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Free Homeschool Curriculum



This article reviews the pros and cons of using a free homeschool curriculum, resources to help you find the best free homeschool curriculum, things to consider when choosing a free homeschool curriculum, and more...

Yes, it’s free: but is it any good? This article will help you to make discerning choices about homeschool curriculum that you don’t have to pay for.

Introduction

Curriculum can mean an entire course of study (like a curriculum framework) or materials that are used in teaching that course of study. This article treats both.

Value Judgments

There are two different value judgments that it is important to make about any homeschool curriculum, free or not:

1) Is it of any value, period?

2) Is it of any value to you?

A free homeschool curriculum could be valuable, but:

  • not appropriate for your child. This could be because your child has a special need (whether a disability or a gift), or a learning style that the curriculum doesn’t do much to acknowledge. It could also be because it’s not at an appropriate level for your child, or because it goes about fulfilling standards in ways that don’t interest your child (whereas another curriculum could both fulfill those standards and interest your child.
  • not appropriate for you. There are free homeschool curricula that are integrated with faith and belief systems, and if it’s not a system that you espouse, then you may not be comfortable using it in your teaching. Likewise, if it is a secular program and your purposes in homeschooling include integrating your faith or belief system, you may not find a free homeschool curriculum that does not do so to be of much use.
  • not appropriate for your state’s mandates. Free homeschool curriculum could fail to meet so many of your state’s requirements that it would be an enormous amount of work to make a match. In this case, you might want to look elsewhere.

But beyond that, there is no guarantee with freely offered products that they are of educational value, pedagogically sound, or appropriate for educating. There is no guarantee that they have been through any quality assurance, such as most published and charged-for curricula have in going through the editorial process. They may be:

  • biased
  • factually inaccurate
  • have incorrect answers
  • have no answers
  • be poorly sequenced
  • have inappropriate pedagogy
  • not teach the material that is currently deemed appropriate for the subject area
  • include views that you prefer not to expose your child to

On the other hand, they may be perfectly wonderful materials provided by a generous person or group who is willing to share the fruits of much labor without remuneration in order to make the world a better place. But until you check every aspect of every bit of them, you won’t know exactly what you’ve got.

There’s Free Homeschool Curriculum, and Then There’s Free Homeschool Curriculum

In The Berenstein Bears The Big Honey Hunt, Papa Bear opines that finding honey depends on knowing where to look. That’s true of finding free homeschool curriculum that will be of value to you.

  1. Look on your state’s education department site. If your state puts it out, it’s pretty much guaranteed to match your state’s curriculum. Find your state’s education department site here: nces.ed.gov and look for “Curriculum Frameworks.”s
  2. Look on the United State Department of Education website. If the US government puts it out, it should fit with the national understanding of a good education, and if it’s free curriculum, in your hands, it will become free homeschool curriculum. Find it at Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, here: free.ed.gov
  3. Look on the websites of the national teacher association for each subject area. if the National association - which puts out the national standards for that subject area - puts it out, it should fit with the national understanding of how to teach that subject.
  • Art: The Kennedy Center: ArtsEdge: Lessons -artsedge.kennedy-center.org
  • History: National Center for History in the Schools: US Teaching Units: nchs.ucla.edu
  • World Teaching Units: nchs.ucla.edu
  • Math: National Council of Teachers of Math: Lessons and Resources: nctm.org
  • Science: National Science Teachers Association: Science Teachers’ Grab Bag (you can filter by cost and pick “free”): nsta.org
  • English: National Council of Teachers of English: Lessons - readwritethink.org
  • Web Resources: readwritethink.org
  • Social Studies: National Council of the Social Studies: Classroom Resources: socialstudies.org
  • Foreign Language: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: Downloads - actfl.org

In addition, you may wish to see the separate articles about each of these subject areas.