sorts of other opportunities like working alongside your husband or neighbor as he builds a deck where he will learn not just the skill, but the educational application as well (measurements, fractions, equations). In the big picture of life, I would venture to say that learning practical skills is EVERY BIT important as gaining an intellectual education, but so often ignored. (I may have to revisit this topic in a post of its own!) So hand that kid a screwdriver and put him to work!
Before you begin. I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize that for Christians, we MUST begin with “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. It’s so easy to get swept along by what others expect of us, and neglect our greatest duty in education. Our children will be so far ahead by simply teaching from this simple starting place. And besides that, it’s our command!
- And there is Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschooling, a complete and FREE website for schooling K-12!
These are just a few things–only the beginning. When you realize that education is about the learning–not the text book, you will begin to see opportunities all around you for educating your children…and yourself, maybe for the first time!