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    We are entering our seventh year of  homeschooling and I am a little proud to say that we have probably spent less than a hundred dollars on basic curriculum so far in our daughter's education.  There were other things we would have bought anyway if she were in public school, binders, paper, the never-ending supply of pencils that are never to be found when needed.  We did buy some bookshelves and office supplies for organizing, paper cutter, three hole punch, etc..  But as far as textbooks and Curriculum,  with a capital C, we have gotten off rather cheaply.   How, you ask?   Creativity and timing for much of it, and what Moody would call cussedness for much more.

    My Number One, always refer to, never do without, take with me to a desert island resource is the internet.  You can find curriculum about anything there.  You can find printables, textbooks, videos, advice, and tons of ideas all from the comfort of your own computer.  You can find places to buy packaged curriculum.  You can buy art or science supplies.  You can join yahoo groups or other online associations that can offer you more advice or trade ideas for things in the specific geographical or academic area you need.  

    My second favorite resource is libraries, libraries libraries.  Some libraries have great homeschooling or curriculum sections.  Some have educational supplies you can check out such as microscopes, board games, science experiment kits, or other resources.  Librarians also are great sources of information as to where you can find more on a subject.  Often they can request books or supplies from other libraries for you to check out.   Also many libraries offer “educator” cards, which have different limits on how many books you can check out or how long you can keep them.  

    My third favorite resource is used book sales.  Library and school sales sell off older textbooks for next to nothing.  Usually at the beginning or end of summer.  We have gotten a shopping bag filled with texts, (and two or three more filled with novels or other books), for $3-5 per bag.  Many homeschool groups or teacher associations have sales of used supplies as well.    Keep an eye out for yard sales with school supplies advertised.  Many teacher sell off all the supplies they have acquired over their careers when they retire.  They often are more interested in getting rid of the stuff than getting high prices.  

    I have heard good things as well about conventions, but haven't ever gone to one.  Homeschooling conventions offer many curriculum options both new and used, but may have high entrance fees and may be far away.  They may also be worth it to network and get other opinions on curriculum even if you don't buy anything.  Finding resources to charge up your motivation and spirit is just as important as finding resources for teaching  subject matter.

        Last year we bit the bullet and bought some curriculum recommended by friends.  But we bought it used on Amazon and paid maybe $60 for workbooks for math, spelling, science, a set of textbooks for penmanship, and a full history program with an activity book, reading book and test book. This was a pain when the fire destroyed all our homeschooling supplies, but at least we could get new books and start from where we left off.

       This year we found a website called complete curriculum, that has textbooks broken into 180 lessons each that you cam mix, match or use as is for each of the core subjects, math, social studies, language arts and science.  All lessons are accessible by teacher or student log-in as editable PDFs.  Teacher log-ins give access to the teacher manuals, (read answer sheets and additional activities to prepare for), as well.    Students can type in their answers and print out the assignments on the website or download them and email them to the "teacher".  Or for younger students, the teacher can download or print off the assignments from her log in and never use the student log in.  Access to the site and up to ten textbooks, (you can look at more, just only assign lessons from ten), is less than $5 per year.

    Personally we rarely used textbooks before she started middle school.  We downloaded resources from the internet or wrote our own.  But we used tons of printables.  I am a big fan of discovery school puzzlemaker for making my own word finds or crosswords or mazes.   Homeschool Share has lap books or Five in a row activities.   Donna Young's printables help with organizing paperwork and planning as well as having some ideas printables for specific subjects too. But those are just the ones off the top of my head.  I copied or rewrote several wikapedia entries for my daughter's sducation,  and made worksheets or games to test her understanding.  On many yahoo groups I joined people had done up worksheets or games on subjects I needed, but hadn't got around to.  Often if I shared mine they would share theirs, allowing everyone to benefit.  Many yahoo groups are local and also organize field trips, or local activities.  Many field trip locations provide their own scavenger hunts or worksheets on their site to be done before, after or while you are there.

     Those are the resources I use most often.  I have lurked on DKos  and listening to moody rant for many years, but this is my first diary so please be gentle.


Thanks for reading Education Alternative's Series on Homeschooling!

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a lovely list of resources! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner

    There is so much available nowadays that it is good to get recommendations from folks. It helps slim down the options and definitely pinpoints the best ones.

    I especially liked the textbook website. I'm afraid their prices have gone up to $19.95 and I wish they just had a simple list of all texts available. I'm going to go back and explore even though we don't use very many texts. I do rely on them for high school math instructions, particularly Key Curriculum Press. Even used, one of their textbooks runs $50-$75. Yikes.

    •  Complete curriculum has ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Moody Loner, angelajean

      one text per grade per subject.  Of the ones I skimmed through science was evenly split between life, physical and earth sciences for the forts six years then does more in depth Earth science and physical science in 7th, 8th and 9th, biology in 10th and chemistry in 11th.
      Math is by grade level until 9th for pre-algebra, 10th has two texts for Algebra and Geometry, and pre-calculus in 11th. Social studies is fairly grade level and basic in early years focusing on history alternating between US and world studies from about fourth through about ninth grades with economics or civics in 10th and back to world history for 11th.  Language arts uses classic books and poems, at least for the sixth grade test, and all the reading is included with each lesson, so if she is told to read chapter 3 of the secret garden and answer questions, the chapter is in her PDF and the questions are there too.

      •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Moody Loner

        I think we'll skip then since I already have texts that work for us. But what a good resource for someone starting out, especially if their child learns well from textbooks.

        We turned to Key Curriculum for math because they used so many real life examples to teach higher math. My kids learn best with hands on experience and the text provides plenty of opportunity for that. Ironically, they don't recommend their texts for homeschoolers because of the amount of group work that they encourage but they underestimate the abilities of homeschoolers to improvise. In one example, they take everyone's pulse in class and graph the results - my son asked everyone he encountered for a day to take their pulse instead. It worked just fine :)

  •  We're looking for more more diaries for our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner

    Saturday series! If you're interested in writing for Education Alternatives, would you let me know?

    We also want to start a series on successful public schools - both charter and traditional. Contact me via kosmail is this sounds like something you would like to help tackle.

  •  People often bring up the expense of homeschooling (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Moody Loner

    forgetting the cost of schooling.  You spent less in 7 years than I might have spent in one year for all of the money-raising events in my son's public school.  Things are changing, and the internet is a very egalitarian textbook, although one thing I have noticed about homeschooling families is, they have no shortage of books!

    Seems you have to creatively stretch a dollar to homeschool.  

    If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

    by rosabw on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 07:34:31 AM PDT

  •  hello cruel world! great first diary- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Moody Loner, rosabw

    my best friend homeschools her kids. i could never do it.

    they used to do a lot w/ a coop, but they've stopped for now. do you have any other homeschooling families you team up w/ on some subjects?

    one thing that made me happy is their local elementary school is very supportive of homeschooling families- the kids can use school resources and go on field trips, attend gym class, etc. is it like that for you too?

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 07:37:36 AM PDT

    •  I love communities that embrace homeschoolers (4+ / 0-)

      like that of your friend. I actually think this is the future of education in the US - not a true homeschool, not a true school all day but a blend. Leftyparent wrote about it last week in 21st Century Hybrid Education.

      I'm curious - you and lots of others who don't homeschool often begin the conversation by saying that you couldn't do it. I wonder why you think that? Is it because you still see homeschooling as bringing the classroom home? Or is it the patience issue? BTW, I have lost my patience many times, including one shameful event where I threw a whiteboard to the ground. Served as a good life lesson for my boys and myself. If I had been a public school teacher, I probably would have been fired :(  I learned that if I was losing my patience then the methods I was using weren't the most effective to teach my kids.

      •  i work two jobs- (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Moody Loner

        even before my husband and i separated, i was the breadwinner.

        my kids can come to work w/ me when necessary, which is nice. i just don't see a scenario where i'll have the means to stay home w/ the kids.

        "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

        by thankgodforairamerica on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 08:08:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That makes a lot of sense. (2+ / 0-)

          I have been reading more about single parents homeschooling but I often wonder at the organization that must take. I know one family here in DC who is homeschooling a high school student while both parents work. She is very motivated to school herself but obviously this wouldn't work for a younger student who couldn't spend time on her own. And they are doing it for the time that they live here. She follows a strict curriculum so that she can return to public school.

          I'm happy to live in a nation that is open to embracing all kinds of education alternatives  and I look forward to a time when everyone feels like the choices on offer include the best choices for their families.

        •  In some states you must be with your children (3+ / 0-)

          all the time to homeschool, but not as many as people think.  Depending on the wording in most states if the parent "is responsible" for the children's education, they can homeschool.  This doesn't mean that the parent can't decide on the activities they want their child to do and have Grandma, or a neighbor or a friend actually do them with the child.  I have known several parents, (including me), of single homeschooled kids who would jump at the opportunity to add another child to their day to be able to play games or have more interaction in their education.  You plan the curriculum, they oversee it, their child has friends, your child has a more focused education.  My daughter had a friend who had homeschooled for several years before her mother died suddenly.  Her step father was not really homeschool friendly but wanted to continue to follow his late wife's wishes so would drop her off at another homeschooler's house every morning so she could continue homeschooling.  I have also known homeschoolers that are older who follow Mom's lesson plans at home while she works, or some who began home businesses and included working in the home business as part of their education.  Even small kids can dump packing peanuts or count items in boxes. It is a choice only you can make but there are people out there that can offer advice on ho to make it work if it is what you really want.

  •  Homeschooling conventions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner, angelajean, lurkyloo

    I would be quite leery that those would have a strong religious element to them.

  •  Thank you for the resources! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner, angelajean

    My son is now 2, and we have been seriously considering the homeschool option. Having resources you linked to and recommended will be a huge help in this area.

    Now I just have to potty-train him...

    "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

    by DeathDlr73 on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 07:42:59 AM PDT

    •  Remember, Leftyparent has put together this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TexMex, DeathDlr73, Moody Loner, rosabw

      great list of all our homeschool diariesand he is continuing to add to it as we write more (we're requesting resource diaries from more writers just because of folks like you!)

      •  I follow lefty for that reason! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, Moody Loner, rosabw

        And will soon begin seriously reviewing all sources. Potty training first, longer attention span, better word use, and we'll be off the the races.

        "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

        by DeathDlr73 on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 08:13:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly, I don't think any parent should worry (5+ / 0-)

          too much about teaching their child until they are much, much older. The process of play teaches kids more than we possibly ever can. As long as you expose your child to diverse opportunities to learn and play, your child will learn. And the best lesson for kids? If they see you reading, they will read. If they see you writing, they will write. If they see you wonder at the world, they will wonder. Children are natural mimics and if they spend lots of time with their parents, they will mimic you more than their peers.

          I'm a little jealous of you... you have a whole future wide in front of you. I'm just about to end our homeschooling in the next few years and I will be sad when it happens. I love this part of my life - hopefully I will find ways to remain engaged in child centered learning with children that just aren't my own.

          •  Play is where we are at right now (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, Moody Loner, leftyparent

            Good with MegaBlocks, but doesn't have the patience for a floor jigsaw yet. Still trying to figure out if he's right-handed or left; eats with right, uses crayons with the left.

            My wife and I will begin playing chess on a regular basis so he can be exposed to it; she isn't a fan because I always beat her, but the thought pattern certain games evoke is well worth it.

            I like to think of myself as patient, but been waiting for years to start teaching him stuff!

            "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

            by DeathDlr73 on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 08:28:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe you and your wife should learn a new game (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Moody Loner

              together than put you both on a more even keel - I would love to suggest the Japanese game of GO. Of course, the pieces are small so you might want to wait until you have a kid that won't eat them :)

              We loved floor puzzles as well... it will happen before you know it. Are you familiar with these pattern blocks? They might satisfy some of your desire for puzzle floor play but be age appropriate for a guy who isn't ready to put together a puzzle.

              •  If you have a GO board, you also have... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Moody Loner, angelajean

                ..a Pente board, and it's a lot simpler; either way the pieces are currently too small for him. We have Othello as one of our starter games, but I've always been a strong believer in chess.

                We're getting tight on floor space (and storage room) for more expansive puzzles and such. He honestly needs to develop a bit more patience to complete any sort of pattern, with or without help (he's 27 months). Still at the point of tantrums when he doesn't get immediate gratification...but we're working on it.

                We actually have a fair amount of games we enjoy playing (Monopoly, Sorry, Battleship, Boggle, Scrabble), but nearly all have pieces too small for the moment.

                Like I said, patience on my part is necessary.

                "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

                by DeathDlr73 on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 09:40:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Play was so important to my development... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected

              A kid's imagination play can get very sophisticated... http://www.leftyparent.com/...

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

              by leftyparent on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 11:52:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Playing games was such a learning experience... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected

              for me, particularly the complicated military simulation board games, weaving history, strategy, logistics and systems... http://www.leftyparent.com/...

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

              by leftyparent on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 11:55:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't use any "curriculum" when she was small (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, Moody Loner

      It was more important to me to inspire her curiosity and help her discover the answers on her own.  What type of bird came to our feeder? We took a picture and looked at pictures in books at the library or took our picture to the nature museum and compared there.  Who was the first person to do something she saw or did?  We looked it up on the internet.  We played in sand and mud.  Cornstarch and water is something all kids should explore early and often.  It dusts off when it dries and even vacuums but I still generally keep it outside or in the kitchen.  Letting them wonder and discover on their own lets them develop deeper understanding and create stronger memory bonds

      The only other school like activities were to read as often as she would ask me to or let me.  I read to her every night until she was nine.  Then she told me she would rather listen to audio books because they did better voices.  She still listens to audio books so fall asleep.

      When she started "school", I was a coward.  She found a scroll hanging from a tree outside inviting her to the Hogwarts Elementary correspondence school.  She received her texts and supplies in a "owl post box" she was instructed to make. and every few days she got new assignments there.  They were coloring pages or mazes or cut and paste activities that fit with her courses, (I think she had "kindercharms", aka copywork and spelling, magical creatures, potions, Defense against the dark arts, aka memorizing our phone number, learning our address, answering what would you do if questions, etc., and arithmancy, aka math games.  We added more subjects as we went on, but if she blew off an assignment it was Hagrid or Professor Snape who scolded her, not me.  She figured it out eventually, but it was fun while it lasted.

      •  Firing their imagination... (0+ / 0-)

        was one of the main things I did with my kids... I so enjoyed it!

        I too also read a lot to them for many years, particularly big long fantasy and sci-fi classics until they were skilled enough readers to read them themselves.  Sharing those fantastical worlds with them that I loved... what could be better!

        Now my daughter is a budding sci-fi writer herself, working on a young-adult sci-fi book.

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

        by leftyparent on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 11:59:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good resources...remember that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner, angelajean, leftyparent

    even in these tough economic times there may be free resources in less typical places.  Some local/regional newspapers offer guides to discussing the news (one even had a "stock market game" to play with your children.  Farm bureaus often have excellent free resources for science and animal husbandry.  If you are fortunate enough to be near a zoo, state park, science center or natural history museum, be on the lookout for free tours, lectures and special events.

    Finally, don't be shy....if your student has a special interest (accounting or horticulture, for instance), your student can contact local/regional special interest groups on that subject and inquire about materials, websites, suggestions, etc.

    [Can you tell I miss our homeschooling days.....]

    •  So are your homeschooled kids young adults... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      now?  You've probably shared before but I'm not remembering.  My two kids, unschooled during their teen years, are now 23 and 26 and are immersed in their adult lives.

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

      by leftyparent on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 12:02:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Both my sons are young adults with special needs. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean

        Each is "excelling" in his own way, although behind the typical schedule and at his own pace.

        Homeschooling was a godsend and I enjoyed every minute.  Both completed high school in "regular school" as it was known around here and I don't regret that; but those homeschooling years are precious to me.

        Thanks for asking, and congrats on unschooling -- a step we never took but always seemed to me to be a "right place, right time" education for so many kiddos who eagerly wanted to learn outside the rigorous box of do-it-now-and-my-way.

  •  When we first started homeschooling (4+ / 0-)

    I had two great piece of advice:

    1. came from the homeschool support group that I already knew someone involved with, and that was DO NOT GO OUT AND BUY CURRICULUM.  give it some time, figure out what works for your kids, what other resources there are, etc.

    2.  I read an article, and I wish I knew where, that said, all you need to get started is three things:  A backyard, a kitchen and a library card.

    Those two pieces of advice have saved me tons of money, time, etc.  We are starting our 6th year, and while I've bought some things, I have never bought a precanned complete curriculum, and really, have never found the need for one.

    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

    by k8dd8d on Sat Sep 08, 2012 at 09:42:17 PM PDT

    •  Sounds like good advice... (0+ / 0-)

      Purchase nothing and leverage that backyard, kitchen and library card, along with the Internet.  Sounds like good advice. Decomoditize learning.  But stuff if all else fails.

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

      by leftyparent on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 12:20:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A nice addition to our index... (0+ / 0-)

    in the area of homeschool resources.  Thanks for posting!

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

    by leftyparent on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 12:21:59 PM PDT

  •  We use Netflix (0+ / 0-)

    The kids don't have cable in their bedrooms, but I do have Wiis hooked to three different televisions.  A Wii (bought used) and Netflix streaming is great for documentaries.  Both of my older kids (12 and 9) are fantastic users of the internet.  I also have my Kindle Fire loaded with pretty much every piece of literature written before 1923 (the Delphi Classic collections are amazing) so I can pull up a poem or a story or a novel at a moment's notice.  Great diary!

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