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Is this even possible - Homeschool HS for free or very very cheap?

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So a dear friend of ours is a single dad with a 14yo daughter. She has been in the CA online schools, but recently has run into some issues and wants to pull to homeschool. His schedule is such that he can supervise, grade, etc. But is not prepared to instruct. Long and complicated. Right now she is not interested in college, but I have talked to him about keeping options like CC open. Her strengths are language/lit, weaknesses math and sciences, dislikes history. He wants to just make sure she graduates. I want to help her (known her since birth) while still making sure she has options if she changes her mind in 4 years. I am thinking to encourage her to look at CC programs here like Speech therapy asst (she is good with kids).


So I offered to help with the paperwork, transferring her out, etc. I act as a cover school for several children other than my own (allowed in CA as long as I record keep, which I do). 


But the thing is $$ is tight. Really no extra. My oldest in only 7th, so I have any resources to share/give.


I am considering telling him about the charter schools where you get a stipend and pick your own curriculum, but the thing is he may run into the same issues as currently. I have had 3 friends start then drop it due to not good matches with the assigned teachers (and denied requests to switch) and put kids into PS or leave the country to put their kids in schools overseas. Plus they may be full around here for the year already. Most homeschoolers use these around here.


I know about easy peasy homechool site, the thing is it is so overtly christian. That would require a lot of time on his part to go through and say skip this part, read this instead of that, etc. Plus he just may not know where to go look for something. Anything like it that is secular???

Any programs that offer discounts/scholarships for low income families???? I thought time 4 learning would be good, but it is $30/month.

Coursera high school plan?

other free MOCC high school plans?

Plans using public domain books?

Khan academy for math?? I wasn't impressed when I tried it at elementary level, but that could be my DD.

We are not looking at AP level material here. We have dual enrollment available here for later, but it can not be basic college math (college algebra at least) or remedial english level classes. 

We are in CA, but not worried about a-g requirements right now. IF she goes on it will be to CC. 


I realize that if she lacks motivation, this would be hard, but if he can have a plan and her buy in, it could work.


Libraries around here are not any use. Mostly focused on ESL and teaching reading to adults and job training workshops (like resumes, microsoft, etc.) and no activities for homeschoolers or the like.


Any suggestions/ideas???

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Yes, one can homeschool high school very cheaply using used textbooks, free online resources, and designing one's own curriculum.


Get a math book. Lials is a good choice and has been around for a while, so plenty of cheap copies available used. Work through it.

For sciences, we used intro college texts, older editions, also extremely cheap. Literature = library books=free. 

If you find OCW MOOCs that work for her, add those. None of my kids had any interest in online courses, but there are plenty available. You can school completely without scripted curriculum and don't need materials designed specifically for homeschoolers.

See whether the library has GC lectures available or whether the budget allows to buy some used on amazon; they are awesome and can be a main core of a course.


ETA: I am using only secular materials and have not found it difficult to find a variety of resources for each course.

Edited by regentrude
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The edition of Lial's we are using is about $10 used online right now. That plus Khan academy works fine for Algebra.


I have been looking at Schoolhouseteachers dot com right now. It is having a special for $139 for two years though that expires very soon. I am not sure how Christian it is, but you could easily find almost all subjects there for that price. No extra textbooks required (even for math actually.) I find it kind of interesting and am considering it for electives for mine for next year. There is a lot of Bible, and I haven't looked at the subjects to see how religious they are. But for your price range, you might look it over. I have just barely started reading people's reviews and such to learn more about it.


And for EasyPeasy, there are probably some subjects one could do. My dd is doing the 7th grade Spanish. It isn't religious at all. I would guess the Spanish I for high school isn't either. And there is music appreciation and such too.

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Yes I know used textbooks could be gotten cheaply, but he really needs a plan laid out for her, a checklist if you will. Not just here, read this and write me a paper on it.


I looked some more through easy peasy and think maybe some of the courses could work.


As for math, my understanding is that she needs instruction versus just reading along and figuring out the problems herself. Are there free videos aligned to any of the common texts?

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The Virtual Homeschool Group has free online at your own pace Saxon math courses (voice thread/video instruction, online homework problems auto-graded, online tests auto-graded, availability of free online open office hours with instructors on three afternoons a week if the student runs into any trouble), but you do have to have a copy of the textbook for copyright purposes. This is secular. They have similar set-ups for Apologia science, but that is, of course, heavily young earth creationist Christian. http://www.virtualhomeschoolgroup.org . They have some live online classes but those are already full for this year.


We've used Coursera and edX, but like most of the MOOCs I've seen, they are usually aimed at college level work, not high school, and I'm not sure it sounds like that would be a good fit for this girl at this point. You could check out Universal Class https://www.universalclass.com/. I haven't  used them, but they are available for free through our state's system of online resources for public libraries. I know you said your local library doesn't have much in the way of direct instruction, but perhaps they tap into something similar for online resources?


Maybe check out http://www.homeschoolfree.org/p/welcome.html ? I don't have any experience with them.


Khan Academy has a lot of subjects other than just math but I don't know if they have any support/accountability for them (comprehension tests, etc).


Crash Course world history has lesson plans and is engaging. http://thecrashcourse.com/curriculum.html  They have Crash Course series for other topics, but I don't know if they have lesson plans.


The Big History Project has lesson plans https://school.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive


Shmoop has some free, some paid material  http://www.shmoop.com/


Edited by KarenNC
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ETA: just found this site: http://www.homeschoolcollegeusa.com/

anyone use it?


In glancing at it, it looks like they use Saylor for at least some of their courses. Yes, Saylor's free and online, but I would advise looking closely at the syllabus for any class through Saylor. I was just looking at the macroeconomics class through Saylor this week and a number of sections relied only on material from Wikipedia for source material. Wikipedia is an okay place to start looking for potential leads for info, but I don't consider it something to rely on as a sole or primary source for education. It may be that their other classes are sourced differently, though.


Even with that, again, this is college-level work, or at least advanced high school, so is she at a point where she can handle that or would it be an exercise in frustration?

Edited by KarenNC
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So, I've been thinking what I would do in your friend's situation. I'm going to assume I can squeeze some money out of my monthly budget-


I'd start with Crash Course World History.  I looked at it earlier this week more in depth and it is much better than first glance led me to believe, in fact we'll probably use it next year. Lots and lots of Documentaries on YT. If I really felt like I NEED a textbook then I'd pick up Spielvogel or A People's History of the World, also K12's World History 


There's Class Zone to go along with Holt Biology  or Chemistry books (the 2006 or 2008 books would be fine)There are virtual labs and quizzes. Again do the Crash Course videos, no curriculum but still worth it.


I'd splurge on math and find a textbook with a solutions manual or purchase something like TT  if I could swing it, especially since it holds it's value really well and he could get quite a bit back for resale (even better if he purchased used to begin with)  I'm a huge fan of Khan Academy and what it has helped do for independent learning but Sal Khans voice grates on my nerves. Instead there are plenty of math video on YT, check out Brightstorm in particular.


Writing Strands is cheap if you buy it used on Amazon, cheap straight from the publisher too(level 4 is recommended for 14 year old's).  I bought Reading Strands for $.01 plus shipping last year.  That and some library books would be adequate, IMO.  You could throw in How to read like a professor, or get it from the library. 


VSL Spanish has at least the first years worth of Spanish for free online, adding in Madgrigal's magic key or see it say it would be affordable too.


I would then suggest he start putting a particular amount away each month, even if it's only $10, to buy curriculum next year.



Shoot, except for the Writing Strands (mine hate that style of work) and the fact that we'll be doing wet labs the above list looks like what mine will be doing next year and I have a pretty decent budget I could spend. 


ETA: Glencoe has Lit guides that include actual fill in the blank and short response type essays.... maybe longer ones too? 

ETA 2: Also the lively Art of Writing is cheap and some HSer's on this board made a workbook to go along with it..... I can't seem to find it but there's a link in a thread somewhere.


Edited by foxbridgeacademy
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Thank you so much! This is a great place to start! I have the how to read lit like a professor to start and the glencoe guides could help.


I just looked at Saylor's American History class and did not see any wikipedia, but I will keep my eyes open. I'm seeing archive.gov and Library of congress and a few university websites, but I will definitely check each course.


I just found out he hasn't applied for some programs that might save a few $$ a month (like electricity help and phone discounts), so if he does those, he might be able to swing some $$ each month.


I could help him make a little private blog to keep track of what websites/videos she's using for each subject.


She's a smart girl, but just easily frustrated. If she could see a goal/light at the end of the tunnel, I think she can do it. I hope the idea of maybe doing some CLEP tests or taking a few CC classes might give her a jump start on college so it doesn't seem like such a pipe dream iykwim.

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You can actualy get pretty far with Khan Academy, ...since she's not planning to take the SAT, she really only needs Algebra 1 and Geometry to graduate right?  Algebra 1 is pretty simple, and even the (IMO) somewhat sparse practice sets would be enough to get through.  I don't know about GEometry, but then, I also don't know if that's a requirement to graduate.


What about taking her CHSPE and just going to CC now.  Maybe the new horizons there would interest her and give her a new spark.  The CHSPE really only requires Algebra 1, being able to write a decent essay, and basic grammar and reading skills.  My 8th grade son passed the practice test with 99% last year.  If she works through Algebra 1 on Khan Academy and uses the CHSPE practice book, wouldn't that give her a goal that she feels like she can really reach?  It will probably take her only one year to get through all she needs for the CHSPE, and she can start registering and getting excited about going to CC.


I know you said it's a long story and we aren't entering into that right now, but many kids lose their motivation just because high school is a weird holding tank, if you will, for the next stage of life.  It's very annoying to certain kids (on top of whatever else she's going through)

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Thanks. I though about having her "test out", but part of what is going on, also kind of needs her to have "no pressure" and some time to mature and I don't want to say "heal" but I don't think at 14 she is ready emotionally to head to CC. Maybe in a year or 2 she might be ready. And I think if she can get ready, I might see about her taking CC as DE. Then it is free except for books. Although I guess if she graduated, she would qualify for financial aid.


My understanding is she can't see the forest for the trees kind of situation. She thinks since she can't do ____, why bother doing _____ iykwim. The online school she is with does not allow flexibility (thanks to a-g I think) and her being behind in certain areas just exacerbates things. The site I linked up thread is looking like it has some good resources. 


I dug through the libraries web resources and found they just added Brainfuze tutoring from 1pm-10pm daily and Pronunciator for languages. The also have Gale Courses, but from first look, they seem to all be geared towards adults (how to make a web site for your business, etc. Although they do have some about how to teach the Singapore method to kids LOL).

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Check out CK12.org for math and science. They have a complete high school biology course with worksheets and quizzes (you must sign in with a teacher account to get them). We used parts of it and liked it a lot.


Another resources is https://quarksandquirksbiology.wordpress.com/


It's an out of the box high school bio class. We used parts of this too and liked them.

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I homeschooled on a small budget and some wonderful giving friends. I believe you *can* homeschool on a tiny budget, it is easier now than ever before. I'll add the caveat that it does take time to find resources that will work if you have deficits in some subjects. A course schedule and answers are helpful, but a lot of textbooks assume a knowledgeable teacher, leaving a lot of guesswork for the parent who feels under qualified. 


Even though it's high school. I would start light and maybe concentrate on the core subjects of math, science, history, English, and add one thing that she would consider fun or interesting. If she doesn't like history, maybe pick a book on some area of history to begin reading, either a narrative text or even a topical book on specific area. 


I believe one of the biggest obstacles when trying to homeschool on a tight budget is feeling like the resource you have isn't good enough, so you try to add more, which can end up as too much. One good resource for each subject is enough. Find that "good resource"1 can take some trial and error. 


1. Good resource being defined as one that is academically fitting for the student and provides the correct amount of support or helps for the parent. 

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What about Hunter's Rainbow Curriculum?  I believe all her recommendations are available free. 




I updated the math today to add in some Newspapers in Education links, and to slightly gray all the supplements, so they stand out from the Ray's and other core texts. I really think that free Newspapers in Education lesson plans are an awesome supplement to a mostly vintage curriculum.



I don't think this would work for the OP. The last 2 years are very politics heavy and I think a student that didn't like history would hate that worse.


It is almost all free PD books, using books that have been reprinted with modern ISBN#s to kind of make that less obvious.


It is possible to HOMEschool highschool for free, but homeSCHOOLING high school is a lot harder.


I mostly have been writing this for ME and the homeless students adult and children that I have been interacting with. It is radical and controversial and absolutely not mainstream.


Robinson threw in books about nuclear, and I have books about domestic abuse, crazy dreams, healthcare without doctors, and communism in the last year. I'm just as wacky as he is if not more.  :biggrinjester:


I've been at this for years and it is only 2 pages. :lol:


There are reasons for every choice. Reasons that are important to ME, but not necessarily to others. This is meant for marginalized kids who have an extreme lack of resources. Parts or all of it may appeal to a wider audience, but I am aiming straight at my intended audience, and refuse to look too much wider for fear of losing my focus.


Marginalized kids...well...they are not the same as kids that come from greater safety and resources. And, just...I'm not yet to the point of writing a defense of this.


My oldest is 30, and the other not far behind. I've lived a hard eventful life in more than one country and many many subcultures. I am who I am. This is a product of me. How *I* teach. This uses MY strengths, and I am too weak not to center on using my strengths.


Oldschoolers taught with what they had, and poured their crazy selves into their students. For reasons that are still not fully understood, NOT putting academics first, resulted in academic excellence that isn't being surpassed by wealthier healthier homeSCHOOLERS today.


Oldschoolers jumped not knowing what was going to happen. Sure there are more homeSCHOOLERS now, but I wonder is HOMEschooling is rarer now than in the 80's and 90's.


OP, good luck! I know what it is like to sit at a table with a homeless teen and the teen's mom, and to discuss options. Hard choices need to be made. Sometimes risky nontraditional ones, especially if some doors are already closed. Some doors are so often closed, that I have taken the liberty of not worrying about them anymore in my default booklists and advice.


The USA is a big place. "Highschool" is the least acknowledging of that. It is like the 3 monkeys with hands over eyes, ears and mouth. What happens when we remove our hands and really look at that kid?


Just...good luck!

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I know about easy peasy homechool site, the thing is it is so overtly christian. That would require a lot of time on his part to go through and say skip this part, read this instead of that, etc. Plus he just may not know where to go look for something. Anything like it that is secular???


Not all of Easy Peasy is overtly Christian.  I peeked at their HS Math it seemed fine.

Maybe you can help your friend pick and choose some courses from all the suggestions.


It can be done pretty cheap but the checking/correcting alone is a lot of work.

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