Free Homeschool Curriculum vs. Paid Programs

Parents, choosing to create your own free homeschool curriculum if this is your first year home schooling will benefit your child over a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all Christian or secular curriculum.

However, you might want to think about these tips first before handing over hundreds of dollars on materials that are hard to use.

Although I can understand why you might want to hurry to buy an already made curriculum if you haven't assessed your child's needs, you may find a pre-packaged program more cumbersome than helpful. 

If your child has been in the public schools for very long, how much do you really know about what she has learned? 

If you have more than one child, are you sure that each one is at his or her given grade level?

The only way to be sure is to evaluate each child.

Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

What if your child wants to study about the ancient wonders of the world? 

Creating your own free homeschool curriculum will serve their needs better. 


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$Save Some Money$

The first year I homeschooled my sons, I paid $600 for each child for a total of $1,800. It was less expensive than the private Catholic school they had been attending, but I could have saved myself this money if I'd followed these suggestions. 

1.    Don’t buy a curriculum right off the bat. You’ll most likely only be wasting your money and creating more headaches for yourself than you can imagine. 

The truth is that you don’t really know what material is covered over a nine-month period, and your child may not be able to learn at grade level.

When you choose a curriculum, you become locked into it, unless you buy a new one.

AndI have read numerous posts from parents whose children are not successful with one program and needed to find another in a hurry. 

While it’s not quite the same as the goose-stepping that goes on in the publics, you probably won’t meet your child’s needs by just forking over a bunch of money, and saying, “Here’s your new education.”

Seven Wonders statue of Zeus

Mythology is an exciting study not only for ancient literature but also for what a child learns about humanity and history. Mythology is only covered for a short unit in the 9th grade, but you could expand it according to your child's interests. 

2.    Pre-test first. Study your child’s present knowledge by using different materials to find out what your child’s educational levels are in reading, writing, and mathematics Do this before shelling out upwards to $500 or more per child. It’s easy enough to find out your child’s reading level. 

  • Reading assessment – Follow this link and have her take this reading skills test. Scroll down the page until you get to the San Diego Quick Assessment of Reading Ability. This will tell you the grade-level vocabulary that she can read. Then, have your child read a passage at that reading level, answer the questions at the end, and evaluate her responses. If she answers the questions correctly, that’s her reading comprehension level too. Choose books that are at that level and a bit higher to challenge her reading, but not so much higher that she becomes discouraged.
  • Writing assessment – Have her write a 250-word composition about three of her most favorite pastimes, and give details about why she enjoys them. Remind her to begin with an introductory paragraph and end with a conclusion. From this you should be able to evaluate her grammar usage, sentence variety, organization, spelling, and many other writing skills.

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  • Math assessment – The first thing you can do is test her multiplication table. If she doesn’t know up to the 12s solidly; then, begin working on that. She really won’t be able to do division, fractions, or understand anything else if she doesn’t know and have confidence in her times’ tables.

3. Learn more about her strengths. By that I mean test her multiple intelligences. By adapting her lessons and focusing on her strengths and encouraging her in other intelligences, you can become more aware of how best she can acquire the information she needs to learn, especially if you choose a free homeschool curriculum.

4. Review alternative textbooks.  For example, look for primary source history books or autobiographies. Creating a free homeschool curriculum will allow you to choose oceanography or environmental science over physical science.  When you learn to evaluate texts more critically, you can focus on the information that is important. By important, I mean three things:

  •  What do you personally consider important for your child to know?
  •  What will need to pass standardized tests in the future?
  •  What are your child’s interests?

Here's The Harsh Reality!

If your child is reading below level, she will have difficulty completing the work in any given curriculum you purchase. The consequences for you are that you will have to remediate all year long with material that is at too high a level for her.

For example, if your child’s reading level is that of a 4th grader and she is in the 6th grade, she won’t understand the majority of what she reads on her own.

Because she won't understand the work, she will lack confidence to work on her own.(That’s logical, right?). While you are there to teach her and guide her, you will have to constantly help her with all of her work in order to complete the pre-packaged curriculum.

Your goal-- one that a free homeschool curriculum could provide

  •  to be able to work independently, 
  • to read through a book, 
  • answer the questions, 
  • and understand the concepts on her own. 

You are there for guidance and “unsticking” when she gets stuck on a problem. It took my youngest son three years before he would even sit down with a book on his own and try to work the problems without me sitting right there next to him.

Also, depending on your child’s age, she may be reluctant to admit to reading problems. When I was teaching reading improvement for 9th graders, the students hated being in the class. All of the students knew they had been singled out and separated for lacking such a basic skill as reading, so they denied that they had a problem, cheated whenever they thought they could, and refused to learn what they needed.

Breaking down this barrier will be easier with a personalized free homeschool curriculum. Plus, your child has known that her reading skills have been sub-par since at least the fourth grade, so don’t be surprised if she’s reluctant to drop back a couple of grade levels in her reading.

Choose Unique Classes in A Free Homeschool Curriculum

Since reading to learn is vital in science, history, literature, and many other textbook-based courses, how will she learn the grade-level material if her reading skills aren’t at grade level? Creating a free homeschool curriculum will solve this problem as well. 

In fact, that is the reason that most kids fail these high-stakes tests.  

It’s not that they didn’t pay attention in science class; they fail because their reading and comprehension skills are below standard.

You may be asking yourself how can a child pass a grade level and not be at grade level.

That is a big question and requires its own blog. I'll write about grade inflation and grading standards at another time.

For example, meteorology and weather systems is an exciting field of science and could well be worth studying in depth if your child is so inclined. 

Remember, those high-priced, one-size-fits-all programs will always be out there if you decide to choose them, but it makes more sense to create a free homeschool curriculum  that will meet her unique needs and interests than confining her to the pricey canned curricula offered today. 

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