Monday, September 13, 2010

Homeschooling Curricula on a Shoestring

People like to tell me that I should be prepared for lots of expenses if I plan on homeschooling my boys. After all, I've got to buy school supplies, curriculum, school books, and lots more. They are wont to tell me that homeschooling is not a frugal venture.
I beg to differ.
I am going to homeschool. And I'm going to do so frugally. And not like the other homeschoolers' "frugal homeschooling", because they spend a lot more than I plan on spending. Because when I do something frugally, I do it extremely frugally. I plan on educating my children at home with barely spending a cent. This is part one of my Homeschooling on a Shoestring series.

Homeschoolers have 4 main areas in which they usually spend money, most of which is extraneous spending that is wholly unnecessary if money is too tight. Cutting back on homeschooling costs doesn't mean a sub par education, it just means rethinking what we assume is standard learning material.
The 4 areas of expenditure in homeschooling are curricula, schoolbooks, school supplies, and field trips. Today I'll be covering the area of curricula.

Homeschooling Curriculum on a Shoestring

Teachers in school use curricula when teaching different subjects. Understandably, when people venture forth to school at home, they often subconsciously (or consciously) try to make a small scale classroom in their house, including all the things that are part of a standard school. Bought curricula seem an almost necessity to some, because, after all, how else will they know what to teach their kids? How else will they make sure to cover all the necessary information that a kid should be acquiring by a certain age?

I'm an unschooling minded person; I'm not too worried that my son won't learn "what he should be learning."  I follow the unschooling notion that kids will pick up what they need to know plus a whole heck of a lot more, so long as learning isn't shoved down their throat. I'm not overly concerned that we "cover every topic" in the book. I don't really believe in following a structured curriculum, as I don't think that that is the most conducive to raising a child who is eager to learn.
However, I do realize that a large chunk of homeschoolers do feel structured learning is important, and so they fork over hundreds of dollars to purchase a set curriculum for their child.
This, in my opinion, is an unnecessary purchase if money is tight.

So, you're skipping buying a curriculum because you want to allocate your money for other things. How, then, do you know what to teach your child and make sure that you've covered all the topics?
With internet and some handy googling skill.
We live in a glorious age in which worlds are available at our fingertips. (One big reason why I'd never get rid of my internet, no matter how strapped I am for cash.) Knowing the correct words for which to search the net allows you to get all the information you need for free.
You want a curriculum? You want to know what to teach your child and make sure you've got all the bases covered?

Most states have developed a standard curriculum. I assume that this is because they want to ensure that all children graduating within that state have covered certain core subjects.
Lucky us, because many states have made their "curriculum standards" available online. To find these curriculum standards, you just enter curriculum standards and the name of a state (i.e. "Washington Curriculum Standards") into the search box and search away. Being a native Ohionan, I searched and found their curriculum standards online.
I came across a few different state's curriculum standards, but the one I liked best (because it is easiest to figure out and understand) was the one I found for Tennessee. Tennessee Curriculum Standard- if you click that link, you'll see a list of different subjects as well as Early Childhood, each of those being links to pages with curriculum standards for each grade. You open those pdf files and there will be detailed lists of what should be covered by a child in that grade. Using that curriculum standard as a basic, you can now use the internet to find methods of teaching each of those topics to your child.

Aside for each individual state's online curriculum standards, there also is a Common Core State Standard Initiative website that contains detailed information on what children should cover in math and language arts, all the way from kindergarten through graduation.

So no, you don't need to buy a curriculum for your child. Use the internet- its free!

Do you homeschool your children or know anyone that does? Do you think buying a curriculum is necessary for homeschooling parents, or do you agree with me that it is an unnecessary expenditure?

Next in this series- Cheapskate Schoolbooks for Homeschoolers.

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