For these families and others, several complete, free, multiple-grade-level curricula currently exist on the Internet. These are reviewed below. One word of advice: If you decide a particular online curriculum is essential for your educational program, consider printing out some of the most important materials for your files, as well as using the materials on the Internet. Sometimes sites change, vanish, are taken offline periodically for complete revision, or become fee-based sites rather than free sites, with little warning.  

The Kentucky Migrant Technology Project  provides complete, free, online courses in all subjects for grades 6 through 12. Originally designed as an experimental program for migrant farm workers’ children and funded by a large U. S. Department of Education grant to the state of Kentucky, the courses are now available free on the Internet to anyone who wants to use them. An optional testing program is also available. You must register to use the testing program, but registration is free. The courses may be used together as a complete curriculum for grades 6 to 12, or separately, course by course. 

• Ambleside Online  is a free, grades K to 6 Charlotte Mason curriculum outline, including schedules, books, an online support group, and instructional materials. You will need to borrow or purchase some books to implement the curriculum. Links to other online books are provided free at the site.  

Shu-Chen Jenny Yen’s Online Montessori Albums  provide developmentally appropriate Montessori educational activities for preschool through first grade (ages 3 to 6). In Montessori teacher training, teachers spend a tremendous amount of time creating their “albums” (essentially a set of lesson plans). Usually Montessori albums are closely guarded by the teacher. Jenny Yen was the first individual Montessori teacher to share her albums on the Internet. For those looking for activities for preschool and kindergarten children in the Montessori tradition, this curriculum will provide a wide variety of activities in all subject areas for one or more years. 

As with any curriculum, even one selected on a temporary or emergency basis, be sure to review and adapt the curriculum to meet your child’s individual needs and your family’s religious beliefs and values. A curriculum is only a tool for teaching and learning. You are still the teacher, and your insight about your children and the guidance you receive in prayer concerning their needs is far more important than following any curriculum in lock-step fashion.

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Kathi Kearney has been working with home-schooling parents for 23 years. She is Founder of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted children in South Casoo, Maine, a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, and editor of Highly Gifted Children, the newsletter of The Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children.  She has taught at the university level and is a free-lance writer. You will often find Kathi in Crosswalk.com chat rooms, helping home-school moms.