Friday, 6 September 2013

Curriculum and money

I am thankful that I am able to buy the curriculum that we need. Yes, like anyone else I have to be sensible but we can buy the curriculum that we need. This isn't the case for everyone. So some of us, at the Schoolhouse Crew are writing about "What if there is no money for homeschool curriculum."

 Here are a few thoughts. I have previously written about 14 ways to save money on home education.

If there isn't money for curriculum, then it is essential to look at priorities.

  • most important subjects
  • most important items of curriculum
  • ages of children-there are plenty of preschool curricula around but it would be easier to do preschool without a written curriculum than to do without a maths book for a teenagers.
  • financial priorities-I guess that we all know people who say that they can't afford a course/curriculum or exams but can afford to go on holiday. This might be a valid choice for them but means that they have chosen not to afford the curriculum, not that they can't afford curriculum. If there is a choice between food and housing costs and curriculum, that really is can't afford.

Free curriculum on the internet
The internet is full of free home education materials. The big downside of this, is that much of it involves printing which is expensive and it also requires internet access which could also be an issue.
I haven't used Easy Peasy which is advertised as a "complete, free on-line Christian homeschool" but have heard good reports from users.

CIMT is a British maths programme which is free on line. Again, I haven't used it although when I was looking over, it certainly looked helpful for subjects that might need re-enforcement or further explanation. Some sections seem to be possible to answer on-line without printing.

Other free stuff
There are other free sources of books/curriculum.

  • the library might not have home education texts but will have read alouds/ a few early readers/art and history books. Yes, you might have to pick and chose. Here, in the UK, there usually aren't fines on children's book withdrawals.
  • shop your bookshelves. Do you have books from your own childhood to read aloud? Do you have an atlas/dictionary/art books already? Is there some curriculum that could be used but hasn't for some reason?
  • often home education groups have give aways when individual members bring along unwanted books. This tends to be rather ad hoc depending on when people turn out.
  • other friends may give or loan books. Home educators usually have some books out on loan!
  • Friends may have the right level maths book that they aren't using this year. 
  • there may be a home education library run by a group or individual.
  • Do you need a curriculum? Is there a subject that you know well and don't really need a curriculum? It is worth checking what is usually taught at a particular age. It may be a confidence boost that you can teach your young child maths or science.
  • Everyday life-there is so much that can be taught from everyday life particularly for younger children. Maths: number of places to lay at the table, skip counting in twos from house numbers, addition and subtraction with blackberries. English: making up stories about their favourite den, reading books, explaining how their model works, writing letters. History: local history-famous people, war memorials, local museums (usually free in the UK), family history and family tress. Geography: road atlases, maps in local parks, making a map of the local area on a large piece of paper or even on the ground, friends from other countries, missionaries in other countries. 
We haven't quite got to exams as yet but they are on the horizon. The way that UK exams work is that questions are specifically around a particular syllabus so it is essential to buy the correct book, for the right subject, from the right board. Home educators also have to pay to sit exams. So far, there hasn't been a cheap way around this. Of course, some books can be bought second hand although it is important to be careful about editions.
My understanding is that from September 2013, colleges will be funded for 14-16 year old home educated students who take courses and exams with them. This is new and sounds complex but might provide a cheaper way into the exam system.

Above all, pray. 

Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 
Matthew 6 v8

Homeschool for Free


  1. Hello
    A good list. Libraries can get books from other libraries for you, which helps a lot.

    As an ex-secondary school teacher, I'd like to point out that some textbooks are specially written by one publisher with an exclusive deal with an particular exam board. It can be a bit of a scam, especially if the book is for a new course, and hurriedly-written. In some subjects, you'd be better off with a knowledge and skills book, and then supplement with material available for FREE on the exam board websites. Otherwise you will end up with a child who passes the exam and doesn't have a good grasp of the subject.

    1. Anthea, that is a helpful point and something that I hadn't thought about before. I do find the narrowness of the GCSE specifications a bit constraining!