As a single parent, money is often tight. Child support, for me, is nonexistent, and many can’t count on it, even if they get it sometimes. Spending an arm and a leg on curriculum, websites, or materials isn’t always an option. Sometimes we need something free, or we need a free option to at least test it out.
I thought I’d share a few of the freebies I use, both for myself and my kids.
- OpenOffice: OpenOffice is, essentially, a free Microsoft Office. It’s put out by Apache Software, and it’s completely free to download, install, and use. It’s an entire suite: word processing, spreadsheet, drawing and more. It has multiple options for saving, and opening, files – which means you can open Word documents, and save your own as Word documents that people with Word can open. This is great to allow you to utilize those programs without paying the (expensive!) price of buying Microsoft Office.
- Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a great resource for so many subjects. It has math, history, art, and even some computer stuff! There are videos that help explain various concepts, and in math, it also has problems that can be solved to help reinforce what is learned in the videos. It can be used, depending on your needs, as a full curriculum in a subject, or simply as a supplement. Set yourself up as a coach, and add your kids to a classroom, and you can also keep track of the time they spend on the site, what they worked on, and whether they watched videos (and which ones they watched!) or solved problems (if it’s a subject like math). It shows what skills they’ve mastered, which ones they’re struggling with, and which ones they have left to even start learning. It can be so helpful, and it’s really very easy to use.
- Coursera: Coursera offers free, open courses from a variety of colleges and universities. Each class has the free option, if you’re just looking to brush up on something or to learn it just for fun, as well as a paid option to get a certificate if you need proof. There’s a ton of options available on Coursera, from photography to journalism to advanced maths, and lots of fun ones, too. For younger children, it may be a bit too advanced for them, as these are college-level courses, but if your kids are in middle or high school and have a great interest in something, these courses might be right up their alley.
- The library: Your local library is always going to be a great free option to help with homeschooling. Chances are that you’ll always be able to find a book that will cover anything you want to cover. Librarians are always able to offer advice on books, websites, and more that can help you. But many also offer much more than books. They have computers you can use, and printes, too. Our local library system offers a ton of programs, too. There are programs for families, teens, children, and seniors. They offer movies, activities, lectures and classes. Check with your library and if they offer things like that, find out when the schedule comes out so you can find those things you want to do and put them on your own schedule so you don’t forget.
- Local businesses: Check with local businesses and agencies. There are plenty that will offer tours, and more, of their facilities and what they do. Fire stations are a great one for smaller kids. Sometimes, police departments and jails will offer tours, depending on the age of the children. Pizza places and other restaurants will sometimes give a tour of the kitchens, and explain the training involved to work for them. These things may not seem like they have a ton of educational value in terms of teaching math, history, or science, but what they do provide is real information. They give your child a chance to see the inside of something they may not otherwise learn about (the fire station or the jail), and they also give him the chance to ask questions about how someone got to where they are. It will give them concrete facts in how to achieve their dreams: showing them that even the careers they didn’t think required training do require some education or a certain skillset; or perhaps that the person had to learn how to go about the loan process or figure out how to apply for a land use change to building their business’s location, for example.
What freebies have you found that you use in your homeschooling?