Although it sounds like an amazing idea to cut your homeschool costs by getting a free homeschool curriculum, there are definitely pros and cons to free homeschooling. If you are new to homeschooling then sorting through all the homeschool curriculum reviews and different types of homeschool curriculum can be overwhelming. This article will hopefully help you sort through some of your questions about homeschool curriculum and help you decide what will work best for you, your family, and your homeschool needs.
What is Curriculum?
There are two ways you can look at the word curriculum as one may be referring to a single subject or an entire study plan and course of action. But typically when researching free homeschool curriculum the results you will find are going to be more along the lines of free homeschool materials and resources and not an actual entire complete homeschool program. You will likely be able to find bits and pieces of free materials such as: lesson plans, worksheets, literature, organizers, etc…
Types of Free Homeschool Curriculum
There are a number of ways you may come by free educational materials you could use for homeschooling purposes. Here are a few ways to obtain free homeschool education materials:
- Trading used homeschool textbooks, worksheets, projects, etc…with other homeschool families.
- Borrow education materials from your local public library.
- Get free resources like those offered from Project Gutenberg.
- Ask local schools for used textbooks they are no longer using and intend to discard.
- Search the Internet for free homeschool curriculum resources and materials.
You may wish to use government type sites to obtain resources on certain topics such as the NASA website – nasa.gov, the Library of Congress site – loc.gov, Merlot World Languages Portal – worldlanguages.merlot.org, etc… There are also a great number of museum sites that offer education curriculum such as:
- The Smithsonian Institution – (si.edu)
- The Metropolitan Museum Collection Database – (metmuseum.org/Works_of_Art/collection_database/)
- The Art Institute of Chicago Online Collection – (artic.edu/aic/collections)
- The Museum of Fine Arts-Boston Educators Online – (educators.mfa.org/home)
- San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park Education – (sandiegozoo.org/education/index)
- Public Television programming, like Sesame Street or Masterpiece Theater, as well as PBS Teachers – (pbs.org/teachers)and PBS Kids – (pbskids.org/findit)
- Radio programming like ABC Australia’s “Keys to Music” with Graham Abbott – (abc.net.au/classic/keys/)
- Food Network shows like Alton Brown’s “Good Eats,” which explains food chemistry
Is Free Homeschool Curriculum Really FREE?
Make sure when searching for free homeschool curriculum that there are no hidden fees. There are many free homeschool websites that offer a few free items but you may still be required to pay shipping and handling fees, or they may offer you something free only to try to sell you on their upgraded versions and additional materials. You may still be able to find good deals on these sites and even find what you are looking for at reasonable costs. Just be aware that just because they offer “free” products does not mean they are going to absorb all the costs in getting the materials to you and are probably hoping you are one of those people that feel like they need to buy something from someone if they are giving you something for free.
Is Free Homeschool Curriculum the Best Value for Your Education?
When researching and trying to find the best homeschool curriculum for your family, here are a few questions you may wish to ask yourself:
- Is it age/development appropriate for your child?
- Is it in a subject your child is studying as part of your homeschool plan? If not, is it in an area of special interest or is there some other reason to introduce it to your school program?
- Are the goals of the material clear? Is it well-calculated to meet those goals?
- Is any information presented accurate and unbiased?
- Is it complete? If there are questions, are there answers?
- Do you have any other materials, supplies, tools, or instruments that are required for the curriculum?
I like to keep in mind the old adage, “you get what you pay for” when seeking something for free. That is not to say that all free homeschool curriculum is garbage. As homeschooling becomes more popular and there are more advocates of homeschooling there seems to be more and more free resources and materials available all the time. Ultimately we all want the best for our children and want to provide them with the best education we can, and I for one, am all for anywhere we can all save some money in the process.