I can’t use free curriculum because…
If you’ve ever searched for “free curriculum” on Pinterest or Google, you know that the free resources available online to homeschoolers are endless. In fact, Google will give you 334 million results! However, homeschoolers are often leery of using free curriculum. Today I’ll address some of the most common reasons parents feel they can’t use free curriculum.
I can’t use free curriculum because I limit my children’s screen time.
I also feel that it’s important to limit children’s screen time. However, it’s possible to use free curriculum without your children using a computer or other device. Many of the free resources available are printable workbooks, such as MEP Math. Children complete these workbooks entirely offline. Others, like U READ THRU History and Homeschool Share, provide lesson plans for a literature-based curriculum using real books you can borrow from the library or purchase used.
Another way to use free curriculum, while limiting screen time, is to use online curriculum for only one or two subjects. For the rest of your child’s education, use traditional books and textbooks. Allowing each child to complete one subject online can free up time, allowing you to work with your children one on one more often. For example, while one of my children is online doing a typing lesson, practicing math facts, or watching a Spanish video, I can teach a grammar or math lesson to the other child uninterrupted.
I can’t use free curriculum because printing is too expensive.
I used to drool over all the cute full-color free printables on homeschool blogs and wonder how in the world people afford so much color ink. Sometimes it can cost even more to print these “free” resources than it would cost to purchase physical textbooks! Fortunately, there are many resources, like Plain and not so Plain’s free workbooks, which are mostly black and white. Also, many printables that contain some color can be printed in black and white without losing anything.
To save on printing costs, we use a black and white laser printer. The toner cartridges are only $13 and print about 2,500 pages. I only occasionally miss being able to print in color, but our kids are fine without all those colorful printouts. Remember, the public library has plenty of books that are full of beautiful illustrations and photographs.
Another way to save on printing costs is to skip binding and laminating your printed materials. Like doing lots of full-color printing, binding and laminating everything can quickly make that “free” curriculum not so thrifty. I simply use a three-hole punch and place our printed materials in a binder. No special equipment or trips to the office supply store are necessary.
I can’t use free curriculum because anything free must be poor quality.
Free does not mean that something is poor quality any more than paying for something guarantees that it will be high quality. We have all purchased products, even curriculum, which have disappointed us. Many free curriculums are very high quality. If you have concerns about the quality of a free curriculum, research it, like you would a paid curriculum. Read reviews and talk to other parents who have used it. Often you’ll be surprised how highly reviewed and widely used some free curriculums are. Cathy Duffy, an author and highly respected homeschool curriculum reviewer, has even named Easy Peasy All-in-One’s free curriculum to her Top Picks list. You can read that review here. Cathy Duffy mostly reviews paid curriculum, but she has also reviewed several other free curriculums, including MasterMath and Under the Home.
When looking at free curriculum online, you’ll sometimes come across websites that don’t have the most professional designs. Some are very plain looking. Others can be a little difficult to navigate. Sometimes you’ll even come across one that looks like it was designed in 1995, complete with spinning graphics and a busy background! When you come across websites like this, take a few minutes to look at the actual content of the curriculum before deciding that it must be poor quality. You’ll find excellent curriculum on some of these websites. That dated looking website may contain curriculum that was written by someone who’s an expert in his field, but has no experience with web design. Or that plain website may have been put together by a busy homeschool mom who wishes to bless others with the curriculum she wrote for her children, but doesn’t have time to put more into the website’s appearance. So, you can’t neccesairily judge a book by its cover.
I can’t use free curriculum because I don’t have enough time.
When searching for free curriculum, the sheer volume of resources available is overwhelming. Sifting through all of these resources takes a lot of time. Many lists of free curriculum you’ll find on Pinterest and Google are full of broken links, curriculum that is no longer free, and individual worksheets and printables, rather than complete courses. Additionally, many free curriculum blogs create a new post for each resource. This means that it could take looking at hundreds of blog posts to see all of the free resources that blog offers. It’s no wonder many parents decide that it’s just more convenient to purchase curriculum.
I started FreedomHomeschooling.com to help parents, like me, who were frustrated with searching for free curriculum. At FreedomHomeschooling.com, each subject area has its own page. Then, every free resource in that subject area is listed on that page, rather than in separate blog posts. I also mostly post complete courses and do not post individual worksheets and printables. Attempting to sort through and piece all those worksheets and printables together requires more time than many homeschoolers have. Also, rather than include every single free curriculum I come across, I try to include only those that should appeal to a larger number of people. My hope is that this makes it easier for busy parents on a budget to find free curriculum that works for their family.