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How to Homeschool for Free
It is possible to homeschool your children for free if you have time, a local library and access to the Internet.In fact, you may find that putting together a creative curriculum that is completely individualized to the needs of your family is a lot easier than you thought it was.
The first step is to make sure that you know what your state requires that you teach. This way, you can make sure that your curriculum meets all necessary requirements. It is frustrating to get halfway through a school year and find out that you were supposed to have taught state history rather than the history of Samaria.
Make a Plan
Get a notebook and write down an overview of what you would like to accomplish during the year in each subject. This will be your map, so to speak. It doesn't have to be detailed, a few words is enough. For example a history overview might look something like this:
- September – Native Americans
- October – Explorers
- November – Colonies
- December – Break
- January – Revolutionary War
- February – Industrial Revolution
- March – Westward Expansion
- April – Texas Independence
- May – Slavery/ Civil War
With these details in mind you can choose books, activities, and movies that provide the information and experiences your child needs to help him grasp the reality of the lives and events in each time period.
When you are creating your weekly or monthly learning plans you should refer back to your overview to ensure that you are staying on track.
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Basic Required Subjects
The subjects that you are required to teach will vary slightly according to your state but you should plan on teaching at least the following:
Math is an easy subject to teach for free at the elementary level but once your child gets into more advanced math you will probably want to have a book and teacher's guide to use. In the elementary years you can teach the basics in practical ways as well as utilizing the many games and videos on the Internet.
- Language arts include:
- Creative writing
Keeping a journal, using the copywork method and reading good books are all ways that you can teach English skills for free. You will probably want to have a book about grammar rules to use as reference.
Being active is important for good health and most school districts require that your child engages in some sort of physical activity at school. For the homeschooler this usually happens naturally in the course of the day during outside play. If your child is involved in team sports or takes a gymnastics or karate class you have met the requirement.
There are a variety of ways for your child to learn science.
- Biographies of scientists from the library
- Books about inventions
- Discovery channel
- Internet games and research
- Nature notebooks
Adding a chemistry set or one of the many packaged science projects will round out your study and keep it interesting.
Social studies consist of:
- American history
- Ancient history
- World history
- Civics and citizenship
Reading good historical fiction, biographies, and accounts of the events of the past are all good ways to learn history. You can use the history channel, movies based on historical events, and field trips to local museums and historic sites to create an interesting and inclusive history program.
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Knowing how to use the Internet is an important skill when you plan on homeschooling, and especially if you want to homeschool for free. Type a subject in your favorite search engine and there are games available in almost every subject, thousands of free videos on Youtube, which include math, history, science and even foreign languages. You can find pages of information about anything you wish to study as well as printables and images to illustrate those subjects. In fact, there is so much information that you can't possibly use it all and you will have to be selective in what you use and teach.
Tips for Using the Internet
- Use specific terms. Choose terms like Life in Colonial America rather than the less specific term, American History.
- Make folders for different subjects and arrange your bookmarks in the various folders. It makes it easier to find what you are looking for later on.
- Stay on task; it is easy to get distracted when you are surfing the net and lose hours of time on rabbit trails.
- Have a plan. Don't just choose random studies that seem interesting. American history should begin with a study on Native American, progress through the explorers, then the Pilgrims and colonies, etc.
- Print out the printables you will need for the entire week or month to save time later.
- Use sample lessons available online from curriculum publishers. Most of them have free lesson plans.
Use Your Library
There are usually thousands of books on every subject imaginable at your local library. You can create your own unit studies and gather the books you will need. Most libraries have other resources such as artwork, DVDs, and even lectures that you can attend to add more details to your study. Your librarian can be a valuable resource as well, helping you find books and other media as well as keeping you informed about upcoming events.
For the best results with library resources you will need to plan your study in one to two week blocks. Flexibility is key since there will be times that the book you planned on using might be unavailable when you need it. Don't check out more books than you can get through in the time allotted.
Biographies are available in almost every subject area. Reading about people who have impacted society in significant ways helps your child learn about the time period, the person, and the significance of what they accomplished.
Learning through Life Experience
Your child will learn much of what he needs to know just from being with you, doing chores, and having responsibilities. Expose him to as many experiences as possible through field trips, outings, and local events.
Most children have interests that they pursue on their own, whether it is anime or basketball. Something that he learns well on his own is as much a part of his education as something you spent weeks teaching him.
You may have a friend or a neighbor that has a skill that they would be willing to teach your child in trade for housework, a cake, or some errands run. This is a great way to provide music lessons for your child at little or no cost to yourself.
Have you ever talked about current events or some interesting bit of information while you were driving to the store or eating dinner? These moments are opportunities for learning and just as valuable as a text book, if not more so.
Make Your Home a Rich Learning Environment
- Having a variety of materials for experiments, crafts, reading, and other activities can keep your child learning all the time.
- Always keep plenty of paper and art supplies for creative expression. Creating things is an important part of your child's development.
- Printer paper and word programs allow students to create stories, reports, and other documents.
- Cable TV can be a blessing or a curse. When used wisely your child can benefit from things like the History Channel, Animal Planet, etc.
- Keep items for impromptu science experiments; litmus paper, gelatin, etc.
- Choose games that teach skills. Monopoly, Scrabble, and Balderdash all help children learn while having fun.
You will need to have confidence in your ability to teach as well as your child's ability to learn. It can be intimidating when you hear other homeschool mom's discussing tests, textbooks, and grades at the homeschool support group meeting. You will need to be sure of what you are doing and your ability to do it.
Knowing how to homeschool for free can be helpful whether you are going through a tough time financially or you just prefer to have more control over what your child learns than you would have with a text book. With the money you save on curriculum you can give your child unique learning experiences that are specific to his interests.