We started this school year using Time4Learning as our curriculum. I loved it and so did Meechi. I just didn't love paying twenty bucks a month for it. I needed to find a more budget friendly (which in my case meant free) way to go about homeschooling.
If you are looking for a blog post that is going to provide you with an entire school year of curriculum all planned out for you and ready to print, this is not the place to find it. They are out there, so if that's what you want it's out there somewhere. (Happy searching) I've found those posts and I've also found that they weren't very useful for us. My child is not on the same level in every subject with the child of whoever created that curriculum and posted it, very kindly, on their blog. Kids are not such unilateral learners. They have their highs and lows, their strengths and weaknesses. So, if you're like me and need something that fits the budget but is also flexible enough to meet your child at their level, then maybe my suggestions can be of some use to you.
For language arts (grammar & writing) we are using Moby Max. What I love about this site is that it will take your child through a "diagnostic" test session in the beginning to determine what level they are on. From the results it can assign lessons based on the areas the child needs help with, or has not previously covered. You can find more information about that here. The lessons are easy for my son to follow and the voice during the lessons is not too "mechanical". On the quiz sections after the lesson, the voice does go robotic. My son hates the robot voice, but he simply mutes his computer and reads the questions himself. For someone who struggles with reading, this might be an issue. We do not use social studies at all on Moby Max for that very reason. The lessons sound very mechanical and my son gets nothing out of it.
So what do we do for social studies? That varies. Right now he is doing the Passport To The World Country Study for 4H. He received a manual through 4-H that guides him through the various topics to study on his chosen country. Meechi chose Kazakhstan of course, since he was born there and wanted to learn more about his birth country. This is his big project for the year, but we have studied some other cultures by using library books, Netflix documentaries, and Youtube videos. Also, with the presidential election having taken place during this school year we were able to use that as part of our curriculum. We also used dvd's like this one, and websites like TimeKids to learn about elections. Our social studies lessons include a lot of reading, videos, and discussion. We include some notebooking or lapbooks as well, along with creative projects (like we will be doing with the 4-H project).
An area related to social studies that we include in our homeschool year is foreign language. We are working on Russian because Meechi is interested in learning a language spoken in his birth country. It is easier to find Russian lessons than it is to find Kazakh lessons, and in the long-run will be more practical to know. We use Mango Language online. Most libraries provide free access to Mango with just your library card number. The lessons are broken down into short lessons and can be retaken if material is not learned immediately or is forgotten.
We do science in the same way that we do social studies, we piece together units on the topics that are of interest to him. We include plenty of experiments. You can find awesome experiment ideas online or in library books. Science is the one area that I feel you absolutely cannot homeschool for free. Science projects are a must, and materials cost money. I am a firm believer in hands on learning, so when I can make a project cross over more than one area of study, like we did here, then I feel like we are getting more education for our money. (We also combined study of volcanoes for science with the study of Pompeii for social studies) We have also used the science lessons on Moby Max which is not robotic in the way the social studies is. It is really whatever he feels like doing when it comes to science. He loves the subject and as long as he is learning, I tend to follow his lead.
Math is so important! However, it has been a long, long time since I have had to do algebra or geometry (which I was never good at anyway), so I needed a resource that could teach Meechi with little or no help from me. We got that with Khan Academy. Now, I had heard people say they used KA in homeschool as their math curriculum many times and thought they must be crazy. How was a few videos going to equal a full curriculum? Turns out I was the crazy one, because there is so much more to KA than that. I simply hadn't explored it enough. You can learn about what they have to offer here and then check out an example of their math missions here. It's actually pretty amazing and does work as a complete curriculum. It has been awesome for us.
We also use Prodigy for math practice. Meechi struggles with math fact retention, and this site has been a wonderful, fun way for him to practice and reinforce those facts in his memory. He will play this game for hours! It works a bit like Pokemon in that kids battle and collect different creatures, but the difference is, they use math to win the battles. It's pretty genius! When kids first start playing, the game will quiz them (but it's sneaky and does this while they are playing the game) on several areas of math and determine where they are in their learning. It will then use that information to determine what math problems it gives them to solve during battles. You can also assign certain areas of math for them to work on if you want them to focus on something specific. I assign Meechi multiplication tables and division three days a week to work on fact retention. The other two days I assign him whatever topic he happens to be working on in Khan at the time.
When it comes to reading, we tend to do our own thing and not focus on any curriculum. I want Meechi to enjoy reading, so I usually let him pick the books he wants to read. Sometimes this can be awful for me because I have to read whatever he is reading so we can discuss it and I can ask questions. Some of the books he likes, don't interest me at all, but I power through. As I read I come up with discussion questions as well as pulling words to use for spelling and vocabulary lessons. We do use Book Adventure for the quizzes on books he reads, but they are not the greatest reading comprehension assessments, which is why I prefer to have book discussions or ask him to occasionally write book reports.
So, that is basically it. We use a few really great free online curriculum resources and we utilize the grand blessing that is the library, and we manage to homeschool for free this way. I hope this was helpful in planning your own path toward homeschooling for free.