I learned to snoop out free resources wherever they may be hiding in order to provide my children with a quality education while still being able to buy groceries. -Kathryn Frazier – Homeschooling for Free – Home Education Magazine September-October 2007
Where can you find the best resources for your child without breaking your budget? Many times instead of purchasing resources, they can be found for free, or almost free. After all, many home educators are living on one income and their choices are sometimes limited to a budget. Many find free resources at the public library, community learning opportunities via local museums, parks and other interesting places. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of free resources and Wikipedia and MIT’s OpenCourseware are two excellent examples. Many resources can be found at a fraction of a cost at flea markets, thrift shops, swaps and online auctions. Just do a web search for any of these and you will be amazed at what you find.
Who doesn’t want to stretch their dollar? Here are a few articles and resources that may help you to do just that.
Free the Curriculum – Helen Hegener
One of the more fascinating websites and blogs I’ve come across recently is Lawrence Lessigâ€™s; Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the schoolâ€™s Center for Internet and Society. Professor Lessig is the author of Free Culture (2004), The Future of Ideas (2001) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999). He chairs the Creative Commons project, and serves on the boards of several foundations related to electronic frontiers and public knowledge. Hereâ€™s a link to his entire impressive bio.
Big Hairy Audacious Goals – Julie Bogart
Because we have five kids and a small budget, I’ve discovered that B-HAGs can also be pursued on the cheap. As I mentioned before, instead of purchasing season tickets to the Shakespeare performances, we usher the shows we want to see and take the seats that are left.
I couldn’t afford to pay for both kids to take the Vintage Dance lessons, but suddenly they both wanted to. The director allowed us to distribute flyers to pay for the lessons. I drove through neighborhoods and the kids ran up and down sidewalks tucking yellow advertisements into mailboxes. Not only did I save money on the lessons, but the kids owned the activity so much more. Their commitment to “earning their way” revealed their commitment to the classes.
Learning to Fish – Cafi Cohen
In person, and via the web, telephone and snail mail, I probably talk to 50-100 homeschooling families each month. During these discussions, I repeatedly hear the same query:
Where can I find ____________ ? Fill in:
* An independent-study school for high-achieving teens
* Flying lessons
* Book with hands-on math units
* Driver’s training
* Mentor for a future veterinarian
* Other teenagers
* Inexpensive microscopes
* Free, on-line Spanish course
* Grace Llewellyn’s Homeschooling Camp for Teenagers
* Remedial Spelling Program
As a military family, we moved a lot when we were homeschooling. As a result, we all learned to find resources fast. I am also an information junkie and enjoy networking for other homeschoolers. But I can only do so much. My choice, often, is to give you a fish or teach you to fish. This article is an attempt to teach you to fish.
Homeschoolers, Is Our Good Name For Sale? – Larry and Susan Kaseman
We can show parents that it is not only possible but highly desirable and rewarding to homeschool without assistance or resources from public schools or the government, that you don’t have to be connected to or regulated by the government to learn, and, in fact, for many families it is much better not to be. We can share ways we have discovered to homeschool inexpensively. We can communicate such information through magazines like this, inclusive grassroots state organizations, local support groups, homeschooling conferences, and meetings to inform the general public about homeschooling.
Pretending is a marvelous way for children to practice math skills, and even older children can have fun with these family activities:
Set up a grocery department in one corner of your home. Shelves can be simple and small. Arrange empty food boxes on the shelves, mark prices on them, and open the store for your toddler’s enjoyment. You’ll need an inexpensive package of play money, and a play purse or wallet. Take turns acting as store keeper and clerk. When your child hands you his selection and money, count out his change the way the cashier would do. Encourage him to do the same when you finish shopping (of course, he isn’t going to be able to count change accurately, but pretending to helps him understand the concepts).
Less is More – Cafi Cohen
First consider that your community often provides better outlets for your kids’ explorations than any program you could buy. For example, our daughter Tamara completed 4-H’s Public Speaking Project two years in a row. This project required her to deliver a prepared speech, memorize and present a poem to an audience, speak extemporaneously on a topic, and compile a record of the experience, including an essay. Great “hands-on” Language Arts. Membership in 4-H was a fraction of the cost of many language arts programs; and 4-H yielded many other opportunities for education, socialization, and entertainment.
Second, looking first to the community for resources encourages autonomy and creative problem solving. A young homeschooler I know trades housework for pottery and Spanish lessons. Another teenage homeschooler attends her church’s adult comparative religions class because she has a consuming interest in the topic and nothing is offered for her age group. A third has taught herself to sew, using a neighbor’s machine and occasional help. Yet another has found algebra help through an online web site. And so on.
As the internet evolves, free resources can be found in many places, but here are just a few: