cost free homeschooling

How Pro Home Schoolers Get Curriculum Cost-FREE

Have you been pricing home schooling, lately?

I sure have!

I see that as the provider companies’ costs go up, ours must, too.

Yet, I know there still is a way, so pay attention!

Having begun presenting informative slide shows to parents who are thinking about home schooling, I know the subject of cost always comes up, so I figure I should bring it up myself, instead of making someone ask.

The cost!

The least expensive actual curriculum I’ve found isn’t bad—around $225 or so per child, per year, which is not even $2.00 per school day.

The big thing that hits some home schooling families hard is having a large family. At $225 per child, six children’s curriculum could end up costing over $1000! Per year!

How can I say there could be a way that “pros” provide their children with curriculum, cost-free?

Not too hard, actually.

It depends on the type of curriculum you choose

You see, all curriculum provider companies are NOT equal!

Ruling out those who now claim to be agreeable to the Common Core (Those will cost you LOTS more than just money!) there are several ways to eliminate or greatly, GREATLY reduce your curriculum costs. This is something you may only realize after you’ve been in the business awhile and looked around with more seasoned eyes.

And noticed a secret thing or two. Heh heh.

And spent a lot of money you didn’t need to.

The “fee” for “free” adds up

Not all curriculum types are created equal. Did I mention that?

Before we go on, we should discuss some of the tricks you can find “out there”.

First, there is a deep flood of stuff that claims to be curriculum, provided on the Internet, free for the swiping. That’s great. If it’s what you really want, it’s great.

However, most of it is:

  1. Aimed at preschool age or slightly above
  2. Not designed by educational professionals
  3. Common  Core affiliated, linking you to government watchdogs
  4. Not connected to any overall scope and sequence.

This means you could start a young child easily enough, if you know exactly what you are doing and have time and training to triage it and design a course content, yourself.


Then you’ll be happy to know the other objection to the free things is that they must all be printed.

By you.

Which means you need a printer, paper, and INK!

If you want to provide your child with, say, ten pages per day of seatwork (after designing and finding everything you need) then you are looking at 1800 pages of printing, since there are 180 school days in a school year.

Printing 1800 pages per child per year can REALLY mount up if you should possibly be able to find all you need for all six of your children (if you have a large family) which would be 10, 800 pages per year.

But that’s just for one year. If you were still not convinced and you were to continue with this plan the rest of their school years, you would potentially have printed 129,600 pages.

No doubt, you would have bought that many pieces of paper, too, and, no doubt, a new printer, sometime along the line…

And large three-ring binders. And gummed reinforcements.

Announcing the solution!

Go back to the $225 company.

Find $225. Pay up. Wait for delivery. Notice the books are hard-bound and very well-constructed. Use the books. Never need to print anything. Realize it all fits neatly on a small bookshelf.

Repeat next year for the next grade.

Wait—how is that free?

The freedom of this way adds up, just as the cost of the “free” way does.

You see, you’ll be passing these $225-books down to your next children.

At no cost.

If you have six children, spaced at every 2 years, you would have to spend about $1300, two years in a row. (This is just an example; No pressured intended!)

After that, you would spend nothing.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

The breakdown:

By the end of home schooling 6 children for 12 years apiece, your cost for ALL SIX children would still be that same $2600, but by then it would be divided by 12,960 total school days, or:

Are you ready for this?

Twenty cents per day per child. That’s all. Merely 20 cents.

Still not free, you say?

Well, I’m still not done.

But I am done home schooling, and I found a way to recoup lots of even the 20 cents. Hold on to your seat belt, here…

When you buy great, well-made curriculum, you can always find a market for it online.

YES! You can sell those used books to someone else, who needs “free” even more than you do.

Of course, the shape they are in will determine how much they will be worth, but if you teach your children how to make book jackets, and require them to do so, the books will be clean and mostly un-worn in appearance, making them fetch more than most used books. You will be surprised.

And that, my friends, is how we did it. 😀

woman, sleeping, tired, lazy, depressed

A Week of Answers – Why Am I So Tired?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a mother of three, ages five to ten, and asks a very good question. Enjoy!

Taking a break on Bond

Taking a break on Bond (Photo credit: pamhule)

Dear Katharine,

I’m so tired and cannot even say why. I can remember when I used to do so much more and now I hardly can get out of bed. It’s odd because I’m not so tired in the middle of the night. Anyway, I just wonder if there’s some trick to being all the things a home school mom needs to be, and keeping at it. I mean, am I forgetting something?  –Shelly

Dear Shelly,

Maybe you are overlooking something. It is easy for us to become caught up in the bustle and not realize we are adopting different habits. Let’s honestly look at your life a moment and ask a few questions, okay?

  1. Do you read your Bible, daily, and pray? I always slip away from good attitudes when I slip away from the Author of all goodness. We cannot expect to succeed if we break the rules about keeping in contact with the Lord. Are you forgetting to rejoice in the Lord? It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
  2. Do you ever get a break? Nearly everyone else gets breaks, you know. People take vacations from their jobs all the time and return very refreshed.
    Of course, you cannot just abandon your children and husband for a week, but you can abandon the thoughts and cares for a few minutes and take little imaginary mini-vacations while you read or bathe.
    By the way, are you doing too many things? Do we really need to provide dance, music, art, sports, and oratory lessons for each child, for each semester and attend each meeting and field trip? Is that why we do this? Are you ever at home, as in home school? Maybe you are running yourself ragged.
  3. Do you take care of your body? When moms forget to take vitamins, take a walk, take a nap, or take time off from caffeine, they usually are tired, whether they homeschool or not. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should be good stewards of it.

There you have it–questions that cover all three aspects of the whole of a person: spirit, soul, and body. You should now realize a few changes you need to make. 🙂

If all the above does not apply, I would like to ask you if you might be either ill or depressed.

Sometimes illness can masquerade as tiredness and sometimes depression can hit us from the side very unexplainably. If your tiredness does not fall into any of the three categories above, you may need help from a professional.

I am a professional mom, but I may not be the professional that you need. You may need a doctor or a good, Christian, pastoral counselor. If you think that may be the case, I pray you not delay–you owe it to your children.

Love, Katharine

Schooling, study, trying1

Do NOT Try Homeschooling.

I often get asked about the one piece of advice I would give to all home schoolers. Probably folks want some type of motto that fits all situations and clears the air about many problems. I have thought and thought about this, and—for now, anyway—I think the best I can do is to say: “DO NOT TRY HOME SCHOOLING.”

Surely, you think, this advice does not belong on a blogsite dedicated to the advancement of the home school experience. However, it is enlightening to look at what happens when we try home schooling.

First, a definition.

“Try” is a worn out word. An example of good usage is in the old saying, “If you don’t at once succeed, try, try, again.” We can learn a lot from this adage. For instance, we can learn that the purpose of trying is succeeding.


How many folks say they have tried the idea of home schooling, when actually, they only dropped the H-bomb at the dinner table and met with opposition from some child who is badly in need of it? Or maybe they bought an inane, dime-store book or two, and someone worked the first few pages and became disenchanted. Who wouldn’t.

Encountering resistance is not the same as trying.

Pressing against the resistance, with the determination to overcome it, is what trying really is. If a child balks, a relative whines, or a neighbor threatens, what makes us think it’s suddenly time to stop? We must see that type of trying is really just letting those around us dictate our convictions to us. If we are not trying to succeed, we have missed the whole idea.

The goal is not to try; the goal is to succeed.

Once I realized that, I could think of several great sayings that belong to real success in home schooling. Check here for more about goals!

colored glasses can improve reading

Trouble-Shooting Reading Skills

Ever wonder if your child is learning disabled?

Or not?

Ever wonder if the person who diagnosed a neighbor’s child was actually qualified or certified or licensed to make such a diagnosis?

Or even cared?

Do you wonder if the difficulties your child is having are because of your teaching?

Or if you are imagining things?

The Real Need.

Only a little fine-tuning, applied to your teaching, can let you know what is going on. You can actually know. And this type of teaching is do-able only in a one-on-one teaching environment, such as a home school. Your baby is in the right place

How can you tell if your child is misdiagnosed as learning-disabled?

Of course, since I also am not a licensed learning pathologist, either, I also cannot make, nor change, a diagnosis.

However, as a mom who has taught all sorts of children for over thirty years, certified or not, licensed or not, I have learned a few facts the hard way. You can learn how to help your child, with the tricks I have picked up along the way.

And I’m eager to share with you.

Definitions are in order.

Too often, a tragically neglected fact is that many children cannot read well because they cannot see well. According to US Law #94192, a vision problem is not a learning disability:

Helen Keller was not learning disabled.

Helen Keller. –Wikipedia.

Helen Keller was NOT learning disabled!

If anyone in your family has close-up vision problems, it is important to have your child’s eyes checked. The “Big E” vision triage chart is not enough. When a child has trouble reading, you need an ophthalmologist. The nurse in your pediatrics clinic just will not do. Neither will the optometrist who measured and made your glasses. Only an ophthalmologist is an M.D., is what you need.

DO NOT assume that the non-professional learning gurus in your life have examined this essential matter. (Do not even assume this simple assumption with professionals.)

Many professionals have an attitude these days that goes something like: “That is outside of my area of expertise,” which translates: “That is not my problem.”

Surely you are aware that asking your child to read if he cannot see is asking him to do something that is physically impossible for him.

For a Lifetime.

We need to remember: Learning to read is a life-long process.

Pick up a book you read in your childhood and notice how much of the plot you missed. Of course, although you were well able to read back then, you now read with even better comprehension. You did not have phonics lessons all those years, yet you improved, just with practice.

The same is true of your child. No matter how skilled or unskilled you may think he is, he will improve with time, just by reading. An important choice you can make to help a child improve reading skills is to relax and let him read. Whether aloud or silently, whether solo or in concert with someone else, practice makes perfect.

Age Matters.

With a very young learner, the problem also could be in the realm of readiness.

I have a friend whose husband became ready to read when he was a senior in high school. He made straight “A’s” that year, after struggling and nearly failing every previous year.

Not all children wait that long, but many do not become ready until they reach puberty.

Others are ready at around age nine.

To overcome this problem in all its ramifications, it probably is best to read to your student while pointing to the print all the while.

Usually there will be some ability to find and recall words, via normal phonics methods. Knowing where to look for them in the book will help with independent study. Believe me, the non-reader sneaks peeks at books when you are not looking. The day comes when all the puzzle pieces will fall into place for him, and he senses this. Keep providing him with pieces.

Yes, it is a little harder for you, but because of this added difficulty, you can know that home is where your student belongs. Who else would care enough and have the time?

Speeding Reading Readiness.

Did you know you could provide exercises that speed the onset of readiness?

Much of simple childhood play does exactly that. Fun activities that require transferring big motion from side to side, repeatedly, are what you need.

Riding a bicycle or tricycle, skating, running, walking, and crawling are examples.

Also, aiming activities help, such as ball or ring throwing, or bowling.

You will find that most children enjoy most of these activities and will never guess at the reading help they gain. Please allow and encourage them to play big, often, and long, to the point of acquiring some ability.

While you are at it, make sure your child’s “handedness” is accurately defined and that he is preferring his dominant hand.

Glaring Problem.

Some children understand phonics and their eyes focus adequately but have another big problem commonly called “glare management”, or, more properly, “glare mismanagement”.

This obstacle is easy for even the novice teacher to identify because the child reads well for five to fifteen minutes, then begins to break down. This is a sign of eye tiredness, which can indicate a glare problem.

Sometimes, if he has the option, this child also will choose not to work or play on a computer, for the same reason.

To understand glare problems for yourself, try to find a magazine article printed in white on a black background. Just see how ready you are to skip the information on that page. Your tired eyes will tell you that you do not need to know anything that requires so much effort to absorb, although there is nothing wrong with your learning ability.

If your child’s eyes check out okay at the doctor’s, it may be time to experiment with the lighting, both of the room and of the paper.

When I have a child showing symptoms of glare problems, I immediately do two things:

First, I turn off all fluorescent lighting (and all screen lighting, such as a computer or TV might provide) and move the child near a bright window, but not in direct sun.
Second, I break reading lessons into fifteen-minute or even smaller portions.

If I see dramatic improvement in the attitude of the child and in reading comprehension, I know I have found the problem. After that, it may be enough just to continue with those two changes.

However, usually I will also experiment with colored acetate page covers. This is simply dark-colored “cellophane”, easily found at specialty gift-wrapping centers. Try several colors, and please make your color choice based upon the child’s preference and performance. Frame your child’s “color” in a simple cardboard frame, to make it sturdier, if you want, or you can order a set of these framed covers for a high price from educational sources.

For some children, it may be preferable to try to find “sunglasses” that have the right color in the lenses. If this works for you and your child, it is fine, as long as the lenses are not warped.

What else?

Your child may be able to focus well in any light but still have eye immaturity troubles, in that his eyes may jump around on the page. If a student does not need glasses, does not respond to light changes, totally grasps and applies phonics, but is still “just slow”, I recommend a mask.

A mask?

Yes, a mask, but NOT for the child. You may need to mask the reading material.

If it helps, you can easily make several, which you will likely prefer to do. Here’s how:

  1. Obtain a piece of white card stock, like a 3×5 note card, although bigger is better.
  2. Measure how tall and long is a line of print in your child’s reading material.
  3. With a razor, cut out a window in the middle of the card, to accommodate those dimensions.
  4. Allow your child to use this card to mask all but the line he is actually reading. See if it helps.

I have a friend whose teenage son could not “pass” the achievement test for homeschoolers, once required in our state. Although his math skills were great, the problems were in story form and his reading was too slow. Once he began using a page mask, they knew that it was what he needed during those tests. He “passed” after that, with a high score. Such a simple thing made all the difference for them.

Is There More? Yes.

One practice that I always recommend, even to moms whose children show no reading difficulties, is memory work.

I assume all of us are all memorizing Bible verses, but I like to include other works, too, such as favorite poems, famous speeches, the Preamble, etc. We take all those pieces with us all our lives and we are glad of it.

For the child who is not yet reading, though, for whatever reason, it becomes even more important, because the disciplined syntax and vocabulary of educated days-gone-by can become like a backbone for his verbal experience. If he cannot read zillions of great books, or, maybe even the Bible, he needs this cultural input.

A Few More Hope-Giving Words About the Bible:

More than one preacher grew up unable to read, and yet, God-called to preach. Once each of them faced God, in faith for the ability, God miraculously supplied his need to read the Bible. Incidentally, more than one of these men was unable to read any other books. God could do this miracle again, but it would not happen in the life of the child who already could read, would it? While you must keep trying, please do not ever give up hoping, either.

Stop False Assumptions.

Do not assume that your child is learning disabled based upon mere statements from past “teachers”.

If your child schools in your home, God has given him a new teacher, one who knows him better than anyone else ever could.

Make doubly sure that he is receiving what he truly needs, based on correct assessments.

You can take the simple steps above to re-evaluate and make corrections as needed.

Whatever God has for your child will be His best.

Pass it on!

It Does, Truly, Only Take a Spark

only a spark

Only a Spark

It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in its glowing

So goes a lovely old song from the 60’s, (called to our attention by Debby) when everyone thought of turning to Jesus Christ for help with the draft, drugs, disappointments, discouragement, disillusionment, and all other general “dissed” problems during the VietNam era.

A few were serious about the “Jesus Movement”. A few were appalled that so many who claimed Christ were not wearing shoes. Oh NO! How uncouth! Surely there is a place in the Bible that requires wearing shoes! Oh, you mean it speaks more of taking them off?! Oh NO!

Some were serious, though,  seriously messed up, seriously failing, seriously in need of something beyond shoes, something beyond rules, something beyond platitudes, something beyond this life, something beyond their own understanding, something beyond their own strength or ability.

Not much has changed.

Many refuse to turn to Jesus Christ because they fear appearing weak.

They are weak. All people are weak.

But they want to be among those who project an image of strength, of not being needy. It’s a strained, do-by-self image that almost everyone can see through, but they keep it up for the few they’ve duped.

Although He is the most beautiful, priceless, glorious discovery anyone can discover, they refuse to lay self down, to lose face.

To their loss.

How ironic to fear loss and in the process to lose the most valuable thing, like a monkey with his hand in a monkey trap, unable to run from poachers because there is something that glitters in that empty coconut . . .


Let me tell you about a one-spark fire. (And while we’re at it, you might like to read James 3:1-12)

My husband can build a one-spark fire. He’s an expert. He built one before we left for a four-day trip, so when we arrived back home, it took just one spark to get that fire going . . .  and he hopes to build another tonight, and he probably will, to transfer our fire from the romantic fireplace to the more efficient stove.

This is how he does it:

  1. Clear out lots of the ash so air can circulate under the grill work in the fireplace.
  2. Loosely crumble newspaper over that.
  3. Add “rich pine”, a sort of hyper-torch type wood found at the base of dead pine trees.
  4. Add several pieces of small limbs.
  5. Add some smaller, round logs.
  6. Loosely crumble just a page or two of newspaper for over all that.

This combo, done as only he truly can do it (I know the process, but he owns it) will ignite with only one match. Guaranteed.

Now, think of yourself.

You are supposed to be a one-spark set of fuel for the spark of the Holy Spirit to ignite you and cause you to shine and warm others for God. What is missing from your stack? Has your past stolen parts of you? I know how that can be.

BUT — All “Do-By-Self’ers” BEWARE! — Spontaneous Generation was disproven, centuries ago.