I am coming across a few home ed families who have started out by hearing of a good curriculum and then buying the lot, only to find it doesn’t quite work for them.
I know some home ed families prefer not to use computers but for us having computers has meant access to an astonishing amount of free or very cheap material that has been good for our families education.
With my dear ol’Toshiba laptop in terminal decline, poor thing, I have been thinking about how we use computers here.
We have 4. Sounds like a lot I know. Alex has a fancy desktop contraption in his bedroom. Now before you go all “not in the bedroom” on me; Alex is 18-an adult. He has a job and paid for his computer out of his hard earned wages. It is a fancier one because he uses it for digital art work. He also kindly shares it with Iona for her research and Open Uni work when she doesn’t have access to another computer or a quiet place to study. Alex also has (for his 18th birthday) a Cinteq drawing pad which he paid nearly half towards (as £800 is a bit much for my budget!)
Josh has an old laptop that just about plays DVDs and he has been doing essays on it but as it keeps crashing it isn’t quite safe for that these days so he uses the desk top in the living room when he can. With help from his granddad he should get a working laptop for his 21st 🙂 (Sh! don’t tell him).
My lap top is a lovely old refurbed Toshiba and I must admit I am fond of it. Wish it wasn’t crashing every few hours. I’ve completely rebooted and reloaded Windows-if anyone knows what else I can do to keep it alive I would love to know!
I use it for blogging, curriculum planning, emails (when I get the chance!) and for the children’s lessons. It gives me access to free curriculum, free books, free audio and I use it as a radio when I’m working around the house. It is the Math U See DVD player and as it has great speakers (better than the desk top) we use it for music (Classics for Kids) and other audio lessons.
The desk top in the living room is the family hub computer. All printing and typing lessons and most of the Starfall lessons, art appreciation etc goes on with this one. It’s used by everyone -although I tend to use it the least because I have the laptop. I tend to just do printing with it.
It is a very low spec machine which the local man built me for £250. It does the basics which is fine by me.
Computers vary in price hugely. I advise you to work out what you want to use it for before buying. If you can get away with a low end one, then do so. In our family Alex needs a fast high graphics machine and my laptop could do with being slightly higher spec for some work I would like to do with filmwork and art; but that’s about it.
Once you have a computer and a decent internet connection curriculum is a bit more straight forward.
You can shop around, compare books, even look inside some books and then there are the free curriculum sites with access to free books and worksheets if you want to use them.
I move around all sorts of curricula sites and pick and choose what best suits my children. While I know many of the American ready made sets can look good and I know Sonlight for example has a pretty good reputation- I really think they are expensive. I tend to look at them and then mooch around Amazon to see what I can get cheap.
The other suggestion I would have is check out your local home ed families before you buy. For example I am using Oxford Reading Tree but I don’t buy them, my friend passes them on when her children are finished and I pass them back and forth with another friend who uses them with her children. We do the same with Math U See stuff. It’s not cheap so share.