How to Build a Free Homeschool Curriculum
I have always wanted to homeschool my kids and am incredibly lucky that my husband’s job allows me to stay home with them and do just that. When we got started, I had no idea how stressful or expensive it would be. I bought curricula that we’ve never used. I have several more that we started to use but just couldn’t stick to. After hundreds of wasted dollars, I realized I was trying to make our family fit into a curriculum that would just never work. When I figured out how to build a free homeschool curriculum, everything else just sort of clicked.
And a must read: To the Mom That Feels Overwhelmed with Homeschooling
What Does my Homeschooler Need to Learn
Here is the number one most important aspect to creating your own homeschool curriculum.
You need to figure out what your local school district teaches so you can cover all of those basics.
Unless you’re an unschooler, you will likely want to touch on all of the main subjects while tweaking them to fit your family’s values.
Google “scope and sequence <your city>”\
For us, this looked like “Kindergarten scope and sequence Sarasota, FL.”
This will bring up your local school district’s scope and sequence.
What is Scope and Sequence?
This is just a list of the broad topics covered by your local school district.
Should you ever decide to put your child in our local school district, they’ll be on pace with their peers if you just follow these basics.
What If I Live in a Bad School District?
Because I wasn’t completely sure we’d stay in our current city or where we’d end up, I googled “what state has the most strict public school standards.”
A recent list of education rankings listed Massachusetts higher than our home state.
I looked up their scope and sequence and built our curriculum based on that.
Where to Find Free Homeschool Resources
Now that you have the scope and sequence you’re using, the best place to start to look for free homeschool resources is Teachers Pay Teachers.
Teachers Pay Teachers is awesome on so many levels.
You create a free account and then search for any topic under the sun in the search bar.
You can narrow your results down by grade level and cost.
If you have zero homeschool budget, select the free option.
You can then go through the list and view a preview of all of the files.
Each of these resources is created by a teacher and they benefit if you should select a product that costs money.
It’s important to note that all of the resources are printables.
I purchased this printer for $50 at Best Buy on a crazy sale and have HP instant ink.
I love HP Instant ink because I can adjust the plan depending on how much we’re printing.
If I know we’re going to be set for a little while, I downgrade our plan for a few months to the 99 cent/ month plan.
Right now, we’re using the $11.99 plan with 900 roll over page
When our ink is low, HP sends me new cartridges before we run out.
I buy the cheapest reams of paper at Walmart and we hardly notice either of these costs in our budget.
Benefits of Building Your Own Curriculum
Here is why I can’t get onboard with boxed curricula anymore.
You have no idea, at least in the early years, what kind of learner you have on your hands.
I would have told you my oldest would hate worksheets and be a completely hands on learner.
He’s the only one of our kids that will happily sit down and work on worksheets and begs for workbooks.
He’s the one that’s always climbing trees and playing in the dirt.
This is the child that builds with whatever he can find.
Never would you think he would be content to learn his letters with a workbook.
Yet here we are.
I personally love the Montessori philosophy and use it in our homeschool as much as my controlling nature will allow.
Building our own curriculum allows me to spend more money on Montessori materials that we may otherwise not be able to afford.
I recently completed this Montessori course that I loved – but I’m even tweaking this.
More Free Homeschool Resources
One of the best free homeschool resources aside from Teachers Pay Teachers is Khan Academy.
I have no idea how Khan Academy is free.
If you’re not especially gifted with math, Khan Academy is the online spot for you.
We use Khan Academy Kids for our kids and you can customize it to their age and learning level.
Never underestimate the value of Pinterest.
Even though it’s been updated to be way less user friendly recently, it’s still an awesome place to search for homeschool activities and ideas.
There are lots of bloggers out there with free resource libraries.
If you find a homeschool blogger that you love, it definitely pays to get on their email list and watch their library as they add new things.
We haven’t used Printable Paradise yet, but I’m interested in a few of the geography resources I noticed there.
Homeschool.com has been around forever.
They have TONS of free printables and worksheets for all grade levels.
Free Montessori Materials
We love Montessori!
The perk of Montessori is it’s so hands on and child-led.
The downside is it can be EXPENSIVE.
Especially if you’re purchasing authentic Montessori products built to Maria Montessori’s strict standards.
The great news for Montessori homeschoolers on a budget is that Montessori believed in using what you have.
Montessoriprintshop.com offers both free and paid resources.
For an extensive list of free Montessori materials online, check out this post from Living Montessori Now.
She is an amazing Montessori blogger in her own right and produces quality content and free materials on a regular basis.
Am I Smart Enough to Homeschool?
A word to the homeschooler on a budget.
Please, please, please, never doubt your ability to homeschool your child just because your budget may be limited.
I can promise you that no one cares more about the quality of your child’s education than you do.
I can also assure you that an expensive curriculum and expensive materials does not a great education make.
Take it from me.
I’ve wasted so much money on expensive homeschool things and have come back to tried and true DIY homeschool and free printables time and time again.
A great book to read if you’re struggling with feeling “good enough” in your role as a homeschooler is The Brave Learner.
I checked it out from my library and read it as fast as I could.
It truly gave me the permission I needed to put together my own curriculum (or just be an unschooler for a while without curriculum) and to slow down.
Education isn’t a race.
My main goal in homeschooling my kids is to never extinguish their curiosity and hunger for learning.
When we spend so much time planning and organizing and dictating information at our kids, they stop seeking out information on their own.
Give yourself the permission to stop trying to make a curriculum fit your family, to slow down, and to follow your child.
A key Maria Montessori principle.
Do you think you could get on board with building your own curriculum? What homeschool philosophy describes your family best? Let me know in the comments!