The answer to this question really depends on you, your kids and your family’s lifestyle. Not everyone will be able to homeschool the exact same way; but the short answer is: NO, you don’t need expensive curriculum to homeschool your children. It CAN be done without spending a ton of money!
When I first started homeschooling, I checked into getting a standard curriculum for my kids. Unfortunately, all of the “good” sets (you know, the ones that include all required school subjects) cost at least $500-600 a piece! (That was then, I’m not sure what they cost now!) When I first started, I had 2 kids in school, so it wasn’t as expensive as when I had all 5 of them in school, but $1,000-1,200 is a rather large chunk of change all the same. Once I got all 5 of my kids in school, the $2,500-$3,000 wasn’t even in the running of possibilities.
For that reason, purchasing standard curriculum resources was not feasible for my family. Instead, I would teach my kids the various topics using my own knowledge, library books, and worksheets that I would either purchase on Amazon or download from various websites. This worked for us, at least when the kids were smaller. Now, I have 1 student in high school, 1 in junior high and 2 in the elementary grades. Yes, my oldest has already graduated. In some subjects, my older 2 have surpassed my level of knowledge, and I’m finding it more difficult and time consuming to get enough learning materials for all 4 of them…especially enough to keep them challenged!
I recently hit the curriculum jackpot at a yardsale; I can’t even begin to tell you everything I bought, but most of my curriculum is complete for all 4 kids for the next 3 years. And I spent less than $100! I really did hit the jackpot. I pray that your needs are met as fully as mine!
Deschooling the Public Schooled Mom
Anyway, let me get back on topic. One problem I ran into, as a public schooled Mom, was deschooling myself. In my experience, school equaled textbooks, worksheets, assignments and term papers. Sound familiar? As homeschoolers, we don’t have to follow that norm, but we are left not knowing what else to do! We are so “programmed” into thinking that to learn, we have to do this or do that, but we really don’t.
Some children actually learn better with set curriculum. I have a couple of children like that; I personally believe it’s the structure (which I’m just too busy to create all that on my own!), but with a series of already planned activities and preset worksheets, tests and readings, some kids just learn better. I have two children that do much better with hands on activities. If it’s time to learn about dinosaurs, they’d rather go to the museum, watch videos and build models than read some dry text and fill out papers.
And this is perfectly OK! That’s the beauty of homeschooling (or one of its beauties)! We can teach our children however we want, however they learn best. But, to realize that, we need to deschool ourselves from our public school programming that taught us we had to use official curriculum in order to be successful with our education.
How Your Child Learns
The next question is how does your child learn? Everyone has their own learning style, and to educate your child in the best way possible, you need to figure out what it is. I find this part of homeschooling the most challenging; I can’t just plan one activity for all of them, as some will find it fun, others will find it boring and still another just won’t “get it”. **hint hint** This is where the public school system is failing too…
Will your child be able to learn, using the tools a traditional curriculum will provide? Mine typically are, but not all of the time. It gets “boring” after a while (my kids’ words, not mine!), which is why I have to switch it up and add some different hands on, fun activities.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Time is definitely another factor. When my kids were younger, I had the time to put together learning tools, supplies and fun activities. Now that they’re older, however, my time is spent shuffling them from here to there, and I don’t have as much time as I used to! In my experience, the older the kids get, the more time it takes to get lessons, materials and activities together. Creating your own lesson plans CAN be done, it really isn’t difficult, but it IS time consuming.
That’s where sites like this one come into play. We provide you with links to free resources, so you can use them in your day to day planning without spending hours of your own time searching for them! Subscribe to a few of these types of sites so you can be notified when they find new material for you. It will help, trust me! You have no idea how much time I spend combing the Internet to find the things I share with you on here. 🙂
How Many Kids are You Teaching?
This is just as important as how much time you have. Obviously, if you have one child, it’s more likely that you will have the time needed to create fun learning activities and lesson plans that will be exciting for your child to do! Unfortunately, when you get up to 3, 4, or even 5 kids, it’s not only the financial investment that rises. Your time investment also rises exponentially.
Keep in mind that there are things you can do to make your homeschooling day go smoother, such as teaching the same topics to all of your kids at the same time; this way, all you have to do is divide them into their own age level or knowledge level activities after the learning activity…this has worked well for me in some areas, but can still be a challenge for kids who all have different learning styles!
Take a lesson about the Mayans as an example. We may have a documentary to watch, then we all discuss the “cool” aspects we remember from the film. **I know, I just aged myself with that one word…** I really like using the Eyewitness Books books, I think they give a LOT of information about different topics, all laid out in an interesting way. So we would all look through the book together, again noting the interesting aspects of Mayan culture. Then, the older ones may need to write a type of research paper, or create a presentation in Powerpoint (we love Powerpoint!), while the younger ones may answer some questions and create a lapbook. I may even find some worksheets to reinforce the learning (my younger ones happen to enjoy worksheets for some weird reason).
So What’s the Verdict?
So DO you need expensive curriculum in order to homeschool your kids? No! You don’t! But you do have to realize that it will take time and effort (multiplied by the number of kids you have, of course, then again by the age of your kid(s)) to create your own learning lessons.
What are your thoughts? Do you buy pre-packaged curriculum? What kind do you use? Do you create your own? Perhaps you unschool? Share your thoughts in the comments below!