Free homeschool curriculum can mean several different things. This article explores some different meanings and how you can assess what’s available.
What Is Curriculum?
The word curriculum is used both to mean the entire plan of a course or subject of study, as well as the entire plan of study available at a particular institution or organization. But people also use it to refer to curriculum materials or resources – the important components of a course that are used to convey the content – and if you seek “free homeschool curriculum” on the Internet, that’s what your likely to find: materials and resources.
This means that what you might find includes course plans, lesson plans, worksheets, literature,
Types of Free Homeschool Curriculum
With this definition in mind, lets consider where you might get “free homeschool curriculum”.
- by Googling on the Internet
- by trading with other homeschooling families
- by borrowing materials from your local public library
- by using free resources like Project Gutenberg, which has out of copyright literature
- by asking schools for used textbooks that they would otherwise discard
Substantive offers of free homeschool curriculum materials on the Internet include the following:
- Video Placement Worldwide (vpw.com), free print material and educational videos.
- MIT Open Courseware (ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index) free courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- any US government agency media, which by law must be in the public domain, and curriculum materials, for example,
- NASA images – images.jsc.nasa.gov
- the Library of Congress resources for Kids, Families, and Teachers – loc.gov/index
• BBC Schools – Bitesize – bbc.co.uk/schools/revision. If you can get past the British English, there are fun ways to review (which they call “revise”) lots of content here.
• Merlot World Languages Portal (worldlanguages.merlot.org), which provides a wide range of support materials for learning languages.
• Museum 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
Warning – Is It Really Free?
Watch out for free online material that is not actually free. For example, K12 FreeHomeSchool found here: (k-12freehomeschool.org/) has incidental and elective fees and shipping and handling fees and requires the parent to have a valid credit or debit card on file with the organization. In addition, charges may apply for “optional elective courses, course upgrades, and other goods and services.” There are also fees to add or drop courses.
Warning – Is it Actually of Any Value?
Here are some questions to ask to determine if free homeschool curriculum is of any value to you.
- Is it age/development appropriate for you child?
- Is it in a subject area that 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 justification for introducing it to your school program?
- Are the aims of the material clear? Is it well-calculated to meet those aims?
- 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?