I have been approached by several new and aspiring homeschoolers seeking advice about how to homeschool for free.
The purpose of this post is to help you sort through the options available and hopefully save you some time so you can narrow down your search when seeking resources for your child.
I am not trying to list every free resource as there are so many out there that I couldn’t hope to be comprehensive and whatever I recommend would be biased based on what I like and not necessarily be a good match for your needs. However, at the bottom of the post you will find some links to help you get started.
Is it possible to homeschool for free?
In some cases yes, in most cases you can come pretty close! People have different definitions of what “free” truly means. For the purposes of this post, I will consider free as being “free of monetary cost”. The trade off is that all options will require a time investment and some may come at the cost of privacy or freedom.
Since you are reading this I assume that you already own a computer and pay for internet access. That isn’t free but you may not see it as an educational expense since you are paying for it anyway. For some types of homeschooling Internet access is all that you will need.
Can you homeschool without a computer and internet access?
Yes! Families homeschooled for generations without computers or the internet back when they were not as widely available as they are now.
Isn’t there always a catch?
Not always. With some options, the catch is some loss of personal freedom and privacy. Many “free” sites require registration, and even if they don’t sell their mailing list to others, they still may annoy you with e-mails.
Some sites say they are “teacher-led.” This means that some stranger, entirely unfamiliar with your child’s learning style, will be directing what goes on in your home. Free materials may subscribe to a world view that you don’t agree with or by tailored towards a learning style that isn’t compatible with your child’s.
What are the “hidden costs”?
The cost will vary depending on the approach chosen. You may need a computer with Internet access, a printer with ink/toner and paper. You may need a car or bus/train fare if the library is not within walking distance. You may have to pay library fines if you are not careful (click here for tips to avoid library fines) and you may have to buy school supplies such as paper, writing instruments, science and craft supplies.
The approaches to free homeschooling:
- Library Schooling: libraries offer a wealth of resources and information. If your library doesn’t carry a book that you are looking for they may order it for you or request it from another library on your behalf. Many libraries also offer educational programs such as storytime, robotics, Lego sessions, history lectures and more.
- Free lesson plans: Free lesson plans are available where the course of study and lessons have already been laid out for you. Sometimes they include worksheets and materials. Other times they require you to use books and materials that are not free unless you are able to borrow them from the library.
- Free printables: There are many resources available to download and print. Some printables are complete courses while others may just be centered around a specific topic (such as Unit Studies). Many times the printables do not include the lesson plan so you can incorporate them however you like. It is possible to find free printables on virtually every subject, topic or grade that you can think of but it will require a time investment to research them all and identify the best one for your needs.
- Free Online curriculum: Some online curriculum includes everything that is needed and is completed on the computer so you don’t have to print anything and the lesson planning is done for you.
- Free E-books: Amazon has a wide assortment of free e-books available including some high school text books, you do not need a Kindle device to read them. Some books are always free while others are free for a limited time as part of a special promotion so it pays to check every once in a while. Other sites also offer ebooks for free.
- Free printed curriculum: This can be found from many sources. In exchange you have to give the business some personal information such as your address in order to get the free sample, in most cases you will then you receive offers for their more expensive products.
- Homeschool Support Group: Some groups may meet locally and have no dues, many are internet only groups (such as in Facebook). Support group members are often willing to loan/ sell/ barter or give their no longer needed materials to their support group friends. They may also barter some lessons, this is helpful when your child wants to learn something that you are not good at and can’t just get a book about the subject, such as horse riding, but it can be done for any subject.
- Free field trips: these can be found at many manufacturing and service businesses, you just need to ask! Locally the fire department, post office and many private businesses offer free tours to homeschoolers. Most don’t have a group minimum and for those that do it isn’t usually hard to find other homeschoolers willing to join. Depending on your area there may be parks and monuments that are free to visit.
- Public charter schools: their availability (and quality) will vary by state. Many of them offer to reimburse you for educational supplies and activities. Sounds pretty cool at first. But like every thing free, there is a price in personal freedom to pay.
- Free tutoring: this is often be offered by senior citizens, who are willing to talk with a youngster in exchange for some company each week.
- Free software and apps: Freeware usually comes with advertising or limited features. Be careful that you are getting it from the original source as third party copies may be infected with viruses.
- Unschooling: You don’t buy curriculum or research materials or create lesson plans. Learning is child led and all you need to do is provide venues to satisfy their natural curiosity. You can incorporate any components from the approaches mentioned above but it’s not required.
I hope that you found this information helpful, homeschooling is a totally liberating experience. It may cost as much or as little as you want it to.
Resources: (in no particular order)
Homeschool your Child for Free book
Scholastic for Teachers
Google for Educators
Smithsonian for Educators
PBS Teacher Resource
Prodigy Math Game
Teach Your Monster to Read
Free Homeschool Deals– very ad intensive website and newsletter but offers a lot of good information linking to free resources from many other websites. A lot of deals are available for a limited time so you will want to either follow the page or get e-mail updates so you won’t miss out.
Easy Peasy All in One Online Homeschool– it’s faith based but many secular homeschoolers report that it’s not hard to skip the Christian stuff
Clickschooling– Get 1 free, Web-Based Curriculum Idea Every Day — Monday Through Saturday! You can view past resources on their website.
These are just a sample of the hundreds of free resources available, have one to add? Share it in the comments!