Step 3 in my 6 Steps to Ensure Your Homeschool Can Survive A Financial Crisis is to look at Free, Nearly Free, or low-cost curriculum choices to see if you can use an alterative if your homeschool budget is significantly reduced or evaporates althogether.
Here are three free homeschool curriculums worth looking at. If you like lesson plans or schedules to help guide your path, all three of these offer free lesson plans – either daily, weekly. And each have active communities of homeschoolers who are using the curriculums.
Using a combination of free public domain materials and resources you’ll need to purchase or borrow, Ambleside Online provides a full curriculum for k-12 in Charlotte Mason style. Striving to create a free curriculum that Charlotte Mason herself would use, the volunteers at Ambleside Online have put together a full, robust homeschool curriculum.
The homeschoolers who use Ambleside Online are very generous with their knowledge and in helping bring more and more free resources online to implement a Charlotte Mason style homeschool. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge here, if you are interested in literature-based or Charlotte Mason-style curriculum.
If you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason and her teachings, I recommend reading Ambleside Online’s Introduction to Charlotte Mason and either Charlotte Mason’s original writings (available free on Ambleside Online) or a copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola.
Note: Ambleside Online is primarily a Christain homeschool curriculum, but because it is literature- and nature study- based, it is also easy for the secular homeschooler to adapt.
An Old Fashioned Education is a free homeschool curriculum based on classic public domain literature and text books. The entire curriculum was developed by Miss Maggie, the founder of Hillbilly Housewife (one of my favorite frugal cooking sites), for her boys, after she discovered Ambleside Online wasn’t structured enough for her family.
Even if you don’t use the full curriculum, Miss Maggie has pre-screened, categorized, and links an amazing amount of free literature and public domain textbooks, making the site a wonderful reference on where to find free books for your homeschool.
The 3RHomeschooling yahoo group provides excellent support for those using An Old Fashioned Education, as well as other literature-based curriculum. Again, the members are as generous in their knowledge as Miss Maggie was in putting together this curriculum and ensuring it remains free.
Note: An Old Fashioned Education is a Christain homeschool curriculum, that uses books with a strong moral focus. However the secular homeschooler will also find the site useful in finding free homeschool curriculum and classic literature in public domain.
SimplyCharlotteMason.com is another free homeschool curriculum for those looking for a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool. Like Ambleside Online, this curriculum uses both free public domain litature and more contemporary resources that you will need to purchase or borrow. There is a free Curriculum Guide for Grades 1-12, and suggested resources for each subject by grade.
There’s a Community Forum for this site, where you can get support and questions answered. Also the two families who designed this curriculum give workshops.
This site is more commerical than Ambleside Online and An Old Fashioned Education. The site owners sell items on the site and their Charlotte Mason (“living book”) book finder does link to Amazon. But the curriculum and many of the resources are free or are available free from public domain sites. One special freebie unique to this site is the Book of Centuries - a free, downloadable pdf file that allows you to put together a history timeline notebook.
Note: Simply Charlotte Mason is also a free Christain homeschool curriculum, but like the other two, it can be adapted by the secular homeschooler by eliminating certain resources.
Next week, I’ll share more free homeschool resources, as this series on ensuring your homeschool can endure a financial crisis continues. In the meantime, if you have experience using one of these curriculums or know of another free, full homeschool curriculum besides these three, please share in the comments below.
P.S. In case you are curious, I’ve tested out An Old Fashioned Education, and use it as an additional resource when looking for free living books for our homeschool.