As many families approach the possibility of homeschooling, curriculum costs may become a concern. There is a huge range of prices for various competing programs. It can get expensive, especially when one of those high priced curriculums turns out to be a poor fit for a specific child. Although I definitely feel like a high quality curriculum that is a good fit is worth paying for (at a reasonable price), there are free alternatives that may be a good fit for some families. This article reviews several free homeschool curriculum sources that may be of interest to homeschooling families.
Free Homeschool Curriculum Sources
Ambleside provides a free homeschool curriculum plan that is based on the Charlotte Mason homeschooling philosophies. Their free curriculum plans start with first grade and go up to 12th grade. For each year level (similar to grade level) a downloadable schedule or each week can be used or a list of topics/materials to be covered for the particular grade level.
Many of the recommended books can be downloaded for free from open source sites, such as archive.og. Links are provided from the Ambleside site. Many of the recommended books are also available in Kindle format at an affordable price (under $2). The remaining books would likely be available for free through a public library system.*
*For year 1, I was able to find almost all of the books through open source sites, affordable Kindle editions, or through our local library. I was unable to find one book through free sources and ended up purchasing it for around $10.
I have been using the Yr1 curriculum with my first grader. So far, my first grader and I have really enjoyed all of the recommended books. Rather than reading through the recommended books during school time, we use them as part of our bedtime story routine. I find the recommended books provide an excellent foundation of exposure to history and literature.
The Ambleside curriculum plans only include specific plans for literature, history, geography, and natural science. If you use Ambleside, you would still need to find and purchase a curriculum to teach reading, writing, and mathematics.
This a completely free homeschooling curriculum source. All of the materials used and linked are also from free sources. Everything you need is available online. The content covered includes reading, writing, other language arts, math, history, science, and more. Curriculum and daily lesson plans are available for pre-school all of the way through high school.
The biggest benefit is that this curriculum is completely free. This may help parents get started with their children when affording materials matters. I started using the preschool version of materials when I was searching for curriculum for one of my toddlers who was begging for school work. Although I didn’t follow the posted schedule of lessons, I was able to use most of the materials in combination with a few other sources to fit her desire to do school work like some of her older siblings.
I have only used the pre-school level materials for one of my children, so I cannot really assess the full range of levels available. It seems like the content is comprehensive; however, if using this as an exclusive homeschooling curriculum source, I would recommend carefully monitoring a child’s progress to make sure they are meeting or exceeding expected grade level standards. Early reading and math skills provide a critical foundation for later learning and a child may need another curriculum to make sufficient progress.
CLICK HERE to read about how to monitor a child’s reading progress through running records.
CLICK HERE to read about how to select a math curriculum.
The Good and the Beautiful curriculum has both paid and free options. Their language arts curriculum for grades 1-5 is available for free as a download. Printed copies can also be purchased. This curriculum is Christian-based, but purposefully non-denominational.
This is an open-and-go type of curriculum. Minimal preparation is required. The Language Arts and Literature Curriculum integrates reading, writing, literature, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and geography into the lessons. The curriculum provides a phonics-based reading program, but also works on high frequency site words. Older grade work (like the 4th grade lessons) include reading assignments within the lesson. Lessons are at a reasonable length and pace for each grade level and grade level content is thoroughly covered.
I have used the preschool, Kindergarten curriculums (not free, but relatively affordable compared to other reading curricula options), 2nd grade, and 4th grade language arts programs. The approach to reading and phonics seem similar to procedures I have seen used in public schools. This may work for a lot of children, but may not be the best choice for children who struggle in learning to read.
The Christian (non-denominational) format may appeal to some families or may deter some families from using this curriculum.
The Khan Academy is completely free. They have math from Kindergarten through high school level. A variety of other science, history, and computing content is also available. These additional courses would probably be most appropriate for teens and adults.
If a child needs extra review with a particular math area, Khan Academy provides math content split by grade level and concepts. Khan academy may be a good fit for children who like learning online through video and other computer-based formats.
Based on the online and video format of lessons, Khan Academy may not be a good fit for some children. A child would need to be able to have a sufficient attention span to watch the linked videos and suffice computer skills to complete the practice tasks. This may be difficult for some kindergarteners or children with other learning needs. If using Khan academy as a main math curriculum source, I would also recommend making sure that the skills generalize to real world situations and paper/written math tasks. In addition, I would also watch to ensure that a child is getting sufficient varied practice and review to ensure content mastery.
I recently came across DiscoveryK12 as a free homeschool curriculum. I have not used and do not plan on using this site and, thus, cannot provide feedback on its quality. However, after browsing through the DiscoveryK12 website, it appears that student accounts and access to their content are free. If a parent wants to access as a teacher, then a subscription can be purchased.
Conclusion on Free Homeschool Curriculum
The free homeschool curriculum sources reviewed in this article may be a good fit for many families. I have enjoyed using the Ambleside recommended sources for supplementary literature, history, and natural science exposure and expect that I will continue to use it as a supplementary curriculum source. Any of these free curriculum sources could be tried by themselves or in combination to provide a child with a comprehensive education at an affordable price. For example, the Good and the Beautiful could be used for language arts, the Khan Academy for math, and Ambleside for literature, history, and science. If you want an all-in-one, Easy Peasy may be a good fit for your family.
CLICK HERE for free leveled readers for reading fluency practice.