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Welcome to Education Alternative's Series on Homeschooling!

We publish Saturday mornings between 8am and 12noon EST

We follow the kos rule of Participating in someone else's diary

Follow us at Education Alternatives for our occasional weekday pieces on homeschooling. If you would like to write for this series, please contact us at educalternatives@gmail.com


     One of the things homeschoolers often hear is that it takes a lot of money to home school your child. I’m here to say, it doesn’t have to. The highest cost is time. It takes some ingenuity, planning and research on the parent’s part as you’re designing your own curriculum rather than relying on some pre-made expensive ‘kit’. If you are home, or if your child is older and capable of independent work, homeschooling can be absolutely free, or at least as much or less than buying an entire wardrobe every fall and again when they outgrow it in a few months as well as that ever increasing list of necessary school supplies.  According to the National Retail Federation website, “the National Retail Federation's 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics” including “$225.47 on jeans, shirts and other types of clothing”. Now obviously a lot of us can’t afford to spend that much, but even buying at Good Will and discount stores we can easily spend $100 or more per child.

    In our household both FloridaSNDad and I are disabled and home anyway, so neither of us had to give up a job to homeschool or worry about leaving the kids home alone. I do know some working single parents who homeschool, often with older children or with family who watch the children during the day and then homeschooling in the evenings.  Our situation, however means we are living well below the poverty level. So how do we manage? Join me beneath the Great Orange Divide and I will divulge my secrets.

Please keep in mind this is not meant to be nor is it possible to make a comprehensive list of all free or low cost curriculum choices out there. If you have different ones that you favor please feel free to voice them in the comments, the more information shared is more information gained! If I’d tried to include all the resources I know this diary would have been five times as long at least.

    First we’re going to look at free resources. These include the Library, the internet (yes, you have to pay for the net, but likely if you are here you’re doing that anyway), video resources, and even some field trips. These are generally available to everyone, unless you live in a very rural area, and even then there are ways to access libraries online and you have many opportunities to study many things in the world itself.

Library resources vary from area to area, but every one includes books, quiet study space, computers, and other media like videos. A simple search on any subject will give a plethora of options covering many grade levels. Most libraries also offer free classes, kids activities, and teen clubs. For example, Orlando Public Library courses, including art, photography, book clubs, and computer courses. It also has kids activities like Angel Paws, a “read to a therapy dog” program designed to increase reading self esteem. There’s a teen club as well with teen specific activities, book clubs, and volunteer opportunities.

The Internet offers a wide variety of educational opportunities. The key to using this resource is preparation and vetting of the material you are going to use. Google, of course is your friend. Many good educational and professional sites can be accessed for free. Wikipedia can be a good starting point, but is not always reliable as a source by itself. Project Gutenberg offers hundreds of free classic literature to choose from in several formats.

 Youtube offers many excellent resources but I strongly suggest you watch the video first and not just depend on what it seems to be.  Many things posted on Youtube are themselves high school project videos and may vary greatly in quality. One Youtube resource we use is MinutePhysics, which are short and comprehensible science and physics lessons on everything from what the color pink actually is to Schrödinger’s Cat and beyond. Is this the entire science curriculum? Of course not, but it is a good way to introduce a concept for further exploration and learning. Those school house rock videos some of us grew up with are available on Youtube, as are many high school and college lectures. Once again, watch them first, so you know whether they are something your child can understand, or are from a school you agree with or can use. Another good resource on Youtube is the HistoryTeacher music videos. I think I like these even more than my kids!

There are also many historical societies online as well as museums offering free virtual tours of exhibits. You can find images of the Hunley, the Civil War era submarine or ancient fossils and artifacts online. Information across a broad spectrum of interests and subjects are available. For example, there’s the Florida Memory Project which includes photos, documents and maps from Florida Civil War battles and the Smithsonian Virtual Exhibits.   Colonial Williamsburg also has many virtual tours, exhibits and information online.

Video is available from many sources online, on TV, and in the library. The History channel, the Science channel, Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel and HGTV can all be excellent resources with a little planning and flexibility. Hulu is another good source for video as is Netflix ( and just streaming Netflix is relatively cheap).

    Now if you’re like me, you do spend some money on curriculum every year, and there are several important things to remember. One, you don’t have to school on a ‘traditional’ schedule. You can often find course materials greatly discounted in the spring. Two, you don’t have to buy curriculum for every subject. History for example is fairly easy to find online and in libraries for free, as are some science subjects. They key here is to know what you’re comfortable teaching and putting together yourself, what your child’s strengths and interests are, and to RESEARCH curriculum you’re going to buy just as much as you do curriculum you create yourself.  This includes exploring what the curriculum includes, what it expects you to provide, what it expects the child to do, how it works, and what resources are there for you. Many sites offer demos or sample materials, use these! Show them to your children and get their opinions, as they are the ones who are going to be learning from them. If the demo can’t hold your child’s interest and attention likely the curriculum won’t either.

     Even once you decide on a certain curriculum there are ways to save money on it. Many newer programs, and even some older ones have special homeschool options, so you don’t have to pay for a whole ‘class’ worth of supplies and materials. There are also buying co-ops in existence, I use the homeschool buyer's co-op myself, membership is free. You definitely have to research curriculum on this site as a lot of it is Bible Based and may not suit your needs, but there are also a lot of good deals. I bought the Colonial Williamsburg package one year, spent $50 instead of $500 for two kids, and that included live podcasts of historical recreations, teacher support materials and activities, and call in question sessions with historians on staff for the kids . That was the core curriculum for history for both kids for the entire year (with additional material and activities on each child's level). They also offer Explode the Code, Intelligo Unit Studies, Rosetta Stone, and even a Driver’s Ed course (not available in all States) at greatly discounted prices.

    There are also many stores that offer Home Educator discounts, such as Barnes and Noble, Jo-Anne’s, Staples, and Borders.  We get the workbooks my daughter prefers at Barnes and Nobles every year. Also, remember, you don’t have to buy everything at once, you can space it out. For 3rd Grade math, for example, we’re focusing on multiplication and division; I didn’t buy the division workbook until January.

    For field trips and hands on projects, there are low cost museums, community events, free parks and hikes, trips to the store; almost anything can be educational if you plan it right. Think about a trip to the park. If you use public transportation you’re teaching an important life skill (how to ride a bus), map reading (geography), scheduling, money and social skills. You can plan, budget and prepare a picnic lunch to take along. You can discuss and role play potential problem situations and safety concerns. You can do simple science experiments; fly a kite, for example or locate and examine habitats and wild life, physics lessons abound on playground equipment, or discuss why it’s not safe to swim in the lake (in Florida in the summer, amoeba risk), meet and socialize with a variety of other children across many ages, and learn new skills (go to a park with skate boarding for example). You can also volunteer at food pantries, soup kitchens, Occupations, attend political events, the options are limited only by what is happening in your area and your creativity.

     Of course you still have to buy clothing and some supplies (notebooks, pencils, paper), but you can spread them out to ease your budget. After all, there’s no school uniform, you don’t have to buy a new wardrobe in August that will be outgrown in November, and you can study history on the internet in whatever clothing you are comfortable in. One of the best things about homeschooling is the flexibility, and that includes flexibility in your budget. There are lots of good programs and curriculum out there for every age group, but with a little creativity and a lot of planning it’s possible to spend very little and still give your child an excellent education.

8:18 AM PT: Once our ride gets here I'll be gone a few hours to do grocery shopping (food stamps come in today, cupboard is nearly bare), but I'll be back later this afternoon to attend to comments again. Thank you all for the support and for the Rescue!

1:48 PM PT: Home again and back at the keys. Thank you all for your comments and support today, as well as additional resources to share!

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a great diary, FloridaSNMOM! (16+ / 0-)

    Thanks so much for writing for our series!

    I wanted to add another tip - we visit lots of museums and almost all of them have a 'free' day of entry, usually in the middle of the week. It's an added advantage of being able to schedule our own time.

  •  Next week: (12+ / 0-)

    FloridaSNMOM is bringing us the next diary in our series:

    No, Rick, a public virtual school is not home school (and other definitions)

    And we have others who are publishing their personal stories on weekdays. Please follow Education Alternatives so that you don't miss us!

    •  I look forward to that (10+ / 0-)

      I'm very much enjoying these homeschooling diaries, and feel that they are having an educational benefit to the larger dkos community.  Used to be that a diary or comment that happened to mention of homeschooling would spark a reflexive anti-homeschooling comment.   Civil discussion has improved tremendously, and I thank the authors who describe their constructive homeschooling experiences for the change of tone.

      I look forward to next week's diary to learn more about virtual schooling.  A friend whose daughter is doing the public virtual school program said "This homeschooling thing is tough."  Turns out that his daughter was behind in her assignments  requiring him to become more involved in making sure she stayed current with her work.

      I suggested that staying on up assignments is true no matter if it's home school, public school, or virtual school, except that the public school teacher enforces that daily discipline.  

      To me, this situation illustrates one of the benefits of homeschooling or public virtual school--to be successful, the child and the family must become more self-reliant and self-disciplined to make sure that assignments are completed on schedule. That's ironic given that one of the homeschool criticisms is that kids are sheltered from real-life experience.

    •  Darn (5+ / 0-)

      I was hoping it was going to be more like:

      No, Rick, registering for a public virtual school in a different state and allowing the taxpayers of that state to pick up the tuition cost for you is not the behavior of a responsible citizen. Or "home school".

  •  The public libraries (13+ / 0-)

    here are very helpful, hosting homeschooling events and keeping games, educational projects, and several different sets of curriculum in stock.

    Also, the Internet. God knows this would be impossible to do without teh interwebs. At least for the time and money that we have.

    It helps that I'm married to an educator and we can't afford for her to work - but if she finds a job before I do I may just stay at home and take over the homeschooling, crappy as I am at it.

    Are you on the Wreck List? Horde on Garrosh.

    by Moody Loner on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 06:28:36 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this! These are... (7+ / 0-)

    great resources for anyone with an interest in education.

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 06:40:41 AM PST

    •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)

      I find that youtube can sometimes make things clear that are fuzzy concepts in text books. I used it a few times even when I was in college and the text book was dry and confusing. You just have to make sure that the particular video is a good resource with accurate information.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 07:04:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent ! Hotlisting for future reference.. (9+ / 0-)

    this is really very good, and congratulations on the education you are providing  your kiddos !

    •  Thank you KGardner (8+ / 0-)

      I try to use as many media as possible, especially with my autistic son who tends to zone out if you use any one media for too long. I'll alternate text web pages with videos that are pertinent with discussion and writing. It's a mix that takes a lot of preparation on my part but works really really well for him.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 07:07:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you've got a co-op, (14+ / 0-)

    or even just a few homeschooling friends, try contacting your local symphony, theaters, etc.  They often run 2-3 "special showings" annually for school districts at very reduced cost, and your little group can be added to the invitation list.

    Also, for older students, take a look at the open courseware on line.  Quality varies, but many offer college entry level science and math instruction that isn't radically different from high school level work.  And, of course, it's free, so you can pick and choose as you need.

    And always remember:  the librarians are your friends.  They not only know their materials, they know the region's materials; and they often know what's going on -- for free -- in your area (they open all that mail!).

  •  Another online resource is Khan Academy (11+ / 0-)

    http://www.khanacademy.org

    It's not the second coming, as some people seem to think, but it is a useful source of videos and drills for some math and science concepts.

    Librarians themselves are great resources. They Know How To Find Stuff. And you're probably not the first person to ask that question.

    Also consider groups like Girl Scouts and 4-H. Both of them have developed what turns out to be curricula and activities that can be good academic-like projects. Our 4-H has presentation day, where you have to give a talk; the kids also are expected to turn in a record book annually that contains their costs for the year and a short essay for every project.

    You don't necessarily need the latest and greatest computer or software, either. Someone else's cast off machine may be just fine and available for free, and some of my favorite kid software (like living books) is older and available very cheaply used. But, it may not run on new computers.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 07:14:09 AM PST

    •  It's funny you mention the second coming. (0+ / 0-)

      I need to watch a couple of biology videos that he has on the site. My budding biologist was told he couldn't watch an advanced biology video without first watching a video comparing evolution to intelligent creation. That bothered me.

      Do you have an experience with the science vids on the site or just the math?

      •  I've done a little of both (0+ / 0-)

        and I've used it with my daughter when she was home sick but not too sick to be productive.

        I haven't been wowed by the science so far. The real leverage for great science videos requires a much higher production value than his videos have currently. I was taking physics when Caltech's The Mechanical Universe came out, with at that time bleeding edge computer animation from JPL's graphic wizard Jim Blinn. Those may be feeling dated by now, but they certainly brought a whole new dimension to the content then.

        I do think the Khan tactic of 10 minutes at a time is very smart.

        The math is good for drilling problems that you can do in your head. It makes it fun to do simple problems quickly, and saves the time delay of grading. But, it's a lot less fun when you have to work on a paper and then type in the answer, and the word problems tend to be thin. Khan does have a really nice graphing answer style though, where you can click right on the graph and tell it where the answer is, and draw slopes of lines and the like.

        With all the attention it's getting, I have seen Khan get substantial upgrades and I suspect in a few years it will be a very nice suite indeed.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:59:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Big List o' Resources (4+ / 0-)

      I've posted a complementary diary: Colleges and Others Offering Free Courses Online

      If folks list other sources they know of in the comments, I'll add them to the diary. We can have a great big compendium of free online courses.

  •  Great diary (12+ / 0-)

    When I started homeschooling, I saw all the fancy books and curricula available and thought I'd never be able to afford everything I wanted.  Well, I couldn't (grin); my wish list far exceeded my budget, but by being thoughtful and creative, we were able to manage just fine, with some cash left over for fun activities.

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 07:16:26 AM PST

  •  Congratulations on the Community Spotlight!... (13+ / 0-)

    I think there are a lot of progressive people on DKos who may be onsidering homeschooling their kids and will find support for that option from your diary, including people who don't make much money.

    My kids homeschooled during their teen years, and gravitated to a more self-directed unschooling learning process.  They both used the Internet extensively to become informed and to find collaborative communities online.  Our son Eric read the New York Times online each day and then looked up things he read about using Wikipedia.  Both our daughter and son found communities online and got involved in youth role-playing gaming communities that gave them experience in collaboration and governance.

    Our daughter Emma's involvement in a fantasy role-playing community online, gave her the opportunity to do many hours of writing the story for her character each day as she and her collaborators developed a group story over the course of several years.  As they say, the best way to learn to write is to do as much writing as possible (particularly to an audience, even a small one).  And today as a young adult, Emma has finished a draft of a young-adult science fiction novel and is working with a professional writer thru the UCLA extension program to do a next draft and move toward trying to get it published.

    The point of my anecdote is that homeschooling can give kids the opportunity to take more of a "deep dive" into something of interest and/or talent than is generally possible when you are in a more conventional formal learning situation.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

    by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 07:39:32 AM PST

  •  anti-authoritarianism & homeschooling (4+ / 0-)

    Check out this article.

    The psychiatry/psychology ssytem, along with schools, seems the perfect place to weed out that pesky oppositional attitude (the one that helps form Renaissances and revolutions).

    How many home schooled kids needed to escape the public system to save their sanity?

    •  Oppositional Defiant Disorder (5+ / 0-)

      My son does have that diagnosis with his autism, though most of the problems he had in public school had to do with the administration failing to provide an appropriate education and with other kids bullying him as well as his sensory issues. I will say, at least when he was younger (which was when he was diagnosed) this was a real issue for him, he'd say no to things he liked and wanted to do if it was ordered instead of suggested. As he's gotten older, we've worked on that, and pointed out those situations and he's improved. We also got into the habit of offering choices whenever possible, at least concerning when something gets done if we can't offer choices in what gets done.
      The main reason we chose, personally, to homeschool though was a lack of available programs for middle and high school and the attitude of the school that they weren't going to do anything to supply what he needed. Even his fifth grade teacher was behind our decision to homeschool him because, as he put it, he was tired of watching his kids that he'd worked so hard with left to flounder and fail later on.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:26:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So do I. (5+ / 0-)

        "he'd say no to things he liked and wanted to do if it was ordered instead of suggested."

        I have the same reaction. I expect to be politely asked, not ordered.

        Guess I must have some kind of "disorder." :)

        •  Ok, I understand your point (6+ / 0-)

          but this was a five year old. "Go get your favorite movie and I'll put it in for you" isn't usually something that's met with "no". This was extreme beyond a typical child.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 09:29:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sure it was. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            martini

            But we've all seen phases and situations where a child will say "no" just to say it.

            After the diagnosis of ODD, what was the solution?

            •  the Solution (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity, elfling, martini

              was learning strategies around it when he was younger, offering choices or phrasing things as a question. As he got older we pointed out when he made that instinctive 'no' to something we knew he wanted, and he'd stop and think a moment and correct himself.  I still give choices where I can however, especially if it's something I know he's not going to want to do (Do you want to wash or dry dishes tonight? for example). It seemed to help some with his IEP and help the teachers he had handle him better, knowing up front that this was an issue with him, especially as I made sure to talk to them at the IEP's ect while he was in public school.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 01:25:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's nice to hear (3+ / 0-)

                you have worked out a gentle, polite way to interact.

                How do you differentiate between different nos? The "instinctive" no that he might not really mean versus a genuine no?

                •  Differentiation of no's (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  martini

                  Some of it is just instinct, the same way you know what your child's cry means. Some is experience with my son. Some is, now, seeing the look on his face saying "wait, what did I just say?" Sometimes it takes giving him a moment and then rewarding what I said to see if the answer is different. "Are you sure you don't want to play wii while your sister is busy?" Sometimes the answer changes, sometimes it doesn't.

                  "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                  by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 03:08:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Respect your approach but have a different take... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Nance, martini

                    I think part of respecting the worth and dignity of every person (including a young person) is to generally acknowledge their "nos" even if your own wisdom tells you they are wrong.  Having the personal sovereignty to effectively say "no" is an important developmental experience, even if you are proven later to be wrong.  If you are not given the freedom to fail and the respect that goes with it, real development is difficult.

                    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                    by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 03:58:14 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Oh he has personal sovereignty to say no (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      elfling, martini

                      I don't override him, I just ask if he's sure, sometimes. He's said no and gone without and regretted it many times. But he'll say no automatically sometimes, almost a tourette's type reaction, so we give him time to correct himself if he needs to. I rarely have to prompt him to think about things before he makes a final decision any longer now. If he's already upset about something else he's more likely to fall back into the automatic negative.

                      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 04:31:55 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

  •  We live in the greater Seattle area (10+ / 0-)

    and belong to a homeschool support group that is geared to secular homeschoolers or at least those not homeschooling for the purpose of a Christian worldview.

    This group saves me tons of money and tons of time, because we are constantly sharing information on resources, discounts, etc.

    The group itself hosts a few events a year, a Halloween Party, a Not Back to School picnic on the first day of traditional school, a science fair, an art show and weekly park days.

    Then members are encouraged to plan field trips, museum visits, theater outings etc and invite the group.  I regularly plan events and having the group allows us to get all kinds of discounts.  All of the major theaters allow and encourage homeschool groups alongside school groups for matinees, educational programs, all kinds of stuff.

    My husband recently asked me why I go to the trouble (in his mind I have better things to do than organizing events) instead of just taking our kids to these things.  When I gave him the math on it, he saw what I meant.  For example, we recently saw Romeo & Juliet at Seattle Shakespeare .  They put on the standard performance that they are charging upwards of $25 per ticket for weekend and evening performances, but they did it on a weekday for $11 per ticket.  For 4 of us to see it for $44, it cost me maybe an hour of my time coordinating a group outing.  Plus, my kids are excited to go to things like this with their friends.

    I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

    by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:17:54 AM PST

  •  Very Sad that Virginia rejected "Tebow" rule which (4+ / 0-)

    would allow HSers to participate in interscholastic athletics during high school. The most inane argument against, and most popular, was that HSers would take away "spots"  on the team from children attending the school??? Athletics is about competition and competing against the best.

    Some...spoke with strong and powerful voices, which proclaimed in accents trumpet-tongued,"I am beautiful, and I rule". Others murmured in tones scarcely audible, but exquisetly soft and sweet, "I am little, and I am beloved"." Armandine A.L. Dupin

    by Kvetchnrelease on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:35:28 AM PST

  •  Homeschooling is not for everyone. (6+ / 0-)

    Over the years, I've hired more than a few high school age young men to work alongside me, brushcutting, digging trenches, etc on our orchard / farm.  I always engage with them in discussions about their education, their world views, etc.

    Three of these young men were homeschooled and all three hit a wall when they enrolled in courses at the local community college.  Math was a big problem for all of them and so all three switched into vocational programs - welding, operating farm machinery, etc.

    Two out of these three were home schooled by Christian families.  In addition to their weak background in the basics they are further handicapped by creationism, global warming denial, intellectual laziness and a general anti science attitude, to say nothing of their hatred of "liberals".

    I agree that for responsible and competent homeschoolers, the quality of education passed on to their children can be superior to the public schools.
    I applaud those homeschoolers who are successful.  

    But not all homeschoolers are competent or caring educators and unfortunately the educational results they produce are mostly irreversible.

  •  Fix *public* schools (instead of undermining them) (4+ / 0-)

    I'm troubled by the fact that people with a social conscience are nonetheless abandoning public institutions that need our support. Among these, schools are just about the most valuable and the most needy.

    Every student that schools lose to homeschooling is another papercut that wounds the whole institution. Yes, there are people in this country who are indifferent to the destruction of public schools, but it's certainly not the progressive position. Yes, public schools need to improve. In some neighborhoods, they need to improve a lot. But if you're someone with the spare time to devote to homeschooling, just consider how you might improve the services of your public school if you devote all that energy to helping them. Count up how many hours you could spend, what your special skills are, and ask your child's teacher what you can do!

    Our schools are the primary institution that introduces Americans to the diversity of our country. It doesn't do this perfectly or universally, but it does do it. Instead of making plans for how to abandon them, let's first admit that we'd be fucked without them, and instead make plans for improving them.

    •  This is a rote argument (11+ / 0-)

      I don't know of any homeschooling parent (and I've known LOTS of them) who want to abandon or undermine public ed system.   Indeed many of them use a combination of both homeschooling and public schooling over the course of K-12.  

      Instead of castigating homeschoolers for a straw argument, I wish the first statement would be a recognition that  parents should follow a path that they feel provides the best education for their children.

      That said, the other problem with this recurring reflexive argument is that it ignores the most powerful way to change the system:  Work to elect and influence politicians who can change the system for the better.  I believe that homeschoolers have more opportunity and freedom of time to take that action, and I know many who get their children involved in the political process as volunteers.    

      My children have experienced both public school and homeschool.  I would be foolish to think that my actions as an individual parent in a public school has any influence higher than the principal.  Collectively, the parents at the school can do more, but they are a herd of cats.  

      Meanwhile, our local state rep personally knows my daughter and my family because we have worked to keep him in office, and through those efforts we have become known to other county level politicians and activists.

      There is no question where my family's efforts have  more influence.

    •  Spare time to homeschool.... (10+ / 0-)

      I don't home school in my spare time. Homeschooling is how I choose to spend the bulk of my day, in my spare time I post on daily kos, I write, I play MMORG's. Home schooling requires dedication and commitment to spend the time preparing lessons, keeping records and teaching your children, nothing about it is done in 'spare time'.
      As to what I could do for my son's teachers, it wasn't about the teachers, it wasn't about lack of help in the classroom in our case. It was about the administration of the Middle and High school believing they didn't have to follow IDEA law due to budget constraints. I don't have money to donate or pay for the one on one attention and special needs classroom my son needs. They weren't willing to provide anything, because he was academically on target. Never mind he couldn't function in a mainstream environment even in elementary, let alone the huge transition to middle school. He cannot handle being in a press of students, he can't handle the noise in the hall way or at lunch, and the bullying of other kids because he is 'different' was literally threatening to kill him.
      So how much time spending helping my son's teachers was going to fix that? How many volunteer hours spent in a back room grading papers or being a hall monitor would have helped? I'd tried going through the system to get what he needed, it wasn't happening, not in his school education career. I almost lost my job and my education to IEP meetings several times. Add in that our family was dealing with the over stressed, violent, angry child that the public school system sent home every day.
      I still advocate for public schools, and for special needs programs. But I could no longer allow the public education system to abuse my son and neglect his education. I didn't "abandon" public schools, I made the best choice for my child and my family, as I and every other parent has the right to do.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 09:26:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not actually (7+ / 0-)

      "spare" time. It's how we hsers have decided to manage our families and raise our children.

      I have wondered what I will do when my kids are out of the house and I have all that "spare" time. Since my Mom volunteers at the elementary school I attended as a girl, the idea of volunteering at a school has crossed my mind. I will decide when the time comes. I may just continue volunteering as a literacy coach at the local library.

    •  I live in TX, where the whole curriculum is (9+ / 0-)

      tainted by whacakadoodle right-wingers.  If I had a kid in school, I'd have to homeschool on top of that just to ensure they're getting a real education.  Plus, they don't teach critical thinking anymore, just test taking.  I don't see why a person's child has to suffer when the school system itself is perverted into some bullshit drone factory, and the parent is willing to ensure their child is a productive member of society.

      NOW SHOWING
      Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
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      by The Dead Man on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 09:37:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It troubles me that people who know (12+ / 0-)

      darned well that a single person (or even hundreds of them) cannot have any effect on the political-corporate machine that is education today still feel offended that parents want the best for their kids, and that these parents are not willing to sacrifice their kids to the education system.

      Schools will be glad to accept unpaid labor from parents, as long as these parents do not actually attempt to get the schools to make changes that are not permitted by the authoritarian hierarchy. And hey, if enough unpaid labor shows up to perform unskilled work they are permitted to do, they can probably lay off some of those darned unionists!

      •  Exactly what I think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        little lion

        when I see volunteers requested for cleaning up parks, etc., in our area. Yes, it's a nice thing to do. But, at a certain point, that is someone's job you are taking.

        Of course, I also refuse to use self-checkout lanes. :)

      •  Important callout... volunteering in a school... (3+ / 0-)

        supports the institution in its present form, but does not necessarily contribute to is transformation.  You generally have to cause some friction, some dissonance, to catalyze any institutional change.

        Whether pulling your kids out of school creates that sort of positive dissonance is something that is being hotly debated here.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 02:19:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's hotly debated (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, Debby

          pretty much any time hsing comes up here. :)

          But I don't think that's the reason most people homeschool -- to make a statement and/or improve public schools. There aren't enough of us, for one thing.

          Just as there aren't enough of us to do any real harm by removing our children from ps.

          Probably the best argument I have read here recently against allowing people to hs is that once they start, they realize how much they enjoy the freedom hsing offers and never go back. What if it really catches on? :)

          •  Maybe just a few... (0+ / 0-)

            but as Margaret Meade pointed out, most change happens as a result of a small band of determined people.

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 03:59:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But just because someone (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

              homeschools doesn't mean they are political or into making the changes needed in the public school system.

              The idea that the exact few people who would have made the difference in turning the ps system around are the very ones who decide to homeschool isn't reasonable.  And that seems to be the argument we hear about hsing every time the subject comes up here -- these people shouldn't leave.

              And then I can't see how it is these same few people who are now outside the ps system who would be the leaders for change within the ps system, as I think you are suggesting.

              Hsers, using a generous guesstimate, make up 6% of the school-age population. The fraction within that small percentage who are political and motivated to fix the ps system has to be vanishing small.

              For that sort of real change, a coalition of all sorts of people interested in education would have to be pulled together. . . somehow. . .  but I don't see how hsers are going to figure prominently. . . who knows? maybe there's some brilliant hsing kid out there who "has a dream." :)

        •  Not all schools need transformation, or fight it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity

          There was a parent who used to come in and give wonderful hands-on science demos for the kids. The kids and the teachers loved it, and I think her efforts had a lasting impact on all the kids she touched.

          Our teachers were and are fabulous but there are only so many hours in the day.

          Would it be better to have the money to hire someone to do that? Of course. But these kids didn't have it otherwise, and they benefited.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:22:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on the school (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

        My daughter's school is small and thus any parent who puts time and genuine care into the school can in fact have a significant influence, if they are in there to make a positive difference.

        I would also say, with respect, that because it is small that every child that doesn't come does make a difference to our financial bottom line. Two families of four who homeschool could bring enough revenue for one additional teacher. And conversely a family with an autistic child who homeschools is probably saving our district money. That said, it should never be about the money. It's about what's right for the kids. And if homeschooling is what's right for them, then by all means, that is what they should do. And if public school is right for them, they should do that.

        I think people are concerned that large percentages of people will homeschool and thus take down public schools. I think if you give people free choice and the option of a quality public school that that's unlikely.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:19:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I volunteered at my kids' elementary (8+ / 0-)

      schools until I found that I would have to homeschool my son. I supported the public schools, but at a certain point they weren't supporting my son.

      My daughter did alright in public school, but took advantage of a program that allowed her to attend college for the last two years of high school as a dual enrollee. That was what she needed.

      I still consider that the public school system to be vital to our nation.

      lump 1, would you allow your child to suffer in the public school system just to "support" public schools? How would your child's suffering and educational degradation advance the cause of public schooling? Do you imagine that because you demand it, school officials will completely understand your point of view and your child's needs? Until someone have faced the choices that we who have homeschooled have faced, they may have trouble understanding where we are coming from.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 10:20:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mom's mantra as a parent was that... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d, angelajean

        "Kids will tell you what they need".  A very unorthodox approach to parenting in the 1950s and 1960s and still today!

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 10:58:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but not always in words. My daughter (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

          begged me to homeschool her, but I knew that that would not work for her. We got her through public school through all the trials and tribulations.

          My son never asked to be homeschooled, but that's what we ended up doing--not because we weren't listening to them, but because we had to take the entire situation into account.

          "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

          by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 11:55:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Kids do sometimes "tell you" with their feet... (3+ / 0-)

            rather than their voices.  Our son Eric so resisted going to school each day.  For a while we tried to practice "tough love" and make him go to school every morning, at times leaving him crying on the curb by school.  I regret that now!

            http://www.leftyparent.com/...

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 12:33:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It was tough for my daughter at times too. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril

              "Drill and kill" were indeed killing her. She was in a gifted track, but not all her classes were gifted. One year her English teacher would assign "word searches" as homework! My daughter liked things like that for recreation, but what was the point of requiring it for a grade? It was just stupid.

              Still, she did get so much from the classroom as well and had friends whose company she enjoyed. We got her through the last two years by taking advantage of a program that allowed her to be dual enrolled in high school and college. That was perfect because I was dreading the mountains of nitpicky work that she would encounter in her AP classes--requiring just the right folder and pages and pages of work when less may have been more effective. This way she could do the work without having all that hassle.

              Her high school teachers had her convinced that she couldn't write. She was afraid to set pen to paper sometimes. She found out in college that she was just fine.

              "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

              by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:30:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree.... (13+ / 0-)
      Our schools are the primary institution that introduces Americans to the diversity of our country
      i respectfully disagree. Direct exposure to the diversity of our country is the primary means to introduce children to this diversity. In my experience working in schools in 3 states (Alaska, Wisconsin, New York) from pre-k- High school, the school only represents limited diversity of the local community.  Diversity includes different age groups, religions, cultures, languages, world views, education backgrounds, vocations, avocations, political views - most of which are not fully expressed or experienced inside a typical public or private school classroom.

      The successful homeschool children I know have spent a lot of time in and around the community interacting with and encountering the real diversity of the nation. Not just seeing it in a book but living it.

      in addition, just because a family homeschools does not imply they do not support public schools. i have worked to elect progressive school board candidates even as I was homeschooling. I support the improvement of public schools 100%. But if it looks like it might take a decade or more to make serious improvements and my child will only be there for 5 more years, why should I feel compelled not to offer my child what is best for them?

      •  I share your belief that the "real world"... (4+ / 0-)

        however a kid can be involved in it is the best teacher of the diversity of human life.  I certainly got way more exposure to the diversity of human thought and religious belief outside of school that from my school classes.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 11:01:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I grew up (5+ / 0-)

        in a school in the Pennsylvania sticks, which was purely a Caucasian PA Dutch school until my senior year when we finally had 3 students of other races. The only exception was the occasional exchange student. Most of the kids I went to school with grew up, moved into town and had huge issues with other races and their own bigotry due in part to a lack of exposure to diversity. I can think of several that got into serious/life threatening situations over it. My parents seemed to be the odd ones in our area who had friends in town from several different races, and my sisters and I reacted differently and better once we went out on our own.
        My mother however, still gets offended when I speak Spanish with my children. She doesn't think they should be bi-lingual, she hated my taking it in high school as well. She was always afraid someone would hear and get mad because I was speaking Spanish (she grew up very poor and in the projects, maybe that had something to do with it). I always told her so long as I'm not swearing at them, why would they  care?
        Public school only teaches diversity if the school is diverse, otherwise it can further entrench bigotry and intolerance.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 01:46:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  As I said yesterday (9+ / 0-)

      in my piece, my number one priority as a parent is the safety and well being of my children, and my parental responsibilities took precedence over anything else the moment I became a parent.

      That doesn't mean I don't still support my local schools as a member of the community, it just means that my number one obligation is to make sure my kids are getting the best I can give them whether its educationally or otherwise.

      And as far as diversity, a public school can only be as diverse as the community it serves. Given that homeschoolers are a part of the same community they would school in, they are in fact exposed to at least the same diversity a child in school is.

      That being said, not all schools are diverse, or even as diverse as their community, to begin with. In our district the public elementary my children would attend is 98% black, 2% white, and less than 1% anything else. The private school is 99% white, 1% black and less than 1% anything else. The private school is Christian with primarily middle class conservatives, and the community at large is primarily Christian, conservative, and low income. How is either school diverse?

      The public schools I grew up in were much the same (though primarily white). Again, how is that diverse?

      Time wise, you are seeing my spare time in action. Homeschooling and taking care of our home is my primary job, not something I fiddle with in my spare time.  Yes, I could devote all that time to fighting with my local school if I sent my kids there. In return, my kids and I would be tired and frustrated and they wouldn't be getting the education they are now. The fight with public schools does need to happen, but the reality is our kids generation is unlikely to see the change that needs to happen and no one should be expected to sacrifice their own child's education.

      In addition, poor public schools isn't the only reason parents pull their kids out. Even the best districts can't, and will likely never be able to, provide what is best for every child. That is the reason we need choices. Even if the school system in this country was top notch there would still be kids who would do better at home.

    •  and I did all that (7+ / 0-)

      volunteered, worked in the school, did the PTA, school board meetings, etc and ad nauseum.

      and the schools still failed my children.

      what would you have me do then?

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 12:39:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Nance, little lion, kyril

      When my oldest was in kindergarten, they wouldn't let me volunteer because my other boy would have had to come along. Much as I wanted to be there helping out, I didn't have daycare options for the child 3 years younger than the grade level of the classroom... but they touted their welcoming attitude towards mixed age learning. They used the fifth graders as unpaid teachers' aides.

      Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

      by jennifree2bme on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 01:40:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (4+ / 0-)

      And as for diversity, one teacher I know put it this way: She's awfully glad her school doesn't have a dress code, so all the girls can express their individuality by wearing North Face jackets, leggings, and Uggs.

      Isn't school all about conformity, fitting in, getting "socialized"? Whatever diverse backgrounds kids come from, once they get to school, nobody wants to stick out.

      Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

      by jennifree2bme on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 01:50:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There will always be kids (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

      that don't fit into a public school environment. This is especially true for extremely gifted kids or kids on the autism spectrum. Certainly a public school will do the best they can with every child that comes their way, but it's okay to say, "My kid doesn't fit in here and isn't thriving and I need to do something else." That something else might be a different public school, private school, independent study, or home school.

      That said, there are also kids who do better in a public school environment. My daughter doesn't learn well from me, and she benefits tremendously from learning from other caring adults at her school. I do put a lot of energy into my public school with much of the reasoning you describe, as have some other parents. And there's no question that that energy makes a positive difference for all the kids who attend.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:11:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Vi Hart has a great Math series (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, kyril

    Plus her doodles are cool.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
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    by The Dead Man on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 09:33:04 AM PST

  •  I believe that some public schools districts are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner, angelajean

    now offering curriculum for homeschoolers on-line which would be great and a way to include homeschooling in the public school system.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 10:24:25 AM PST

    •  They are and it is an interesting issue... (5+ / 0-)

      that this group has been discussing.  Is taxpayer paid online schooling for kids at home the same thing as more family-directed home schooling that is not paid for by taxpayers and therefore needing to be regulated and controlled by government.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 11:03:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Online schooling (0+ / 0-)

      is still early days and very uneven. The local school usually loses out financially, whatever its other virtues and problems.

      Our high school is small and rural. The advantage is that it can provide individual attention and smaller class sizes than a large traditional high school. The disadvantage is that a particular student might be the only one who wants to take French. I have been working with the principal to try to figure out ways we can augment our offerings with some online courses that would enable us to have self-motivated kids working with some independence take a wider range of courses. It's not as easy to find good materials that will meet the curricular requirements as we had hoped.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:31:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A great piece! (5+ / 0-)

    Two of my favorite low cost resources are book swap sites. Bookmooch and Paperback Swap, along with shopping deals and buying used, allow us to have quite a home library at very little cost.

    •  I think we may need to try these... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, kyril

      I wish I would have thought of them sooner.

      We live in a place without a public library :(  My son has read everything we own multiple times! We do borrow some books from the Embassy, but their collection is limited. And we have also discovered Better World Books for great priced used books that support literacy for kids in other countries. But a paperbook swap that he could engage in would be a good deal!

      •  Bookmooch (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, kyril

        ......is my favorite of the two. It is international (whereas paperback swap is only the US) and it is much more community based. A lot of people on there are there because they love books and want to find good homes for what they are done with, not just for getting stuff if that makes sense. Recently I cam across a woman who had bought out a closing charter schools library and was listing a lot of books. Because I was ordering so many (and it costs less to ship in bulk) she gave me a deal on them, 2 books for 1 point rather than 1:1 and always sent extras. Our local library isn't the greatest and this provides us a way to get a lot of great books at very little cost.

        There are sites out there where you can swap other things as well, like DVDs and CD's, but I haven't used them.

        Glad I mentioned it!

      •  When I was a girl we lived in Indochina (mid 50s) (4+ / 0-)

        I was at that time semi-homeschooled as there were times when my family traveled in the countryside for many weeks at a time or when political disturbances interrupted access to the local English-language school which we nominally attended. During those periods we  never went without a parental plan to keep us learning.

        I was a voracious reader and I was encouraged (by my parents) to checkout anything I wanted from Embassy's USIS English lending library.  I read most of what they had (fiction and non-fiction from agricultural handbooks, home nursing textbooks to propagandist tomes about The American Way of Life) and then we moved on to the French Embassy's collection and eventually even to the German Embassy's tiny lending library. For those libraries I needed to learn to read in those languages, which I did. I read adult books as there were few children's books. It didn't matter to me, I was just hungry to read!

        So don't let lack of English books or library stall you.  Also if you venture into the capital cities, you can often find a used-book dealer who has English books for sale gleaned from households of departing ex-pats who didn't want to pay to ship them home.  Some of my most treasured books were purchased in dusty book stalls and bazaars more than half a century ago and lugged, shipped and unpacked over and over again. I write this within arm's reach of some of those books right now.

        Otherwise my parents sent for books from NY, or European sources.  At one point I think we even had a subscription to one of those Scholastic Book Clubs and months, perhaps years, after they had been ordered somewhat battered books would arrive by "boat mail" which was a truly a red letter day. I still remember some of the titles: Jeptha and the New People, The Pink Motel and Science in Your Own Backyard are some that come to mind despite it being nearly 60 years ago. (I must have read them hundreds of times!)

        When comparing my own h/s experience that had to happen in person or by mail and the opportunities the Internet offers to anyone, anywhere, the mind boggles.

        However, to stay with the theme of free, or low-cost, teaching materials in less exotic places. Have you tried asking the public school to loan you the needed  textbooks? I live in NY now and our school districts must provide loaner textbooks to children enrolled in private and parochial schools, if asked. I had a foster child living with me for awhile who had to be h/s and we borrowed the materials we needed directly from the school.  I can't see why the school wouldn't do this.  It's possible you might have a slightly different text than the one used in the school (an odd single-copy sample, or last year's edition perhaps).  But that won't matter. Also your public school library may be able to loan you a textbook, at no charge.  And as soon as you reach junior high, don't overlook access to materials from the libraries at community colleges.  I can use them through interlibrary loan.

        If you're living abroad, don't overlook the opportunity to enroll in local non-English speaking schools. Language immersion is not difficult for children's language-primed brains. You've all heard about that big-eared guy who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue who went to Indonesian schools for awhile (and his Mom woke him up early to h/s some more in English). I hear he went on to Harvard Law School and eventually turned out OK.

        Araguato

  •  Google 'math worksheets' (5+ / 0-)

    for an alternative to buying math workbooks. Google 'interactive math' for on-line resources. Many worksheet sites also sell worksheet generators, or require subscriptions, but most offer free samples and some are completely free.

    Purplemath has a lot of good stuff for algebra students, and internet resources vetted by a math teacher.  

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 11:50:26 AM PST

  •  For military families, both public & homeschooled (4+ / 0-)

    There is a website called Tutor.com. They provide free tutoring for all military families. It has helped us out a couple of times. Tutoring is live and uses a google white board and chat interface and for multiple subjects!

  •  Library Admission Passes (6+ / 0-)

    In the Detroit area, the public libraries have passes to things like the Historical museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, the zoo, etc. They are good for one week and admit 4 people for free or at a very reduced cost to a variety of museums and other great places.  I believe I've heard of this in other states. It's worthwhile whether you homeschool or not.

  •  my free stuff we've used (6+ / 0-)

    for math we use MEP (google MEP math) its England's math curriculum. it was adapted from Hungary. It is free to download and print. it includes posters, teacher's guide, student's workbook, all supplemental curriculum (number lines, etc) and its totally free. its also rather good. so far we have only used the 1st grade level, but it combines mental math, manipulatives, writing, and loads of math puzzles to solve.
    our science and social studies have been all free except for materials. DD1 is only in Kindergarten, so she decides what science unit she wants to study. Then we get out Janice Van Cleave's books for experiments related to the subject and loads of picture books related to the subject. then we read the books, do the experiments, and take field trips related to it (our local kids museum had a bug exhibit when we were learning about insects, we visited the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge to learn about birds) I try to fit in lots of science specific concepts, not just "lets look at bugs!" so, we talk about life cycles, energy, camoflouge, evolution, etc in all of our biology related units.
    our social studies has been similar. we are doing 2 things, history and human rights. i found a lot of free human rights activities/lesson plans/curriculum from the UN and Amnesty International. So we have done those throughout the year. we also read books about the national history, but i try to focus on the people's aspect. so, DD has heard the names of the major people in the Civil War, but we focused on people like Molly Pitcher, and women who were important in the revolution.  We read about Benjamin Banneker and talked about JEfferson's hypocrisy. We also visit historical sites around us. Luckily we live between D.C. and Baltimore so there are a lot of historic sites that are free or little cost.
    Libraries are our friends!!

    compassion for things i'll never know ~ david byrne

    by little lion on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 02:10:17 PM PST

  •  asdf (7+ / 0-)

    We're fortunate to live in an area where there are many, many cultural attractions. Zoos, museums of science and art and history, gardens, theaters, etc.

    One thing we discovered early on is the benefit of a family pass. An annual membership to an attraction means that you can go there to spend the afternoon as often as you like and really get an in-depth perspective on the subject matter. There is no rush to "do" the whole attraction in one day; if you spend three days this week in front of the giraffes at the zoo, maybe next week's interest will be the penguin house, and if you never seem to make it as far back as the kangaroos, well that's really okay. You're not 'wasting" the admission ticket if you miss some exhibits. You needn't worry about blocking a whole day for the field trip; you can stop by for an hour or two if that's all you feel like.

    Many attractions have reciprocal agreements with a consortium of similar attractions, by which members at one museum, etc, can get free admision to a multitude of other museums nationwide. This means that if you are within proximity to more than one attraction of a type (we're by 3 science museums), it is thrifty to buy the membership at the least expensive one. Also, you can plan inexpensive day trips and vacations because you won't have admission costs to budget for.

    A family membership is a great holiday gift, from the parents to the kids or especially as a family gift from grandparents or aunts and uncles who don't really know what kind of toys the kids are into this year.

    The Smithsonian offers a Free Museum Day in the fall. For a day, hundreds of museums nationwide offer free admission in partnership with the Smithonian. We pick the most expensive thing, the one we probably couldn't afford otherwise.

    Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

    by jennifree2bme on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 02:34:31 PM PST

    •  this is a great tip (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, jennifree2bme, kyril, elfling

      and we had zoo memberships when my kids were little.  We not only used it for frequent outings to our small hometown zoo (we lived in the midwest then), but on most vacations we were able to get admission to larger, more exotic zoos.  

      Then when we moved to Seattle, we renewed our old pass from the midwest for the first couple of years because it was about half the cost of a membership to the Seattle zoo!

      We also have had times where we rotated passes, so this year the zoo, next year the science museum so as not to spend as much to have all of them each year.  And watching special exhibits helps too.  Our science center is doing a King Tut exhibit this year, so this is the year for that!

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 06:05:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  we also do this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jennifree2bme, kyril, angelajean

      especially as a family of four, taking three of us out for the day almost eats up 1/4-1/2 of the yearly family membership. its totally worth it to know that anytime we can go somewhere we can just go.  

      compassion for things i'll never know ~ david byrne

      by little lion on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 09:01:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another library resource (4+ / 0-)

    Have you tried WorldCat?

    WorldCat linky

    This will help you find where books are. This helps focus an interlibrary request.

    It is also a rich search resource to idenitfy books and periodicals on a specific topic - it's almost too rich a source at times.

    It will locate books (and libraries) all over the world.

    Want to find a library in Lima, Peru? Easy-peasy, just type that in and you'll know where it is, often with on-line catalogs to search.

    Want to find the closest copy of a particular book or periodical  while you're in Lima, Peru?  Equally easy:  search for the book and tell the search engine you're in Lima.

    I keep WorldCat  and my local interlibrary loan tab open on my browser whenever I'm roaming around the web.  See a reference to something - a few clicks and I can see more and see where it is and, even better, in most cases summon it to my tiny village library in a few days. Can't beat that!

    Araguato

  •  Literature (0+ / 0-)

    The Ayn Rand Institute offers free books and lesson plans
    http://www.aynrand.org/...

    The Tolkien Institute also offers lesson plans and projects
    http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/...

    Gutenberg offers free e-books

    "High-minded individuals are more dangerous than criminals. they can always find hypocritical excuses for committing acts of violence." Amelia Peabody Emerson

    by TheRealAlasandra on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:22:12 PM PST

  •  Kudos to you for this article. (8+ / 0-)

    For most of us, a cogent question to ask ourselves re homeschooling is: "Where did you gain most of your knowledge?  Was it in school or was it from your family, friends and life experiences?"

    We homeschooled our children, both of whom are successful, productive, professional adults.  Children were never meant to sit quietly in phalanxes of desks listening to an authority figure...the teacher...who may or may not be a font of wisdom talk at them.  Most children do not benefit from the tyranny of letter grades.  Who cares whether it takes a child two weeks or two months to understand a concept?  In our homeschool, there were no grades.  Our children either understood the concept, etc. or they did not.  They did not understand it an "A's" worth or a "C's" worth.  Very simply, they understood it and then we moved on.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by Randolph the red nosed reindeer on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 06:20:54 PM PST

  •  finally (6+ / 0-)

    A homeschool diary with a minimum of trolling! :D Great piece, hotlisting.

  •  I would often (4+ / 0-)

    buy the book I needed on Amazon and sell it back for roughly the same cost when I was done with it. I've tried selling other types of books there but found that homeschool books hold their value best. Not a guarantee and, of course, doesn't work for things like workbooks, but for a curriculum book, it was great.

    The homeschool co-op we were in before our move (and before the kidster went to a brick-and-mortar school) was really diverse and there were several families who were making it work on extremely limited means. I do always say that it's not for everyone, but money shouldn't stand in the way of someone who wants to homeschool.

    Great diary!

    Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

    by Debby on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:17:06 PM PST

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