It’s Monday morning and you look on your email inbox and there they are – this week’s homeschool freebies. And even better, it corresponds with the history time period you are studying. A few clicks and you have it downloaded. Whew! Got that freebie!
I go through this almost weekly. It may be a homeschool freebie website, a favorite website’s occasional freebie, or a Facebook share; but no matter how it comes, I seem to find myself downloading a few freebies every month (ok, sometimes more than a few).
Granted – not all freebies are applicable, and I don’t download them all, but I do get caught in the mental dilemma of — “would I use this later?” And I do answer this question with “yes” all too frequently.
So, now in our fourth year of homeschooling, you can only imagine what my hard drive looks like. Organized by subject primarily, I have a LOT of “resources” – yeah, let’s call them resources.
And though some of them I use right away and some have turned me to some great websites that I follow regularly, most sit untouched in my computer folders, or worse, printed out on paper, with color ink, and never used! Urgh!
What’s so bad about downloading a few freebies? You can always delete them.
That’s what I always thought. But can you imagine the time I’ve invested over the years?
The problem really is…I’m addicted! I can’t pass it by – JUST IN CASE! So, in addition to slowing down my computer by overloading the hard drive or wasting paper and ink (and laminating supplies in some cases) I just HAVE to download it. Do you ever feel like this?
Later, I wonder why I haven’t used it. I begin to feel like I don’t do enough. That game the kids would have loved that I didn’t use- would they have learned better, enjoyed it more? I start to feel like I’m either not doing enough or not fun enough. So these “cost-saver” freebies start to chip away at how good I’m feeling about the educational choices we have made.
So, how good are these freebies?
Sometimes you find some great freebies that go along with what you are studying that are an excellent addition to your plans but some are just EXTRA. You have to decide how much time and energy you have for these before you determine whether the freebie is a good for you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at these great freebies.
#1 – Will I really use this freebie?
I have found, after almost 4 years of downloading freebies, that THEY DO COME UP AGAIN. So it probably isn’t imperative that you download them now if you know you aren’t studying it now. It just takes up space and will likely be forgotten anyway.
#2 – Does this freebie correspond with the learning styles of my kids?
If your child is a hands-on learner and the freebie is anything but hands on, then it may not be the freebie for you. Pass it by. Think about the learning styles of your children and then decide whether it’s a good fit.
#3 – Does this freebie go with our homeschool education style?
If you are a Charlotte Mason homeschool and the resource does not go along with the CM philosophy, will you really use it? Consider what benefits the freebie brings and whether or not it will work for you and your homeschool before you download.
#4 – Are we even studying this right now?
This is the most common temptation for downloading a freebie. You may NOT be studying the US capitals right now but you think the resource looks perfect for studying the US capitals. You know that you will EVENTUALLY study them so….do you download it? (refer to #1 above and then decide). It may be a good freebie but will it be the right educational level when you ARE ready for it?
#5 – Do I have the time and resources to put it together, make it, and implement it?
Sometimes the freebie seems great but you have to download it, store it online, print it in color on cardstock, laminate it, cut it apart, and physically store it. Is this reasonable? Do you have the time and resources? Will you actually use it once you put it all together? Make sure you consider these things and the costs associated before you download it.
Free resources can be great though.
Just look around and you will find them in the newsletters of your favorite blogs and websites, on homeschool resource sites, and even on social media. There is not a shortage of resources available. Just be sure to not get yourself sucked into the cycle of downloading and then feeling like you aren’t doing everything you can when you don’t use them.
If you do download them, organize them in a manner that makes them easy to find. Maybe by subject, subject and grade level, things like that so that you can find them when the time comes to use them. Otherwise, you will likely lose them in a sea of files and never be able to find them again.
And remember, if you do download them, don’t feel badly if you don’t get to them. Your kids will be fine without another math game or color sorting file folder game or holiday printable package. But, if you do find one and use it, be sure to thank the site that provided it and be glad you found something that worked well for you and family.
Tawnee is a homeschooling mom of two (and one on the way). She blogs at Adventures in Homeschooling where she shares the adventures she and her family have in their homeschool. She is a baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, military, work-at-home mom who loves spending time learning with the kids and feels blessed to have been called to homeschool. Also visit her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.