When my parents first pulled my brother and me out of private school to educate us at home in 1994, we were on the very fringe of an often misunderstood movement. We knew only two other families who homeschooled their kids. We heard rumors that there were others, but had no way to get in touch with them. It was nearly impossible to find resources, so my mother used a lot of the same curriculum that had been used by our last school. My mother often said that she wished she had pulled us out to homeschool earlier, but she had no way of knowing where to purchase materials or curricula. Obviously this was before the internet became widely used.
The homeschooling landscape has changed a lot in the last twenty years. Negative stereotypes that hounded us in 1994 have largely been proven ridiculous. When I started homeschooling my kindergartener last year, I was up to my eyeballs in resources, many of them free. My parents spent $1000 on curricula the first year they taught us at home. In 2014 I spent less than $100.
Here’s a selection of my favorite articles and homeschool resources for all ages, and they’re all free.
Homeschool Philosophy/ Homeschool Tips
1) Avoiding Homeschool Burnout
Burnout is the #1 problem homeschoolers face, which is why I listed it as the very first link. How many of us start the year with glorious expectations of our children’s academic success, only to find, six weeks in, that we are living an unsustainable model? Read Avoiding Homeschool Burnout for tips from experienced homeschooling parents.
2) Using Netflix in Homeschool Curriculum
3) “The Baby IS the Lesson”
Many families homeschool for moral or religious reasons. Moral instruction is an important part of a child’s upbringing but sometimes gets lost in the busy-ness that is homeschooling. Read The Baby IS The Lesson for inspiration.
Resources for Teaching Art
4) Harrington Harmonies
The author of this blog regularly posts fun and useful art projects around a theme, perfect for younger children who love to explore.
Simple, step-by-step instruction on the more technical side of drawing. Topics include line, value, shape, perspective, and color. Some lessons are free, others require a paid subscription. Browse here for all kinds of lessons in art.
6) Metropolitan Museum of Art – books with full text
You know those giant coffee-table books with all the pictures that they sell at museums? The Metropolitain Museum of Art has published a couple hundred of these over the years, and many of them are now available as free pdf downloads. Not only a good resource for art, but history as well.
7) Google Cultural Institute
Will the wonders of Google never cease? The cultural institute is a searchable image database of museum collections from all over the world, along with item descriptions.
Resources for Teaching Literacy
8) This Reading Mama
Lots and lots of free printable worksheets and emergent readers to inspire literacy in young children. The author of This Reading Mama blog also has products for sale.
9) The Amazing-Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker
My kindergartner is not inspired by his handwriting workbook, which encourages him to write, “Grey Goose,” and “The band can play,” dozens of times. He is very interested, however, in writing about things that interest him, so I regularly print up worksheets for things that say, “Space Shuttle,” and “Jupiter,” and “Kuiper Belt.” This site lets you choose from print manuscript, D’nealian, and cursive handwriting fonts.
Resources for Teaching Math and Science
10) Khan Academy
What started with a guy sharing simple videos on how to do a variety of math problems has evolved into a sophisticated online system of courses on a variety of subjects. Khan Academy math classes range from elementary-level mathematics to differential equations and linear algebra. Also offered are video lectures on history, art history, science, economics, and preparation for college entrance exams. The math section is Common Core Aligned.
11) Physics Animations
Sometimes you have to see a scientific principle in action before you understand it. These short animations of physics concepts are clear and concise.
Resources for Teaching History
12) BBC’s Primary History
This BBC website includes information on a wide cross-section of time periods – colorful illustrations and clear, easy-to-read text.
For Advanced Students: Open Courseware
Open courseware is a term that describes recordings and materials from actual university courses now available for free. Subjects vary from technical fields to history and social science.
For Special Needs Students
15) Homeschooling with Dyslexia
Dyslexia is often misunderstood, and can really throw a wrench in one’s educational plans. Some homeschool philosophies proclaim, “reading is easy, don’t sweat it.” Ha. (As a dyslexic, myself, I ought to know!) This site, Homeschooling with Dyslexia, probably would have been nice to have when I was growing up.
16) Homeschooling Autism.
This Homeschooling Autism blog has a lot of valuable information, though it hasn’t been updated in a few months.
Free! Homeschooling Resources for All Ages
17) Homeschool Giveaways
If you are looking for a site that does all the work for you in compiling lists of free worksheets and print-out activities on nearly every subject you can think of, here it is. This site primarily provides outside links to other sites, some of which require that you sign up for their email newsletter before you can access the material.
18) Homeschool Share.
This site has hundreds of free lapbooks, for a variety of age levels. Each download includes both the activities and the research required to complete it. If you have children in the younger elementary grades, they will love these cut-and-past activities.
If you need to begin homeschooling immediately either by desire or necessity but still don’t know quite where to start, there are several sites that include entire online curricula from kindergarten to high school.
A complete curriculum for all subjects that can be done by a student entirely on the computer.
20) Ambleside Online
Comes with the Survival Mom Stamp of Approval.
21) Discovery K12
Another complete online curriculum.
There are as many different approaches to homeschooling as there are children to be homeschooled. When I first began our homeschool year with my kindergartner, I had a very clear, structured idea of what we would be doing. Our reality became quite different as I decided to pull from a variety of different approaches instead of following one set curriculum, choosing to follow my child’s interests in lieu of a predetermined syllabus. Having the ability to access free homeschool resources for all ages has been a definite help.
Whether you are already homeschooling, or just thinking about it, I hope this short list (because this could have been much, much longer) will be of use.
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