Here is the homeschool for cheap or free mega post with loads of links and printables
Of course, the most important resources you will need you already possess:
The Holy Spirit. I am hoping you have Him as Your Helper. I could not live without Him! He is the third person of the Trinity, and He has all of God’s wisdom ready and waiting for us to access–hallelujah! (To find out more, check out this post: How To Be Filled And Walk In The Holy Spirit)
You. Yes, you are a great resource. I know you don’t think that way. You may put up a brave front by spouting coaching slogans such as, “I got this!” but in your heart you have all of these voices screaming that you don’t have a thing at all. Thankfully, God’s voice is not one of them. He doesn’t see you that way. He has uniquely chosen you to parent your little one, and you are in the best position to observe the personality and needs of your child. Besides, there is no one else who cares about his upbringing than you; no counselor or teacher or educrat in some big concrete building in Washington DC (who studies charts where people are represented by numbers–how absurd).
No matter how vehemently your knees "smite one against the other," you are the best your baby could ever hope for.
The Internet. I mention this obvious fact because we often dismiss what is directly in front of us. You could definitely homeschool without the Internet, something our forerunners did quite well for thousands of years, but as long as technology does not interfere with our learning, we can use it to its greatest advantage.
Regular, everyday “stuff.” You have lots of stuff, don’t you? I mean, even if you are a minimalist you have things all over your house that kids are curious about, that they need to learn about, that they CRAVE to learn about and beg you and nag you about learning about (yes, I used “about” about a zillion times).
You have cooking stuff, and cleaning stuff, and personal hygiene stuff, and craft stuff, and repairing stuff, and business stuff, and books about all that stuff, and on and on.
As I was finishing out our last school year I actually started inventorying all of the resources I had gathered over the years and realized that if we never checked out another book from the library or ordered another item from the Internet we would have enough “materials” to give a person a top-notch education that would defy one earned at the most prestigious university of the land!
So I decided this year we would use what we had to its greatest advantage, and you can do this, too.
And here is where to start:
Don’t start with books, don’t start with programs, don’t start with methods. Start with what you want to see happen ultimately with your child.
Also, don’t turn it into a dissertation for a group of administrators. Those modern “educrats” we mentioned above have one amazing talent; they know how to turn something beautifully simple into something complicated and awful (which is why you should not look to them as your standard).
Instead, look back a few years to the beginning years of our country when there weren’t any educrats. Despite what you may have heard, back before there was an edict that children be forced to attend school, we enjoyed a 90% literacy rate (it’s said to be 79% now). They were able to teach children the skills necessary to forge the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth without any help from school counselors or standardized tests or “mandates.”
In the end, I believe most of us would gather all of it up and package it neatly like this:
We educate our children so they will be able to read and understand the Holy Scriptures and so they will be able to get along in life.
Simple, elegant, and enough to get the job done, don’t you think?
Now we can formulate a plan.
If variety is the spice of life, too much of it causes belly aches. While I may be familiar with a kazillion homeschooling methods and choices, I will drive myself mad trying to keep track of how I can implement them all with my children.
I crave simplicity–don’t you? So, here is the very basic idea that you need to make the most amazingly wonderful homeschooling program program for cheap or free:
- Life Experiences
I know this is confusing to our school curriculum brains, so I will attempt to break each item down a bit.
Here are the basic categories:
- Early Reading
- Science, both theoretical and operational
Please note: Unless someone or something makes it necessary, our lists of books for our children should never include:
Just say yuck, blech, phlooey, and hear your kids cheer Hooray! Yay! Yummy!
Ignore the “schoolmarm within” and realize this is education YOUR way. Whenever and however possible, choose materials that are delightful.
And, to help choose books you might want/need, at the end of this post are some suggestions (with links where possible). I have purposely chosen things that are either cheap or free in keeping with our theme.
*Side note: The recent history of the world points to the idea that we need to gather up as much of the physical written word as possible. None of us could have predicted our current predicament, and while we are not afraid of the future, we might want to think of preparing for unsettled times. The freedom and accessibility we have been enjoying of late may be interrupted or disappear entirely, so let’s take advantage of this window and store up the treasures available to us.
This is an essential part of an excellent education, and here’s why:
The current accepted form of education is based on the Greek idea, but the Biblical idea is more in accordance with the ways and means of the Creator as outlined in His book, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
Let me illustrate with a chart:
As you can see, in Biblical education discussion is not optional. However, it is also NOT limited to “academic” subjects. The greatest part of this type of discussion covers the why’s and how’s, not necessarily the facts and procedures.
So, when we are teaching a toddler how to share and be “gentle,” we are educating them. When we are sharing baby stories and talking about the importance of being thorough while demonstrating toilet cleaning to an eight-year-old, that is true learning.
One of the worst, most confusing articles I ever read on teaching children to write was in a teacher’s magazine. What should have taken only two or three paragraphs to write was stretched out to three or four small-type pages. It was so filled with jargon and edu-speak that it was difficult to unlock.
Point--modern schooling over-complicates writing instruction. It also tries to make a science out of something that should be an art and ends up killing it altogether.
It’s just as Ruth Beechick has suggested:
To learn to write, write.Ruth Beechick
Start small–simple words, then simple sentences, then slowly increasing until there are paragraphs and essays and stories. When the child feels comfortable writing on a regular basis, then we begin the refining process.
Thankfully, this is not expensive at all! There are so many cheap or free (and fun) ways to go about this–can’t wait to share the links (after the intro…).
I’ve written extensively on this subject, mostly because this is the one most feared part of homeschooling. This is why most of us are willing to pluck down whatever it takes to make us feel better.
But even this doesn’t have to be expensive or extensive. For one thing, it shouldn’t take six years to get through the basics, and for another thing, not everyone needs higher math.
Then, when we discover that formal math instruction need not start until at least the age of eight, and probably would be better not begun until nine or ten, we begin to relax and realize it can be done.
Also, I have uncovered some amazing methods (in the form of books) from the past that have so helped my children who have struggled with numbers which I will share with you in the links section.
For those of us who have been given a Greek education, this title is puzzling. When we were in school, the only things that counted were regular subjects and school approved “extra-curricular activities.” Real life was not considered legitimate learning.
Biblical learning is almost totally opposite of that, and for a good reason. Some really honest educators have taken the time to prove that children do not take in (nor do they retain) information that is presented without context (see Dr. Raymond Moore). When children are surrounded by brick walls and startled with ringing bells on a consistent basis, everything they are fed tends to become unreal and irrelevant, so it is easily forgotten.
This is why we are turning out folks with 4.0 grade averages who haven’t a clue who George Washington was or who actually believe our entire society is socially malignant; not to mention the lack of familiarity with things such as responsibility and virtue.
However, when a child is surrounded with real things, such as a cozy couch where they can sit and read Shakespeare with a cat napping in their lap, then everything is legitimate learning, and everything counts.
Newborns, laundry, and home-made chocolate chip cookies are just the education most young people are missing out on when they are forced into concrete bunkers with armed guards at the doors. And within the context of real life, all of the other subjects gain new significance and what is learned is easily retained.
Now that we have covered the basic outline, let’s talk about procedure. It looks something like this:
Make some lists, including:
Keep this one sweet and real. Write down:
- Your child’s strengths
- Your child’s natural “bent” as you see it
- Your child’s weaknesses
Materials you already own
Go through your house and write down:
- Crafting materials and projects
- School supplies
- Videos you haven’t used
- Furniture and spaces (for studying or creating nature, music, crafting, and science stations).
Next, consider how you could use what you own to help you with your goals, and then decide where you have gaps. Then do some research and compile a (prayer) list of the items you think you will need.
For instance, I knew I had what I needed for early language arts with my Gentle Grammar series, but my daughter had been through this series and was ready for the next step. I didn’t think she was ready for a full-blown English grammar and punctuation program such as Harvey’s, but she still needed something formal to work on. I did some looking around and discovered The Child’s Own English Book on the Our House Homeschool website, and along with DK’s Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation, I was pretty sure we would have what we needed.
So, I put these items on my list to be printed and bound or purchased on the Internet.
After all of your items are procured, then you need to have a plan as to how you will use them. The most uncomplicated way to do this is to:
- Gather a bunch of books and materials.
- Make a stack for each of your children, and a stack for you to read aloud and enjoy together.
- Put these stacks into individual baskets or bins for each person/purpose.
- Purchase some basic school supplies, such as notebooks, binders, pencils, and composition books. Print off some notebooking pages and other fun stuff for free from the Internet.
- Each day spend time reading aloud and talking with your kids. Then spend time teaching them to read and have them read from their stack of books and write in their notebooks and notebooking pages.
- Take time to teach them interesting and useful things, such as how to care for babies and pets and how to iron a shirt.
- Play some logic games and add in a math book for each person.
Then, voila! Instant curriculum!
I’ve done this for years, and years, and it works.
I will show you the one I used recently (one of many I have done over the past 31 years) here.
First of all, I am sort-of a year-round homeschooler. Actually, I don’t keep that close track of things. We really do have stints of schoolish to-the-books type learning, which we all love, and then there are other stints where real life intersects with a whole bunch of delightful off-the-books learning. (Some would count these times as “breaks,” but I believe they are valuable, so I use The Record Book and count those in, too!)
In order to have all of this make sense for those who would be peeking in to “make sure” we are learning (ha ha), I have come up with this scheme:
I take the entire year–52 weeks–and split it into four equal parts of 13 weeks each. Some would call these “quarters,” but to distance myself from the mindset, I am calling them “batches.”
Next, I decided what each child could do in a day (supposedly six hours a day according to the officials in our state), then in a week, and I decided we needed nine weeks’ worth of work to be done in each “batch” of weeks.
This means in each batch of 13 weeks we do nine weeks’ worth of academics and have four weeks for interruptions (such as illness and holidays, or for doing some super-cleaning, baking, camping, swimming, visiting, etc.).
Now, I do keep a written record of all of my planning. I don’t use pretty paper or a page in an expensive dot-grid notebook. Instead, I do loads of scribbling on legal and steno pads when I am in the beginning stages (I choose these because I can get them fairly cheaply and so I am not inhibited by thoughts of wasting pages).
Then I take these notes and plug them in to forms I create using Microsoft Publisher. I’m including some for you here:
Now for some links.
I have been gathering and gathering so much stuff that I am bursting with excitement to share! I’m going to try and put them into categories, although they probably won’t behave themselves, so I may be repeating some of them throughout the rest of this post.
Websites brimming with links and ideas:
SO MUCH–vintage book links, unit studies all done up, some printables, Ruth Beechick’s philosophy of learning, and on and on…
This site has been so helpful to those of us who have huge ideas and small budgets. You can find everything here from homeschool philosophy, to full-blown curriculum lay-out, to simple book lists and links.
Since it was done a while back, not all the links work, and there are also some newer resources that are better than the ones listed. But don’t let this deter you; there is enough information here to keep you researching and learning for quite a while!
You may need to clear out half a day for exploring this one. I have spent a few hundred hours (at least) combing through the public domain books on this one site.
Some tips and tricks:
When you are searching for a book or title, make sure and click on the arrow by the “Any Books” menu, then choose “Free Google eBooks.” This way you will only be view those books you can download for free.
Once you find a title you are interested in, be sure and click the “add to my library” option so you won’t lose it. This also allows you to be able to read the book on your phone or other device with the Google Play app.
There is also a “Download PDF” option for you to select. This saves your book to your hard drive so you can print it out and bind it if you like.
For some books there is a “print on demand” option, which means you can pay for a book already printed. Sometimes this is a bit pricey, it just depends.
A great option is the “Similar Books” button, which will start you on a grand goose chase…an expedition I have embarked upon quite often!
As for the rest….
I have spent hours upon hours accumulating information to share with you, loads of which you will find here in this mega post, but if you are looking for something you can print out and squish into your purse while you are thrifting, etc., I compiled a PDF for you that you can find here:
Also, before we get too far into the links, let’s start with a simple list of general sources and resources we haven’t covered yet:
Lamplighter these books are so nicely done, but if you can’t afford them, try looking up the titles and authors on the free eBooks sites.
Answers in Genesis (look for the free online books here)
Call me old-fashioned, but there is just something about the feel of an actual, physical Bible. I like to take one and get closely acquainted with it, memorizing where my favorite passages are, tabbing it with sticky notes, underlining, scribbling notes in the margins, etc. I also want my children to enjoy this experience. Here is an interesting link for free options:
Still, there is a place for the online versions and apps. My favorite is Bible Hub, both online and app versions. This one includes an entire library of Greek and Hebrew lexicons that are instantly linked to the text, which is one of my favorite features. There are also commentaries and other helps, and the search engine is great!
My next favorite is YouVersion. This is great for straight reading, has the ability to sync with other family members, and you can even create verse graphics for social sharing.
I’m sure there are others–share in the comments below!
Printables for kids.
Here is a quick round up of just a few that I found that I have used or am planning to use (there must be a kajillion more!):
Magnify Him Together Bible resources galore…
Calvary Curriculum free printable Bible pages
Pre-Reading and Early Reading Resources
Teach Your Monster to Read one video game we actually encouraged for our children (we don’t normally allow video games).
In the Nursery of My Bookhouse nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales for reading aloud to young children
Reading-Literature series by Treadwell and Free:
Here are some interesting free resources for the Reading-Literature series:
Book Links Links
Meaningful Homeschooling Free Kindle Books (lots for the Robinson Curriculum list)
Links for Math
Why U goofy but informative and helpful math video series
Common Core Sheets I hate the “common core” idea and methodology, but these sheets (and sheet generator) can be used with any method.
Free Math Program both online exercises and printable worksheets
Spelling and Language Arts
Math and Language Arts
Printable Worksheets (Dorling Kindersley-nice)
Scattered Squirrel bunches of nice FREE planner pages, some we are using for school
Homeschool Helper loads of free printables
Music and Art Study (just some highlights)
Art Renewal Center online museum dedicated solely to realistic art
Freebies on Mom Delights
First of all, I’d like to add a few new collections of notebooking pages that I just created a few weeks ago that you may find very helpful:
Homeschool for Cheap or Free Literature for Boys and Girls Notebooking Pages
Now for the rest: