As a Homeschool Coach, one of the questions I get asked a lot is about whether free curriculum measures up to higher priced curriculum. The answer is yes and no. When choosing homeschool curriculum on a limited budget, there are some things you can do to find the perfect match.
You can read my other blog post here on choosing curriculum, and get well on your way.
Sometimes You Get What You Pay For
Let me first start by saying that sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes spending money on that bells & whistles curriculum isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
There are several free and online homeschool curriculum that I will not recommend to my clients when coaching them.
Why? Several reasons.
1| The material provided is lacking in depth and breadth.
2| The sources used for references are not acceptable.
3| The amount of grammatical and spelling errors make me question the validity and qualifications of the author.
4| From a scientific standpoint, faith and religious belief are used as facts. In other words, can the information and data provided, be proven by generally accepted scientific means, at this very moment in time?
Weeding Through the Piles
Homeschool curriculum is not all the same, and choosing a perfect match from the pile can feel overwhelming. There are some things you can check out to see if you have a quality product when choosing homeschool curriculum.
1| Look for spelling, syntax, and grammatical errors. Many curricula that have not been edited or reviewed, have multiple issues in this area. Cheaper or free curricula may not have been edited throughly.
2| Look at the sources used to create the curriculum.
- Do the people contributing to the text, have the credentials and background to be speaking about the subject?
- Are there mutliple voices contributing to the text, rather than one person trying to manage every subject and topic?
- Where did the author pull their resources for creating the curriculum?
- Is the math confusing, or have many answers wrong, or ambiguous answers? Is the information accurate?
- Does the literature dive deep into content, or just skim the surface? (This may or may not be an issue depending on what you are teaching.)
- Does it fit in with your personal philosophy on education? If the district provided it free, it must be okay, right? Not necessarily.
3| Is it public school at home? That may be what you are looking for, or what your district requires, but if it’s not the reason; consider why you chose homeschooling to begin with. Was it for the joy and freedom it provides? Find a curriculum that fits in with that joy.
Double Check Resources
1| Check sources for acceptability.
- Any site that uses Wikipedia as a reference, is eliminated from my listing of recommendations. When you are choosing homeschool curriculum, you need to verify the sources being used. Wikipedia allows anyone to contribute on any topic. Think of it this way, if it’s not an acceptable resource in college, don’t make it acceptable in your homeschool.
Is Higher Priced Curriculum Better?
Higher priced curriculum is not necessarily better. I’ve seen several that still have the above issues. But generally, larger companies tend to have editors, curriculum writers that are versed on a variety of topics, and solid resources based on scientific facts and data.
What To Do If You Are On A Limited Budget
There are ways to get exactly what you need when choosing a homeschooling curriculum on a limited budget.
- Don’t settle for subpar. We spend so much money on cars, furniture, and other things we need. Our children’s education is important. Sit down at the beginning of the school year and figure out exactly how much money you will need to buy what you feel is a good match for your child.
2| Pick and choose
- Pick and choose where you spend your money. If that math curriculum is going to help make your day easier, go ahead and spend the money. Trim the budget on other areas.
- Are there curricula at home that will suffice just fine for this year?
- Can you borrow your favorite curricula from another homeschooling mom?
- Maybe you want to forgo the really expensive curriculum for an amazing hands on learning activity, or sports participation too. All of it is curriculum in my eyes.
3| Sell something
- Have a yard sale, lemonade stand, make crafts, to offset the price of that bells and whistles curriculum you want.
Free Can Be Downright Amazing!
Free doesn’t always mean subpar. Rather, it is our job as parents to make sure our children are receiving an education that they deserve, not getting the leftovers. There are many, many websites and programs with free curricula that provide amazing learning experiences. Research them, make a spreadsheet if you have to, let your children have a voice in the choosing, and narrow down your choices.
Cheap Can Be Amazing!
What About Unschooling?
Unschoolers are amazing at knowing where all the good stuff is. Their curriculum may be community classes, music lessons, outsourcing learning, sports, hands-on science kits, or world travel. Same rules apply.
Do your research, give your kids the best you can with the budget you can afford, and know what you are getting before you purchase. Choosing homeschool curriculum on a limited budget, need not be an overwhelming process. Start slow, make your lists of the most important stuff, and have some good conversations with your kids about what they would like.
I Still Can’t Find What I Need
If you search for homeschool curriculum on Google you will get a return of 4.5 million hits! That’s where I come in. If you’ve been searching endlessly, but can’t seem to find a curriculum match for your child’s learning needs, I’ve got you covered. Or maybe, you are just tired of posting to homeschooling groups on Facebook, asking for a new recommendation because you’ve tried them all!
Did you know that I coach clients in finding a curriculum match to suit their needs? I have a database of over 1800 curricula that I use to help my clients, and I’m always adding to it. I start with an extensive questionnaire so that I can learn more about you and your child’s particular learning needs. We look at what has and hasn’t worked, and where it will lead next. Then we drill down, filter our information, try some things out and voila! Well, it’s not that easy, but it definitely is a collaborative process. If you are tired of circling the curriculum drain, check out my Gold Coaching Package-it might be just the thing you need.
And, if you feel like you need ongoing support, my Homeschool for Success Membership program might be just the thing to get you on a solid foundation with homeschooling.
There are so many ways to find the resources you need on your homeschool journey. Let me know what you need!