Complete Kindergarten Homeschooling Curriculum for $100!!

I just wrote this up for a new friend of mine who is considering homeschooling her daughter in the fall.  There’s so much info here, I thought it might work well as a post!

I adore Sonlight.  I really do.  I have purchased four of their Cores, and will surely remain a willing and happy customer of theirs.  But, their newcomer Kindergarten package is a whopping $777.56!!!  That’s enough to scare nearly any new homeschooling family away from homeschooling!!  I don’t think homeschooling — especially for Kindergarten — should be so pricey and detailed.

When I was first looking into homeschooling, I researched a great many curricula, and had decided on K12.  While that remains a stellar program, at that time, it was about $700.  Or was it $800?  I can’t remember.  In any case, my husband nixed K12, simply based on price.  (Now, it’s as expensive, if not more.)

I despaired, and lamented to a friend of mine who had homeschooled for several years.  She scoffed at the pricey programs, and outlined three texts that she recommended for Kindergarten, all for a grand total of about $75.  I have altered that recommendation over the years — changing the math program, and adding a handwriting curriculum.  But, the basics of what my friend Julie recommended to me, eight years ago, still stand.

You CAN homeschool Kindergarten for $100.

Here’s how:

  • The #1 necessity is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.   This is a fantastic, sensible, unique way to teach your child to read, mostly through phonics.  I starts with teaching children sounds — not letters.  Your child will learn “mmmm” not the letter “m”.   It is about $11 used on (with shipping). However, I do NOT suggest that you follow this book’s handwriting schedule. (It starts with very difficult letters, like “m” and “s”.)
  • Next is a good handwriting program. Almost everything you do outside of learning to read is going to be handwriting-dependent. I HIGHLY recommend Handwriting Without Tears. Some people don’t like it because they start with capital letters, and, at least to start with, you need their special paper. But, the HWT program really makes more sense, as capitals are uniform in size, and usually, much simpler to form. It is a multisensory program. There are LOTS of accessories you can buy with this program, which can quickly run up your bill. However, I just recommend the slate. The K program is called Letters and Numbers for Me. Buying that book, plus the slate (new) will cost you $11.20 + shipping. The teacher’s guide is an additional $6.95. I don’t think it’s entirely necessary, but you may find it helpful, and it may help build your confidence as a teacher, and give lots of additional ideas and information.
  • Next is a good math program. Depending on where your child’s handwriting skills are, you may not be able to start math until a few months into the school year, or even the second half of the year, but that’s all right! I highly recommend Singapore Math. It is literally the math system used by all the school children in the nation of Singapore, which consistently ranks first among math students, worldwide. It is a colorful, engaging system that uses both mental and “normal” math practices. DON’T buy the teacher’s guide. It is expensive and pointless. You almost don’t even need the textbook. (I do recommend the teacher’s guide starting in 4th or 5th grade.) Singapore uses (softback) textbooks, one per semester, called A and B, and consumable workbooks A and B. You can save the textbooks and use them for your next child. Unfortunately, the prices on Singapore stuff just shot WAY up. It looks like they updated the Earlybird/Kindergarten program. Textbooks and workbooks for the entire year will cost $66.00 plus shipping. You may be able to find the older editions on Homeschool Classifieds or eBay or Amazon (weirdly enough, at the time of this writing, all the books on Amazon are more expensive than buying through the Singapore website).
  • Next, I suggest a program called Five in a Row. These are “textbooks” that are like expanded reader’s guides to picture books. The idea is that you read one book, each day for a week. Then each day, you pick one or two of the 15 or so activities associated with that book. The activity might be science, geography, art — whatever looks good to you! There are three volumes — you don’t need to go in order. Each covers 15-21 books. Then, it’s up to you whether you buy each book, or check them out from the library. Homeschool Classifieds is a GREAT resource for FIAR stuff. You can order used textbook volumes, plus various books used in each volume. It looks like you can purchase used volumes for $12-20 each, postpaid. (FIAR is what is known as a “unit study.” Meaning, all your school subjects are centered around one topic and/or book. Each week is a “unit,” centered around a different book each time.)

So, even factoring in shipping costs, that’s approximately $140 for all materials, for an entire year:  used Teach Your Child…, new HWT, new Singapore, and two used FIAR volumes.  That is, assuming you get the FIAR books from the library.   To cut costs more, if you started with math in the second semester, that would subtract $33. If you didn’t get the HWT teacher guide, that would subtract $7.00. Voila! A year of curric for $100. To cut costs even MORE, only get one volume of FIAR and do each book for two weeks, instead of one.  You’d think that your child would get tired of a particular book, but s/he very likely will not.  (Or, do 17 books for one week at a time, doing approximately half of the related activities, then do the same 17 books again, doing the rest of the activities, so your child re-visits the same book, 17 weeks later.)

Although each FIAR unit study contains one or more (usually more) simple science experiments, you may want to use an additional science curriculum. HOWEVER. Out of all the homeschooling subjects, science is easily the most expensive. A great site to peruse, though, is Home Science Tools. They have individual books, whole year curricula, kits to go with other companies’ curricula, individual supplies, etc. You may want to wait on ordering anything from there, though, until you look through FIAR.

So.  That’s it!  Kindergarten doesn’t need to be expensive or fussy.  One hundred bucks.  One year.  You can do it!!  (And, start saving so that you can buy Core 1 for first grade!)

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on June 18, 2009, in Books for children, Encouragement, Homeschooling. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Great information! Kindergaten for $100 sounds wonderful! I am thinking about FIAR for my upcoming kindergarteners, and it was good to see your recommendation. We actually used Sonlight K for my oldest child’s first grade year. She was just coming out of Japanese kindergarten, and I hadn’t done much in English with her up until that point, so I thought it was a better fit than Core 1. Also, I knew that her younger brother would be joining us the next year, and I thought it would be easier to combine if we were using Core 1 for his first year homeschooling instead of Core 2. I’m not sorry we did it that way. Core K has some wonderful books. We also loved HWT for handwriting to start with. We did switch to Reason for Handwriting later, and the kids had no problem with the switch at all. We don’t use Singapore now, but did use it for a few years. I really liked the Earlybird series, too.

    • What math do you use now, Sue, and why did you switch? (I’m happy w/ Singapore… just curious.) We switched to RFH, too, for my oldest son. He learned cursive that way. But, my middle son who has motor skill problems, still just prints. We will likely do typing for him in the fall. I don’t know if I will do cursive for him at all, even HWT’s cursive program. He’ll be in 5th grade, and part of me thinks it’s wrong for me not to teach him cursive, but part of me thinks that’s just not a hill to die on… Still haven’t decided. My 7yo had quite a bit of trouble with handwriting/printing as well, but came leaps and bounds last year, so I may go ahead and do cursive w/ him in the fall for his 3rd grade year.

  2. PolkaDotMommy

    We’ve decided on My Father’s World (several local homeschool families are also using it and after speaking with the owner I was sold). Their kindergarten core is $98 or $140ish if you opt for the deluxe package which includes items like an ant hill and butterfly package.

    Our other core is used for 2nd -8th graders be runs $250-350.

    They also carry Singapore math… $45 per year + answer book for 6.90 and additional workbooks for $9.

  3. After reading this, I wanted to check and see which other states have k-12 e-schools. (Ohio does and that is what we are doing next year.)

    Here’s the link…IT”S FREE! Arizona is included in the list…26 states total!)

  4. Sometimes, you can even find the FIAR books and ‘textbooks’ in the library. Our library has hooked on phonics boxes by grade level you can check out and use at home. That can cut costs even more.

    And, has many free lapbooks of the FIAR books, if you want more activities. This is a great way to show family progress, and to keep for portfolios, etc.

  5. There certainly are many great options out there! Thanks for sharing how totally do-able homeschooling is [smile]. Great ideas and resources there.

    Of course, there are a ton of really great books in the Sonlight K program too if you decide to go that route [smile]. Just throwing that out there… [sneaky grin]


  6. millenialhomemaker

    Hi Karen,
    I have a list of what I did when I taught my son at home for Kindergarten. I am a cheapskate by nature, so I definitely used the road less traveled… if you want, I can email you my list. Let me know!

  7. Karen, we switched from Singapore to Math-U-See a couple of years ago mainly because my daughter was really struggling, and I am not a math person at all. I loved that Signgapore was very similar to Japanese math, but I was struggling to explain things in a way that she could understand, and my Japanese husband just didn’t have time to help with it as much as I would have liked. Having said that, swithching to MUS, and having the creator of that curriculum teaching each lesson on the DVD helped a lot at first, but now that she is finishing up fifth grade math she often complains that she can’t undertand the explanation on the DVD, so I have to re-teach it anyway. Sigh. I am thinking of trying Teaching Textbooks, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.

    • I am switching to TT Math 7 for both my 7th grader and my 5th grader in the fall. (They both passed the placement test; my 5th grader tends to do very well in math, my 7th grader is a 75-80% math student.) I’ll let you know how it goes! (Unless you need to make a decision before the fall, in which case my input won’t be of any help at all!!!)

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