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If I want to help a low-income friend homeschool...


Dmmetler
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Would it be better to buy print material, or buy a kindle fire and load it with all the free PDFs that I've collected for different subject areas, plus she could download free e-books, library e-books, etc? She doesn't have internet at home, but wifi is fairly available in public settings. She ended up homeschooling because her child's school was not at all understanding of her child's medical issues. She has a 4th grader and a 5th grader, but both girls are on about the same level because the 5th grader has had so many struggles medically over the last few years.

 

I don't know that she'd even let me help in this way-but I'd like to at least make the offer to help her get started, and honestly, all the cheap and free stuff I know of is usually in .pdf form.

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I think I'd be more inclined to go with a Windows device than a Kindle in terms of browsing through pdfs.  There are some Windows tablets now in the $59-$79 range, and I think there may have even been a laptop of some sort for $79 or $129 or somewhere around there at WalMart and Best Buy.

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I think I'd see how she might be able to print, first.  Maybe she has a decent printer, or maybe the library is close and has free printing?  If the library is close and has decent Wifi, then I think a Kindle Fire would be a really nice suggestion.  It really depends on the PDFs, though, whether they're designed to be printed or not, but overall, I think that would work very well, because there would be options for audio books and such.

 

I think one really helpful idea would be to help her figure out how to use the local libraries to construct a full curriculum.  I know there are so many free guides out on the internet, which is fantastic, but if they then require a bunch of books that you don't own, and your library doesn't own, then they don't help much.  So knowing what you have in your local library that would work well would be helpful.

 

Also, if there are any local groups who have a lending library, you might direct her to those as well.

 

As someone who has a lot more stuff in her homeschooling library than she'd ever be able to buy at full price (thanks to hand-me-downs and a lot of time spent looking for sales), thank you for blessing your friend this way!

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Print, totally print, unless she has access to something every day.  The cheapest print curriculum I have found have been Creek Edge Press's task cards, where one a week suffices for that subject's study.  http://www.creekedgepress.com/Gallery.php$20, and you don't need specific books or worksheets or anything of that sort.  The student can teach themselves or be taught.

 

We do use the computer in our homeschool, but much of what we do relies on library books.  I like pdfs, but I don't like printing (only do it really for MEP and science labs), so we rely more on notebooking and other methods of retention.

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Are you suggesting she email the PDF from her Kindle Fire to herself and then print it? I can barely navigate my Kindle Fire but I could easily send a PDF from a desktop. OP, do you know how tech savvy they are? And I don't think many libraries do free copies. My husband's does but it's not a public library.

 

I dunno. LOL! I read here that some libraries give a certain number of pages of free printing; mine doesn't, but maybe the OP's friend lives where they do. She should check into all sorts of things like that.

 

I was also assuming you could print from a Kindle Fire. Is that not the case? Does Dropbox work? I don't have a KF, but I can use my iPad to print either via AirPrint or GooglePrint, but I can also send things from the iPad to Dropbox, and then I could access Dropbox.com at a library to print from there.

 

I think print would probably be easier, but if she wants to use a lot of free books, audio books, PDFs, etc. and doesn't have Internet access at home, she needs some sort of portable something.

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I'd probably opt to help a new homeschooler with printed materials that are ready to go. When we were just beginning (1992!) I didn't know what I was doing and probably couldn't have figured out in advance what copies needed to be made in advance of the week. That's why we ended up buying a copier- so I could copy as needed. 

 

You're a nice friend to help her! 

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Hm, in thinking in terms of sustainability, you might introduce her to Charlotte Mason or Ambelside online.  I'm not a huge CM person, but it would be the sort of thing she could keep up herself by using the library, without having to print things or use up curriculum.

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Print, totally print, unless she has access to something every day.  The cheapest print curriculum I have found have been Creek Edge Press's task cards, where one a week suffices for that subject's study.  http://www.creekedgepress.com/Gallery.php$20, and you don't need specific books or worksheets or anything of that sort.  The student can teach themselves or be taught.

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing this!

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Hm, in thinking in terms of sustainability, you might introduce her to Charlotte Mason or Ambelside online. I'm not a huge CM person, but it would be the sort of thing she could keep up herself by using the library, without having to print things or use up curriculum.

:iagree:

 

It might also be easier for her to stay organized if she has a set plan, rather than a ton of individual materials and files.

 

Alternatively, is there an online homeschool group in your area, where you could ask for local donations? (Try to be specific about what your friend needs.) Many people are often happy to help a family in need, especially if you are willing to go to their homes and pick up the donations.

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If your friend needs to print out schoolwork, check your local library systems.  One of ours lets each cardholder print out 75 pages per week for free.  Also they offer 2 hours of free computer time per day.  She could use the library computers and save documents to a thumb drive (or two, in case one stops working). 

 

Do you have a homeschool consignment store anywhere nearby?

 

Or a local homeschool group whose members might be willing to donate materials they're no longer using?

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I am an out of sight, out of mind person, so we would struggle with only electronic resources. And planning to print on scheduled trips to the library would trip me up at some point. I also get overwhelmed at too many potentials with free stuff--it's easier for me to have something concrete to start with, like a curriculum.

 

I like the Kindle idea if her library has extensive lit collections in e-book forms AND she chooses to do a literature-intense curriculum. 

 

I would be more likely to help her find options that she would like, and then buy her something in whatever price range you planned to spend. If you can find it used and want to buy something else on top of it, that's great too.

 

If you are specifically thinking of curriculum in .pdf form (not just free stuff), I don't think a Kindle is a bad idea, but I would need some help to maximize it, and storage is an issue with internet access. I think it's doable with support and some actual understanding of what works and doesn't work for her. 

 

As for printing (as others have suggested), if you offer your home printer, I would offer it on a "You can print this curriculum" basis or offer a certain number of pages to get her up and running. 

 

I have not experimented with printing from a Kindle. I would be sure it's not terribly hard to do before doing much curriculum on one.

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She'd actually planned to do the state virtual charter, but they're having a lot of problems and can no longer add new students (I think they would have been closed entirely were it not for current parents pointing out that there's no other virtual charter option.)

 

It's just been a really, really sad situation all around.

 

I think the next step will be to find some placement tests and samples and see what appeals.

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You might be able to get some answers from calling Amazon.  Our Kindle is a bit older, so I don't know if it's still true, but it was nearly impossible to load it with more than a couple PDFs.  It had virtually no memory, and the files had to be emailed to get on there, and I do not recall a print option.  We tried using a school PDF on the Kindle once, and after that always did it on the laptop.  That said, I think the newer ones come with a slot for a memory card, so maybe...but I still don't know if you can browse the web and open/save PDFs directly, or whether you still have to do that on a regular computer then email to the Kindle.  Certain things just aren't compatible with mobile devices and won't open...I want to say even youtube videos.  But again, mine is 2nd gen, I think, so maybe they've improved on that.

 

I think printed materials are going to be easier...something like math that can be written in a notebook or a consumable workbook, Writing With Ease workbooks perhaps, and perhaps using the library to check out some of the classics that are used in WWE to read them in entirety for literature, and Story of the World with Activity Guide for additional book suggestions to try to get from the library (or not...or just SOTW as a laid-back approach for getting started the first year), and some kind of science.  Years that we have pieced together from online freebies have always been harder, and that's with internet and with a large library system that does a great job allowing interlibrary holds.

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I'd buy the books.

 

As a side note, does your local cable company offer special pricing for low income families?  I know in my area Comcast has a Internet Essentials program which offers $9.95/month internet for qualifying families.

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I have lots of PDFs and printing cost is negligible for me, so I'd see which PDF books I already own that my friend is interested in, print them out myself for her, and then pay to have them spiral bound for her. I just printed out a year's worth of Math Mammoth (in color!) for both of my kids and had it bound. I'd estimate that ink, paper and binding cost me less than $10 total for two children. I couldn't buy her a year's worth of traditional math books for that price. 

ETA: I bought this a year ago ago, have printed out THOUSANDS of pages (including two full years of Math Mammoth now plus several full Ellen McHenry programs) and am just now at the point of needing to order more ink soon. If you own an ink jet it might be worth seeing if this company has compatible ink cartridges for your computer. A package of 750 sheets of good, thick copy paper is $6.99 at Sam's Club and I've found a local print/copy shop that only charges $2 to spiral bind books. All in all it's a really cost effective way for us to print out materials. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00916UM0C?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

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If the choice is between a kindle with pdfs, and printed materials, I'd go with printed materials. Making free pdf's work is difficult, especially if you have never homeschooled before. 

 

However, I think there are some other option depending on the amount of help you are able to provide.

 

Does she have access to a well-stocked library? If so, does she know how to use it and turn it into a curriculum? If you could help her with that, I think that is worth more than most things you could buy with money.

 

I think a proper laptop is significantly better than a tablet. It would give her the ability to save files, edit pdfs, use streaming videos on the internet, print easier, etc. You can get some barebones laptops for $200. 

 

Getting internet would be a big big help. Freedompop is free monthly after you buy the device which is I think $90? It only works in certain areas, and is limited, but could be a huge help. http://www.freedompop.com/

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