Aug 042016
 

How-to-Homeschool-for-Free-FBI 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

Khan Academy

Discovery Education

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.

Amazon offers some textbooks in Ebook format for free.  Like with anything on Amazon results and prices can change at any time.

These are just a sample of the hundreds of free resources available, have one to add? Share it in the comments!

Jan 112016
 

When I decided to start homeschooling I was thrilled to see so many options for being able to do it for free. Having a limited budget and being frugal minded I decided that’s the way I wanted to go. It’s nice to think that you just need to buy paper, ink, pencils and crayons and everything else is taken care of.

It wasn’t until I left the realm of theoretical homeschooling and delved into the application that I realized that it’s not so easy and it’s not a good fit for everyone. While some parents have great success using Easy Peasy, Discovery K-12 or one of the other online sources to homeschool for free. Those programs were not a good fit for my child.

There is a huge wealth of information from e-books, tutorials, printables, local library and more available for free so even those that can’t fit in the cookie cutter curriculum mold could still homeschool for free (or for the cost of toner and paper) but while that could fit my child, it didn’t fit me.

I found this to be very costly in terms of time. Time spent sorting through all of the e-mail newsletters and blog notifications of new homeschooling “freebies”, time navigating the endless sources for the material to find those that would be the right fit, time organizing all of the downloaded files in such a way that I would find it easily and remember to use them. Time printing, collating and then planning. While the system was workable, it was too time consuming and time is money.

I want to spend more time educating my son than planning my son’s education.

So I found that purchasing materials was a low price to pay to have more time for my children, my husband, work, volunteering and let’s not forget sleep!

We are still not fans of the cookie cutter approach. Our curriculum choices vary by subject to fit our needs and boy, it fits well. I still use free online resources, mostly unit studies for holidays and the like but it’s amazing how much time I have available now that I don’t have to search the web for every little thing.

One of the reasons I chose homeschooling is because it’s cheaper than public education (even though tuition is “free” or prepaid via taxes, there are still a lot of costs associated with sending your child to school) and while some homeschooling parents spend thousands of dollars in curriculum and supplies per year; I have found a wide assortment of quality options at an affordable price so that even with purchasing materials, I am still spending less than if I sent my son to school. Having an “avoid paying full price” approach to life sure helps as most of the time I can find a sale, discount code or used resource.

I frequently get asked what curriculum and materials we are using so I will be creating a separate post for that soon.

Jul 062015
 

how-to-find-free-kindle-booksI love to read, during good days I read an average of 1 book per day.  I don’t have room in my budget for books so what is a bibliophile girl to do?

Over the years I have learned a variety of methods to get ebooks for free.  I have accumulated over 1,000 books on my Kindle and have paid for no more than 10 of them so I’ll share these methods with you.
In order to take advantage of these tips you will need a Kindle app which is available for free for mobile phones, tablets and computer both Android and Apple.

 

Completely Free Ebook sources:
Library books via the Overdrive app:
If you have a library card, there is a chance that your library offers free ebooks.  Many libraries throughout the country use the Overdrive platform available as a free app.  My library has very limited books so I mainly use this when looking for something new as I don’t ever have luck when searching for a specific title.  The app does give me the option of recommending that the library purchase a book that they don’t currently offer but there is no guarantee that they will buy it.

 

This option is great for books that have lending enabled on Amazon.  There are several book lending websites but this one worked best for me.  You have to be willing to lend books to be able to borrow books, and the system has limits as to how many books you can borrow before forcing you to earn more “credit”.  I simply offered to lend books that I had gotten for free from Amazon so that I could borrow ones that were not free.  This worked well for me a few years ago but I seem to have maxed out and no matter what I do I seem to be unable to earn new borrowing credit.  It’s still a good option for somebody new to the site to take advantage of while it lasts.  Please use referral code: UDFUMO59

 

Free books direct from Amazon:
There are thousands of free books on Amazon.  Sometimes an author will give the first book of a series for free in hopes that you’ll get hooked and buy the rest of the series.  Sometimes they discount the price to $0 for a limited time, sometimes only 24 hours or until a certain number of copies are sold.  It can be tricky to find these free books just by searching on the Amazon site.  Thankfully there is no shortage of services that will do the homework for you.  Below are just a few that I use, there are dozens of them and some are better than others.

 

Available as an email list and Kindle Fire app. The list is updated daily and lists lots of free and discounted books.   This is my favorite source as I can choose from 22 genres to only be notified about the books that I am interested in.

 

Others include:  Kindle Nation Daily, BookLending.com, Discount Books Daily, Book Sends, Riffle Select.  Not all of the books on these newsletters are free so make sure that you double check before you click “buy now”. Don’t sign up to too many lists as you will need to check your e-mails daily due to the fact that most books are only free for a limited time.  I used to be signed up to 20 lists and would fall behind and by the time I got around to reading them all and finding a book that I was interested in, it was no longer free.

 

Blog, Facebook page and e-mail list.  These websites offer a lot more than free ebooks but they do have an almost daily of free Kindle titles of interest to homeschoolers that include children’s books, cooking, housemaking, life hacks, gardening, clean fiction  (mostly Christian but still interesting stories) and faith based books.

 

There are thousands of books that are part of the public domain and thus can be read for free.  There are several sites that have them such as Project Gutenberg, Page by Page Books and the Library of Congress

 

Resources that are not quite free but offer a great value:
If you have Amazon Prime and own an actual Kindle device (sorry, the app doesn’t count) you can borrow 1 book per month for free

 

Another perk from Amazon Prime- every month you’ll be allowed to choose 1 out of 4 books being released the next month to get for free.

 

This is a Netflix for Ebooks, for $10 per month you can read as many books as you want.  I actually haven’t used this service but I see a lot of the books that I read are available in this library.

 

How do I get books that are never free and my library doesn’t carry?
Another perk of having Amazon Prime is the ability to earn credit towards ebooks.  Instead of selecting free 2 day shipping on my Amazon order I choose “No Rush Shipping”. The item will arrive a little later but still within the week and Amazon gives me $1 ebook credit per order for my trouble.  If I am ordering multiple items I place separate orders to get credit for each.  The credit can also be used for MP3s and streaming video but I just accumulate it to purchase ebooks, usually sequels after I have been hooked to an author’s freebie.

 

By using these tips you will be able to get lots of books to read at no cost.  Don’t expect to get New York Times Bestsellers for free (although sometimes that does happen and I find out about it thanks to BookGorilla) but at least you will never run out of stuff to read.

 

Just keep in mind that some free books are written by new, self published authors and the quality of their work varies greatly.  Some are very talented and produce excellent pieces and others were too cheap to hire an editor so the text is full of errors, at least you won’t be out of any money when you run into the latter.

 

There are literally hundred of free ebook sources online, for the sake of brevity I only mentioned the ones that I have used the most.  You are invited to do a Google search to find more if you wish.  Do you have a favorite resource not listed here?  Please let me know in the comments.

 

Read reviews, keep an open mind and happy reading.