How Our Family Is Homeschooling For (Nearly!) Free This Year
Yep, you read the title right.
Our family is homeschooling for — nearly! — free this year. I have four kids ranging in age from 5-12 and I’ve pulled all of their core curriculum from free websites, only supplementing with paid subscriptions and resources for some of the “extras”.
Is it possible to homeschool a large-ish family on a shoestring budget? You betcha!
Below, I’ll outline why we’ve chosen to go the free route and what resources I’m using with my kids (links included!).
Let’s get started.
Why I Opted To Use Free Resources In Our Homeschool
I’ll start by saying that we’re a one-income family on a tight budget. That means I have to be really thoughtful with our homeschool purchases.
In the past, I’ve used a mixture of free websites, printables, and workbooks I’ve found at Walmart, Target, or on Amazon.
As my kids get older (and we get busier!), I wanted to streamline our days. I’m a single work-from-home mom, so time and energy are hot commodities. Hoping to find a way to save both, I thought maybe an all-in-one online curriculum was the answer.
Ultimately, despite tons of research and careful consideration before buying, an online curriculum wasn’t the right fit for my kids.
What’s a frugal mom to do when she discovers the curriculum she just dropped a large chunk of change on doesn’t work for her kids?
After trying — and failing — to make it work, I decided we needed to change course. However, because I was not ready to drop the big bucks on any more expensive curriculum, I went back to our early days of learning at home and scoured the interwebz for free resources.
And guess what? I hit the jackpot. There is so much out there if you take the time to look. Far more than I could fit into one blog post, but suffice it to say that if a family wanted to homeschool entirely for free — for any reason — it’s totally doable.
Now that you know our why, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how we manage to homeschool without the stereotypical costly curriculum.
How We’re Homeschooling On A Shoestring Budget
Here, I’m going to share each of the free sites that make up our core curriculum. I’ll also include a quick rundown of other educational resources we use in our homeschool on a regular basis.
A quick disclaimer — my youngest is 5 and a bit developmentally delayed. We’re using a jumbo preschool workbook I picked up at Aldi for $3.99 and supplementing with printable games and worksheets, hands-on learning activities, and LOTS of free play. The resources listed below are what I use for my older three who are 7, 8, and 12.
For math, my kids are using Free Math Program. Yes, that’s actually the name of the website. At first glance, it seems very “bare bones” and dry. However, once you really dig into the website, you’ll see that it’s actually an incredibly comprehensive elementary math curriculum.
It’s important to note that Free Math Program doesn’t actually teach the math lessons for you. We use this program as a spine and then build on the concepts that are presented. We use real life math, board games, online games, math read-alouds, and YouTube videos to solidify the lessons taught.
Overall, the combination of Free Math Program and hands-on math activities together provide a well-rounded math education for all of my kids.
I’ll start by saying that I’m an avid reader and write for a living. There’s nothing I love more than a good story. My kids get books every Christmas and birthday and we make reading a priority in our home. We read together often, listen to audiobooks in the car and during quiet time, subscribe to multiple audio and ebook streaming services, and frequent our library on a regular basis. My goal is to make reading something that is fun and enjoyable; not simply a box to check off for school.
For my oldest, this is enough. He also takes stacks of books to bed each night and lays awake reading with his headlamp for at least an hour after “lights out”. The next morning, he’s always excited to tell me all about what he read the night before. I don’t need him to complete a book report or fill out a worksheet to know he’s learning.
My middle kids — each at their own pace — have learned to read fluently this year thanks to Starfall’s free Learn to Read program. This program is thorough and complete. It has worked well for both of my struggling readers when nothing else we tried seemed to click. To get the most out of the free portion of the site, be sure to include the printable readers and writing journal in your lesson plan.
For my middle two, we’re using the writing journals from Starfall’s Learn to Read program. These correspond with the reading lessons on the site. Whether these work for your kids or not will depend on where they’re at academically.
If they’re past the “learning to read” stage, the Scott Foresman Grammar and Writing workbooks are an excellent choice. My oldest is working through the Scott Foresman workbooks this year. You can find the entire collection online for free. These workbooks are comprehensive and seem to resonate well with my son’s learning style.
We, of course, also incorporate real life writing into our days as well. My kids write letters, thank you cards, shopping lists, holiday wish lists, made up stories, and more. The best part: they don’t even realize they’re learning!
For spelling, my kids use K12 Reader. This is an incredible resource with word lists made up of word families, sight words, and academic vocabulary for each grade level. K12 Reader also has activities that accompany each week’s word list. As a bonus, there are reading comprehension passages that incorporate the weekly spelling words.
K12 Reader also has a ton of other reading and writing activities that we supplement with on occasion. My only complaint about this website is that it’s bogged down with ads. You can pay a fee to get rid of the ads, and even with the fee, it’s still a steal of a deal. If you can get past the ads, K12 reader is a resource any frugal homeschool mom needs to have in her toolbox.
Other Resources We Use In Our Homeschool
Though I source from free websites for the three R’s — reading, writing, ‘rithmetic — I’ve also invested in a few subscription sites to enhance our daily learning.
The resources I’m sharing below are a mixture of free and paid. I’ve added a “*” next to each site I’ve spent any money on.
It would take far more than one blog post to share all the free resources I’ve found over the years to homeschool my kids.
And that’s not my goal today.
My hope is that you’ll see that even if you’re homeschooling on a dime, your child can still have a rich educational experience. All it takes is an internet connection and a little motivation (oh, and research skills help too!).
Let’s keep the conversation going. Share your favorite free learning sites in the comments section below!
Modified On Jun 3, 2023 By Isaac How can you make the most of your university life? What is…