I am so ready for fall. It has been a blazing hot summer and some crisp cool air and a chai tea latte sounds just about right.
Even though we generally homeschool all year round, August/ September is when my kiddos transition into new levels. I have a preschooler, a kindergartener, a first grader and a 3rd grader this year!
So here are my curriculum picks for this year. Of course, when I pick curriculum, price and simplicity are huge factors for me. This year I am utilizing many free resources and I have made sure to include the links to them for you.
As most of you already know, we love the Robinson Curriculum so that is the main structure of our school days. If you want to learn more about RC, I have two articles here and here for you to read. RC itself is mostly a book list that contains very rich literature and vocabulary for grades K-12! I bought my RC CD-ROMs last year used on ebay for $30!
My 3rd grader
- Literature- She will be continuing RC book list as well as a few other classics like Little Women, Wizard of Oz, Sarah Plain and Tall and a few others. She will also continue to learn the RC vocabulary by flashcards, copy work, and the free version of Quizlet. Most of these books I have been able to borrow from the library and a few I have been able to purchase at garage sales and used book stores for about $5 total.
- Spelling- I like to take more of a Charlotte Mason approach to spelling. Copy work and dictation just makes sense to me. This year I am using Dictation Day by Day 3rd year (FREE). My daughter copies two or three sentences each day for four days and studies the short list of Review words and then I dictated them to her. We have a quiz once a week where I randomly give her a few of the sentences and the review words. Easy peasy!
- Math- According to RC, a child is to memorize all math facts using flashcards before starting Saxon 5/4. However, I personally like having the structure of a math lesson everyday. I have chosen Rod and Staff 3rd grade Arithmetic for her. I feel like it complements RC very well since she can do it on her own without my help and it is very very very math fact heavy. I also have her practice math facts in various ways.
- Grammar/ Writing- I was originally going to just do Rod and Staff for grammar this year but I am wanting something a little less intense. So, I have chosen to take advantage of two FREE resources- Gentle Grammar and a 3rd grade grammar workbook from Plain & Not so Plain. I also am going to continue to use copy work to ease into writing.
- History/ Geography/ Science- I have a no frills approach. I have too many kids to have individual curriculum for every subject so I when I found out about Read Yourself an Education, I had to try it! Created by another homeschool mom of 10! The whole curriculum isn’t fully developed yet but the author is giving away the first semester for free! RYAE utilizes the library as the framework for homeschool material. Organized as a unit study, this curriculum covers geography, history, science and literature by topic and gives you titles, authors and even the duodecimal system numbers so to make your trip to the library very convenient. How to use it? Just read the books to your kids! Or have the older ones read to the younger ones. That’s it! Since it is organized as unit studies, the author recommends looking on Pinterest for craft/ project ideas if that’s your thang!
My 1st grader
- Reading/Phonics/Spelling- I love the McGuffey readers but with my second daughter, it was progressing too fast for her. I will continue to use McGuffey Primer along with Abeka readers I was given by a friend. I am also using this FREE CVC worksheet I created to practice letter sounds and spelling. I just pull CVC words from her readers to practice every week.
- Math- I LOVE Rod & Staff first grade math! I feel like it is perfect for those kiddos who need lots of repetition and practice. It starts with learning how to write numbers which for my oldest daughter, I would not have liked but for my daughter with Dyspraxia, it’s perfect! I bought the teacher manual used on ebay for $4 and the two workbooks cost me about $22 after shipping.
I am also having my first grader do the all inclusive first grade workbook form Plain and Not so Plain. It covers the 3R’s and if we do nothing else, I know she will get a little of everything if I have her complete a couple pages. If you are wanting something super simple, I suggest starting with this free resource and then just reading lots of books to your 1st grader. It also covers phonics so there is really no need for a separate reading program.
I consider Kindergarten just an extension of preschool. My oldest daughter and youngest son was/is ready for the whole shebang at age 3. For my 2nd and 3rd…not so much. It just goes to show that every child is different. So both my kindergardener and preschooler are doing the same work this year. I am always creating new material especially for this age on Hand Me Down Homeschool so keep checking in for new stuff! If you want to know what all I do for pre-k & K, read my practical guide to homeschooling Kindergartners.
Homeschool Co-op & Field Trips
Besides all this, we do attend a homeschool co-op on Tuesdays. It is a DIY group where all the moms teach or help in some way, keeping costs down to a bare minimum but the structured, classroom experience possible. (A how to start a homeschool group will be posted at a later date.) My kiddos are introduced to various subjects and have a chance to exercise their skills in a social setting. It is a great blessing! If you are not part of a homeschool group, I highly recommend you get involved. Even if it is just a field trip group, making new friends and allowing not only kids but moms to socialize is a must! Total cost $25 per semester plus $80 for materials (mostly from DollarTree) for my lessons.
**As you can see, most of my picks this year were hand-me-downs or free with the exception of the R&S math. I do have an awesome printer that uses very little ink, a laminator and a comb binding machine. I feel like these three gadgets have revolutionized my homeschool experience and total cost. Great investments!!
When most people think about their homeschool budget, they think of only curriculum cost. But be aware my friends, homeschool can get very pricey if you don’t watch it. I like to budget a set amount for homeschool every month since homeschool costs don’t usually happen all at once. I suggest calculating your total cost per year though to really see what you are spending! Here is a breakdown for my homeschool budget this year…
- Ink and printer paper- $100 per year
- Books and resources- $0-$20 per month ( Most months I don’t buy any new books or anything but I do occasionally purchase used books or worksheets from TPT.) $50 total
- Art material-$30-$50 max (markers, crayons, pencils, tape etc..)
- Curriculum- $9 (for my daughter’s EasyPeay workbook that just didn’t work for her) plus $28 for R&S Grade 1 math- $37 total
- Homeschool group tuition- $25 per semester-$50 total
- Homeschool group/ teacher materials-$5-$10 per month- $80 max. (2 semesters)
- Umbrella school- (required to stay legal here in TN) $100
- Field Trips- We have a Family Fun budget. So if the field trip goes beyond that, we don’t attend. However, to be completely transparent, we have purchased a few different yearly passes to local museums and aquariums ($240 total) now that we are debt free. But, we don’t always use our $40 either so this expense is very hard to calculate- $480 per year max. but about $100 is actually for field trips. We attend all the free trips we can find!
My Total Maximum Yearly Homeschool Expenses: $567
How much do you ACTUALLY spend on homeschool every year?
I challenge you to calculate it and share!