Looking around the curriculum hall before our first year homeschooling gave us sticker shock as we looked at the different curriculum and their costs. Wow! We quickly realized that almost everything was way out of our price range. The only curriculum we could somewhat afford was Rod & Staff. And with that we could get two maybe three books, still a bit out of our price range. So what did we do? I found a book at our trusty library Homeschool Your Child for Free by LauraMaery Gold and Joan Zielinski. From that book I discovered that it was totally possible to pull together our own curriculum, and felt validated in how I had taught my children as I prepared them for traditional schooling. Fully prepared to be eclectic and find whatever we needed when needed at the library I was then introduced to Ambleside Online and I have not looked back. So now it is your turn. Maybe you are just like we were, broke and on a mission to provide your child with the very best. If so here are a few Free choices to consider.
Ambleside Online is a Year 0 (Pre-K/Kindergarten) to Year 12 semi-full free homeschool curriculum. It is semi-full only in the sense that you must choose your own math and foreign language. Since it is based solely on Charlotte Mason’s principles AO has many wonderful classic books. This isn’t a book list per se because without knowing the principles of Charlotte Mason you may not reap the full benefits of the books, but CM’s principles are very intuitive and easy to implement once learned. The books are definitely above the public school grade levels so they are a bit harder for your children to understand, but they will quickly capture their hearts. They are also European centric, which is understandable given that the most recent ‘world powers’ have been in or descended from Europe. Some of us moms are working on incorporating books about different cultures and peoples. The cool thing is that if you are having trouble, there is a bustling community on facebook, yahoo groups, and their own forums where you can ask questions or just communicate a good deal you found on some living books. It is free to access the book list, free to join the community, and a lot of the books are available online for free! In the earlier years if was very easy for me to find the paper books at the library, as we move up through the years, it is becoming increasingly harder, so if you don’t like for your children to constantly look at a screen, understand that in the higher grades you may need to shell out some cash.
Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool
Easy Peasy is a free and full homeschool curriculum created by a mom who placed her older children’s assignments online to provide them independent, easy access and saved for her younger children to go through later. She also wanted her hard work to stretch beyond her family to allow other families to benefit. Easy Peasy uses books from the Ambleside Online and Robinson Curriculums that are available free online. If you are looking for books in a specific subject you can find those lists here. The curriculum goes from Getting Ready 1 (pre-K) to eighth grade. To get to the high school curriculum you can go to the sister site at Easy Peasy All-in-one High School.The high school site also has nifty credit hours for the courses like art appreciation, which will definitely help with creating your child’s transcript.
Old Fashioned Education
Old Fashioned Education not only has links to free homeschool curriculum but it has its own free curriculum that is based on the Charlotte Mason Method. This curriculum provides a book list, weekly assignment book and 40 week schedules for each grade level starting at grade 1 and going all the way to grade 12. The books on this booklist are mostly public domain books, meaning you can download, save, and print these books without any worries of violating copyright laws. It is a little more structured that Ambleside Online. Like Easy Peasy, the site has separated books into subjects. So if you wanted to supplement in one area with a living book you could, which is a big help in itself.
Mater Amabilis is a curriculum set up very much like Ambleside Online but specifically geared for Catholic Families and some of the book choices reflect that. Right now, there is a set course of study for grades Pre-K to 8th grade but there is a page for high schoolers where you can view Ms. Charlotte’s PNEU high school schedules and use those to create a plan of your own. A lot of the books are available through archive.org or google books and most are free online. This site is cool in that there are adaptations available, such as an “Australian History Cycle” or “books available in the UK”.
Lesson Pathways is a site full of unit studies/ activities from year 1 to year 5. The pathways are split by subjects and again by grade level. For instance, there is a history pathway that is split again into grade levels which are again split into topics. The topic resources can come from anywhere. For instance, for Year K- One-to-One Correspondence there was a link to Mama Jenn’s Worms in my Apples File Folder Game, with a list of supplies needed. Or for the math year 5 carrying and borrowing unit a link to Dr. Mikes Math Games for kids addition tiles. http://www.dr-mikes-math-games-for-kids.com/addition-and-subtraction-tiles.html among and other prescreened links. Other times there is a description of a game that can be played. There is a free registration to access all of the items available, but you can browse a little bit without signing-up.
SAS Curriculum Pathways
SAS Curriculum Pathways is owned by a software company whose CEO is committed to supporting educators and providing access to technological resources for all students and was specifically designed to be implemented within a classroom. This is a standards based program available for grades K-12. To access all of the site you must register, but you can browse some of the offerings without registering, although it won’t get you very far. Pathways are separated by Discipline, Level, Type, Compatibility and Category. If you need something that is free and compatible on an iPad and Android Tablet then you can easily find it here. It looks like this would be very beneficial to find apps to continue learning while on the go.
As a private university, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has provided a vast amount of high school courses online for free! The courses from Highlights for High School were created to help the students seeking to enter college, learn the basics and prepare for the AP exams. Therefore is is not as full nor as structured as some of the other sites mentioned. Subjects offered are Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Humanities and Social Sciences. But these courses have been used by teachers and homeschoolers alike to challenge their students. This site is tied to other MIT offerings which are located at the Other MIT Offerings page, which is vast.
A site with a lot of videos, Hippocampus draws from Khan Academy, The NROC Project, Chattanooga State, NASA, and the Virginia Historical Society among many others. They offer Math, the natural sciences, some social sciences and the humanities. Like Khan Academy you can choose to follow an entire course or just brush up on a problem area. underneath the video selection there is a blog for teachers on the left and links to similar interests on the right, giving your child plenty of fodder to think on.
So many subjects and so many videos are available at Khan Academy, whose mission is to provide a free world-class education to everyone. Topics are broken up into Math, Science and Engineering, Arts and Humanities, and Test Prep along with by grade level for math (from K to 8th grade). This is a video based self-paced site, so you can go as slow or as fast as you like. If you sign-in to create profiles for your children you can assign them specific courses and view their progress. You’ll even get a email every week about their progress.
CK-12 is an online textbook based site where you have the option to read, watch a video, quiz yourself and use their interactive program PLIX ( Play, Learn, Interact, Explore)to see the concept illustrated The many textbooks are available on amazon as a free kindle download. Once registered you can select by topic or subject and have full access to everything offered. This curriculum would be great for those who don’t mind a completely secular curriculum.
So this is just a start. There are a few more sites that I will add. Hopefully you will find something here that will be wonderful for your family. If I have missed any that you believe deserves a mention let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it! If you have missed any of my previous posts feel free to go here. See you next time!