Welcome back to our Back to School Survival Series! We are thrilled you are here.
Have you ever considered homeschooling without buying curriculum? I’ve been homeschooling for 6 years, and never once have I purchased a curriculum. Let me tell you how!
I don’t have anything against purchased curriculum, I’ve just never done it. Why? First and foremost, when I was starting out I had No Idea buying a curriculum was even a thing. So I planned our first year and it went swimmingly. After that, I kept reading on homeschool blogs and social media about people who had purchased a curriculum only to find it didn’t fit their family, so they were diligently searching for a new one. Sounded like more money than I had to spend.
But my main reason? I love planning our school year myself. I love doing the research, finding and/or making up worksheets and notebooking pages and projects, seeking books to help us along… all of it. And I really don’t think it’s any harder than searching through several curriculum sites trying to pick something someone else put together. It’s just a different kind of research.
Did you get your Back to Homeschool checklist?
You can do it, too. It’s not even very difficult, let me show you!
The supplies you’ll need to homeschool without buying curriculum
Maybe the most important thing is a printer, so invest in a good one. A couple of years ago, I bought a laser printer. It doesn’t print in color, but it’s cheaper to replace the drum and toner 1-2 times a year than to buy ink every month. Like way cheaper. Waaaay cheaper.
You’re also going to need a notebook, internet access, a good flash drive or other saving device, access to a library and your own collection of books, and a planner. I use a spiral notebook for taking notes and writing down ideas, and I save all the good stuff I find on the interweb to a flash drive that is solely for school. I use books more than anything, though, so if you don’t have a good collection at home, make sure your library card is up-to-date. Planners can be found for free all over the interweb, so find a good one, print it out, and put it in a binder.
So what do you do after getting these basic supplies?
Click next to find out!
The best way to get started is to dive in. So make a list of the things you want your littles to learn for the year by subject. Reading, math, and writing should come first. You can find math books and workbooks for cheap on Amazon, and reading material is free at the library. For writing, we do copywork or journal. For deeper lessons, there are tons of free lessons for both fiction and nonfiction writing on the interweb. If you Google ‘research paper lesson’ you will surely find something that will work. Usually for free. Win!
Next think about which historical period or periods you want to cover, what kind of science you want to explore, and any electives that might be interesting–geography, art, language, music, etc. List as many things as you want–you can always cross them out later.
Once you have your list whittled down to a doable school year, start your research. I always start with books. Say I’m wanting to teach about Colonial America. I start by finding a book (sometimes even a history textbook I picked up at a yard sale), and I take notes. Almost like doing a research paper. I use those notes to find further books and websites about the things I really want to teach, then I either find free printables for the subject or make up some printables of my own. I also look around for some good living books to supplement the lesson.
Because reading is the most important thing in our homeschool, I make a list of novels to read aloud with the littles throughout the year. Sometimes these have to do with our other lessons, and sometimes they are completely separate. Either way, it’s the most important list I make.
See, so far it isn’t overwhelming or super expensive. Right?
But what do you do now that you have some lessons ready? Click next to get that tip!
Pulling it together
You might end up with more than you need, especially if you save every printable you find on your topic. That’s okay. I do it every time. That’s where scheduling comes in. Get a good weekly planner. Start out with Day 1 and fill out what you think you’ll do for that day. Take it one day at a time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll over-schedule because everything looks so exciting. Also okay. You can either whittle the schedule down later or take things out as you go through the school year, once you’ve seen how long the topic holds your littles’ attention and how much they’re happy to do each day.
So I start with planning out exactly which days we will be schooling. In the first pic up there, you can see an example of what our year looks like. Then I fill out a weekly planner, like in the second pic. Sometimes we study every subject every day and sometimes we tackle a subject only 1 or 2 days a week. It changes year to year, so a weekly planner is always my first step. Then I fill out a detailed Daily Curriculum sheet for each day. I include what we’ll read, what paperwork and projects we’ll do, any computer time we may need, and interesting things to discuss. Finally I fill out a Weekly Project Planner that helps keep me prepared and has a list of supplies I can glance at to see if I need to buy anything. (All of those forms are available for free at Lit Mama Homeschool.)
Schedules are set, essentials are purchased, there has to be more to this right?
Click more to find out exactly what you may have missed…
That’s really all there is to it
All that’s left to do is make sure everything is in place for the first day of school.
Do you Have To plan this much? Nah, not really. I’m well aware I’m obsessed with being meticulously planned, but that’s just me. You could get by with just filling out your weekly planner as long as you’ll be able to decipher it later. Sometimes I leave notes on mine that make me think WTH?!! around about the 3rd week of school, so my Daily Curriculum sheet comes to the rescue.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a curriculum if you just don’t have the time to invest in doing it my way, but it’s really easier than you’d think to set up an entire school year nearly for free. And if you decide it’s not working for you? Well, you’re not really out a whole lot of money. You can either chuck what’s not working or find something new to replace it. As long as you have books at hand, the interweb, and a library nearby, you have ways to teach your littles anything they need to know.
You probably already do a lot of this to supplement a purchased curriculum. Why not try doing it all? It’s fun, and no one knows your kids and what will interest them better than you do.
If you need a little help, here are some books and websites that will come in handy:
- E.D Hirsch’s What Your ____Grader Needs to Know series of books
- The Old Schoolhouse
This post is part of the Back to Homeschool Series by The Multi Taskin’ Mom. It was written by my friend KT.
Get to know KT:
KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words. Find her HERE
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