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Affordable Curricular Options for Independently Homeschooling

On multiple occasions, the question of how a family can afford to homeschool without using a state-funded program presents itself.  Why does this question come up so often?

Students enrolled in state-funded programs are participating in a non-traditional form of public school thereby making them public school students. These taxpayer-funded programs tend to perpetuate their own existence through convincing participants that their students NEED to use a variety of different, and often costly, curricula in order to be “well-educated.” Many parents become duped into thinking that they could not possibly afford to homeschool without these allotments because of the vast ways they are used: for curricula in all subjects, dual-enrollment at the University of Alaska (we all know how expensive those courses can be), music lessons, art lessons, physical education lessons and/or club memberships, internet fee reimbursement, computer leases and tablets (such as the iPad), and  accompanying “educational” software and apps just to name a few. It is no wonder that many families feel that they cannot homeschool without programs!

A lot of money is made on the homeschooling community. One must decide whether they are going to allow themselves to be commercialized and preyed upon in the context of their homeschooling. There are many great programs out there and many expensive options. It bears repeating here that the Alaska Statute that legalizes homeschooling does not put any subject requirements upon parents and children. Other states may require certain subjects but Alaska does not. This affords us the freedom to combine subjects into one class or concentrate studies in one specific area if we so choose. Does this mean our children will not be receiving a high quality education? Certainly not! The question needs asked, what is YOUR definition of quality? It has been all over the news what our public education system considers “quality.” Just look into Common Core.

I would like to list a few different options for the family with a small budget but is looking to independently homeschool. This list may also serve for anyone that has decided to homeschool but is not sure quite where to start.

    • (1)    Your Family Canon, (The Holy Bible, Torah, Book of Mormon, Quran, etc.) and a library card. Your Family Canon provides the foundation for excellent study, especially in the areas of character development and morality. The library system can be utilized to select books to accompany studies as well as provide internet access for your mobile device or at one of their designated internet stations. The best part about the local library is the prime study environment. I encourage everyone to utilize this resource as much as possible.
    • (2)    Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool – located online at http://allinonehomeschool.com/ . This program (complete with lesson plans) is 100% free utilizing online resources for a 36-week school year. The author/creator lives in Pennsylvania and this meets her state’s homeschool requirements. Be aware, the mathematics utilizes Khan Academy, which is aligned with Common Core State Standards.
    • (3)    An Old-Fashioned Education – again, located online at http://oldfashionededucation.com/, is a beautiful blend of Classical Education and Charlotte Mason methods. The “Full Curriculum” is available on the left side among the subject specific links. Be sure to visit the “About this Curriculum” on the “Full Curriculum” page. Most of the links provide access to the author/creator’s list of books and websites, with notations should the site or book require a subscription or purchase.
    • (4)    Ambleside Online – located at http://amblesideonline.org/. This curriculum is another free curriculum designed to be as close to what Charlotte Mason would have used. There are many book lists for each grade level.
    • (5)    Internet Archive and Public Domain – there are a plethora of books and information available in the realm of public domain. Everything seems to be available from basic math books to Calculus, Elementary Geography to Cartography, Grammar and Writing, the list is endless. Internet Archive is located here: https://archive.org/ .
    • (6)    Homeschool.com has a listing of free curriculum and educational resources. These are located at http://www.homeschool.com/Homeschool_Free_Curriculum/ .
    • (7)    Unit Studies – The book, Unit Studies Made Easy can be purchased used. The Amazon link is here: http://www.amazon.com/Unit-Studies-Bendt-Family-Ministries/dp/1885814135/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396377620&sr=8-1&keywords=unit+studies+made+easy Unit studies can cost as little or as much as you desire and can be easily crafted to include multiple ages and grade levels.
    • (8)    An almost complete K-12 curriculum that will require separate mathematics curriculum after arithmetic is A2.  Priced around $99, it is non-consumable and designed to accommodate several grade levels simultaneously. More information is available at http://www.accelerated-achievement.com/ .
    • (9)    The Eclectic Education Series, or EES, is a set of textbooks which from roughly 1865 to 1915 WAS education in the United States, almost exclusively.  EES covers every subject for K – 12 and costs roughly $159.00 with free updates as they become available. Customer service is exceptional and this curriculum is designed to be used by more than one grade level simultaneously. More information is available through http://www.dollarhomeschool.com/ .
    • (10)     The Robinson Curriculum is a self-teaching curriculum similar in style to A2 but without mathematics. Math curriculum must be purchased separately, although RC users have the option to buy Saxon Math at a discounted rate. This is a K-12 curriculum that focuses upon the 3 Rs while utilizing literature and writing to learn other subjects. It is priced around $195 for the main curriculum. An optional set of CDs are available that include a variety of G. A. Henty writings and that ups the total cost to $275. This curriculum easily accommodates multiple grades simultaneously. Customer service and support is exceptional. RC can be found here: http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/.
    • (11)     ACE School of Tomorrow (Accelerated Christian Education) & Lighthouse Christian Academy are complete curriculum packages per grade level and includes optional record keeping services and testing. The average cost per year per K – 8 student enrolled is $300. High school accredited curriculum is roughly $950 per student per grades 9 – 11. The ACE website is located here: http://www.aceministries.com/.
    • (12) Used vs. New curriculum – opting to purchase curriculum used will save! Many resources available today are considered “non-consumable” and can be picked up used (via the internet or used bookstores and thrift stores) for a fraction of their new cost. For anyone shopping with a budget, used materials are a blessing. Some complain that used materials often contain notes and highlights from the previous owners, but those notes and highlights can be extremely helpful! Many veteran homeschoolers are hanging onto the curriculum they used because of Common Core alignment among publishers. These homeschool parents may allow new homeschoolers to borrow their curriculum, especially if they are no longer using it. It never hurts to ask! The only dumb question is the one that is never voiced.

All of the above options are 100% legal in the state of Alaska. Even those curricula that only focus on the 3Rs are LEGAL. The need to supplement those with extra activities or subjects is PARENTAL PREFERENCE ONLY. Supplementing with other subjects is NOT REQUIRED in the state of Alaska! Even option #1 is a valid method of homeschooling here, and it is a very popular option among unschoolers and those families who follow a Leadership Education approach, A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd), and Lifestyle of Learning.

Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(12). If the child “is being educated in the child’s home by a parent or legal guardian,” the child is excepted from compulsory attendance. Under this option, there are no requirements to notify, seek approval, test, file forms, or have any teacher qualifications. The burden is on the state to prove that parents are not teaching their children.
Required Days of Instruction: None.
Required Subjects: None.
Teacher Qualifications: None.
Standardized Tests: None.

I challenge anyone that thinks that homeschooling without using public funds cannot provide a high-quality education for their children to research the ways our country’s founding fathers were educated. Many of these brilliant men in history were educated at home without the use of taxpayer funds, computers, the internet, or a collection of various subject-specific curricula. When the homeschooling movement began in our country in the 1980s, pioneer homeschooling families were able to provide a top-notch education for their children without public funds and the internet. The curricular choices of the early homeschool movement days were dismal compared to what is available to the homeschooling community today; and yet, amid the storm of criticism and suspicion, they did it. They sent their children to colleges on scholarships while they fought to allow us, the next generations of homeschoolers, the freedom to homeschool without government intrusion and oversight.


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Testing. Testing. 1…2…3

NOTE: Independent Homeschoolers in Alaska are NOT REQUIRED to administer standardized tests or high school exit exams or career skills assessments. 

There’s been a lot of talk about testing. It seems to happen every year around this time so I thought it best to approach the subject now as I have gotten several inquiries within the past few weeks about it.

North Star Independent Homeschoolers offers standardized testing for those interested. The state certified teachers in our group gladly offer their services to provide testing to children whose parents want them to test! Actual tests must be bought by participating children’s parents. The actual testing, which must be done by a state-certified school teacher, is free; our wonderful teachers donate their time for testing! Many states require standardized testing of resident homeschoolers. ALASKA DOES NOT. The standardized testing that NSIH offers are not College Board examinations. College Board owns the SAT, ACT, Accuplacer, and PSAT/NMSQT.

There are many, many tests a parent may choose to give their child or children. There’s the Iowa Test of Basic Skills Complete Battery, the Terra Nova Test, the California Achievement Test (CAT), Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS), etc. etc. Right now, many of these are not aligned to Common Core or NexGen. It is expected that nearly all newer versions will become aligned. The folks at The Educational Freedom Coalition have been very persistent in tracking down who is/isn’t aligned with the controversial Common Core. Because standardized testing is required in many states, they even have a section of their website dedicated to Tests. You can find it by clicking here. These are the types of tests that NSIH member state-certified teachers can administer. NSIH member state-certified teachers cannot administer College Board assessments. College Board has a completely different set of rules and regulations since their tests are geared for college entrance.

Most  of the College Board assessments have already aligned with Common Core. These include the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and Accuplacer. UAF administers the Accuplacer, ACT, and SAT.  Contact UAF for more information regarding how to register to take the Accuplacer. http://www.uaf.edu/  Independent Homeschoolers interested in the ACT and SAT are encouraged to sign up at the respective websites to register their child/children and pay the testing fees. The ACT website is at http://act.org/products/k-12-act-test/ and the SAT website is here: http://sat.collegeboard.org/home

Independent Homeschooling parents that would like their child/ren to take the PSAT/NMSQT examination cannot register for the exam online. The PSAT/NMSQT is administered in October and there are usually only 2 different test dates. It is advised to begin searching for a local private school or public school that administers this test beginning in August. When you have found a school, let the school know that you are interested in having your child/ren test with their students. This helps the school to know how many tests they need to order. Interior Independents have the option of calling Monroe Catholic School, who administers the test on the first October test date, or a local public high school (such as North Pole High School) who administers the test on the second October test date.

NOTE: Independent Homeschoolers in Alaska are NOT REQUIRED to administer standardized tests or high school exit exams or career skills assessments.

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A Great Homeschool Resource!

Note: NSIH is a non-affiliated group. This means that no money or material gain whatsoever is made from sharing resources, links, product information, or anything else offered, recommended, or shared on this blog/website or elsewhere with NSIH.

All information shared through this blog/website is for reader information only. It is shared because it has been or is helpful to local independent homeschoolers and may be helpful to other independent homeschoolers, as well.

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        Click here to visit a page titled “Approaches to Homeschool Education” from Cathy Duffy’s Review website that can help get you pointed in the direction you’d like to go with homeschooling or give you some ideas and information to work with to create a thriving family homeschool.

        Cathy Duffy has gained the reputation of a homeschool curriculum specialist with no equal. Her wonderful books that are created to help homeschooling parents make the best curriculum choices for each of their children have been around – and remarkably helpful – for decades! She continues to update the information she shares. She is a bright and shining gem in the United States homeschooling movement!

        Treat yourself to a few minutes of perusing the page linked to above and more on her site, if you’d like. There are oodles of curriculum reviews and suggestions on it! It is the perfect site for a parent new to homeschooling who is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available! It is also fun to learn about curriculum before purchasing it! I am sure you’ll find something to help you navigate your homeschool journey and make it the very best it can possibly be!


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