This week, we kicked off our 16th year of homeschooling. Over those 16 years, I can definitely tell you a story or two about what we right and what we did wrong. It’s been a journey.
Homeschool for Free
Five kids with very different personalities and learning styles makes for some kind of adventure. We started homeschooling at a time when it wasn’t exactly a popular education choice, plus we didn’t have the internet resources we do now.
I had to use curriculum I heard others mention in passing. You know the ones, the big box sets that everyone seemed to use—and, honestly, were quite expensive for us. I had just made the choice to stay home to school the kids, so we were down an income.
But, I wanted to give my kids the best education I could, so I went by what others said worked.
Only it didn’t work. Not for us. Our son, Wyatt, was a very tactile learner, therefore all of the reading was simply too much for him. He needed a more hands-on approach in order to soak it all in. Math became an extremely stressful subject for us and there were tears every day.
Cheyenne had no problem with the reading, but other aspects of the curriculum didn’t work for her. But, she felt as though she wanted to learn more than what was in the books.
This is when I started researching learning styles and tried to match our curriculum with each child’s natural learning tendency. Plus, I asked them what they wanted to learn. They helped me put together the curriculum for the year.
When we started doing this, everything changed. We had far less tears—and the ones that fell were over not wanting to work at all—and the kids were learning. In fact, they would get excited about their schoolwork!
Jump ahead several years to where we stopped purchasing boxed sets of curriculum. We chose a more eclectic collection of resources and began to lean more towards an unschooling approach. Unschooling advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.
When Cheyenne graduated (at the age of 16) she tested very well in her college entrance exams. As a matter of fact, she graduated this past May, Summa Cum Laude, with her Bachelors and is now pursuing her Masters (while married and pregnant). So, I guess we didn’t do too bad.
So how do we homeschool for free?
That’s the real reason you’re here, right? Let’s talk about the free homeschool curriculum we use: Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.
The individual courses include 180 days of homeschool lessons and assignments. It covers reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, math, history/social studies/geography, science, Spanish, Bible, computer, music, art, PE/health, and logic. It uses only free materials found on the internet.
It is a Christian curriculum, but I have seen it used by secular homeschoolers as well. You can easily customize it as needed. And, it covers grades from preschool to 12th grade.
Once we decide on which classes we want each of the girls to take, Colby and I begin loading the classes into Google Classroom.
Classroom is a free service that makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized.
As teachers, we are able to add each course to the Classroom, break each day down using topic headings and then add assignments under each topic. We can then set a due date for each assignment and invite the girls (via Gmail) to the courses they need to complete.
Additionally, each course has its own Class Drive Folder. Within the Google Drive folder, we can upload worksheets, charts, printables, etc. that they will need for each assignment.
Plus, each assignment assigned a due date will then appear on using Google Calendar. Not only can the girls look at the calendar to see what they have to do each day, but Colby and I can look to see what assignments have been completed.
Now, to check on what they’ve learned through the week, we can easily put together a summary quiz using Google Forms. This is a new addition this year for our homeschool classroom and is a great check-and-balance system for all of us!
Bigger questions that may require looking at each other but not a trip up/downstairs? Google Hangouts.
Essays? Google Docs. Grading rubics? Google Sheets. A new book for an assignment? Google Books. Instructional videos? YouTube. Historical movie? Google Play. Find a country? Google Maps. Need to explore a location? Google Earth.
Which Google resource is your favorite homeschool tool?
Google has an incredible, full-suite of resources to use for your homeschool classroom. The world is literally at your fingertips when it comes to bringing learning into your home.
BONUS! If you’re looking for a free foreign language resource, DuoLingo for Schools integrates with Google Classroom and it free to use! Plus, it’s one of the best learning tools for learning a new language!