Most home-schooling families have the time to select carefully the curriculum materials they will use. Some families choose materials from a wide variety of publishers and sources, while others select a complete curriculum package from home-school suppliers like Sonlight, Calvert School, Alpha Omega Publications, KONOS, and home-school curriculum suppliers. A few families choose to use correspondence or distance learning programs for elementary and high school developed by major colleges and universities, or video projects like A Beka’s Video Home School. 

However, sometimes a family needs a complete curriculum almost immediately, and they do not have either the time to leisurely review available curricula, or the money to buy one. What are some of the reasons this might happen? 

1.  A family may need to homeschool on an emergency basis.  A situation at school may be untenable. Reasons can range from such widely disparate types of incidents as bullying, severe allergies to something in the school environment, an inappropriate curriculum that cannot be changed, or a complete disrespect for a child’s religious beliefs. In some cases, it is imperative to remove the child from school and begin home schooling as soon as possible, and a curriculum may literally be needed overnight.  

2.  Previously selected home-schooling curriculum may not be working at all with a particular child. A family needs to make an immediate change, but does not have the money to purchase new curricula at the present time. 

3.  Due to a job change or military activation, a family is suddenly transferred to a new location.  Although the children may have been attending public or private school in their old hometown, either no appropriate school placement exists in the new area or there isn’t time to make an adequate choice, and the family decides to home school instead.  

4.  A local or national emergency makes it impossible for a child enrolled in public or private school to attend school for a period of time.

 5.   A family needs more time to review possible curricula to purchase.  However, they must have something to use in the meantime until a proper review and purchase of curriculum can take place.

 6.  In just two or three months, an academically advanced home-schooled child completes the year’s curriculum his parents have purchased in just two or three months. The family needs to obtain additional materials, but does not yet have the money, or needs extra time to locate appropriate materials. 

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.

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.