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Friday, November 7, 2008

Taco Bell and FREE Stuff

Sadly, I can not offer you free Taco Bell. If I could, I would, because I do love me some Taco Bell. However, in my blog browsing today, I learned that if I went to Mexico again it is possible to get a #3 south of the border.

Moving on...

I love useful free stuff. I use many useful free programs. I have no problems with quality free stuff. I'm all for it. In fact, I've got several lists of such programs.

But it boggles my mind how people rave about the "free curriculum" that is out there on the web. And it bothers me when they claim that these resources are a free alternative to Sonlight.

I don't have a problem with the "alternative to Sonlight" part. There are many other companies out there that are reasonable alternatives to Sonlight (but, I maintain, Sonlight is the best <smile>).

I have a problem when people claim that something is a "free" alternative, when, in reality, it isn't free at all. I'm not going to point any browser fingers, but I've visited several "free curriculum" sites that are nothing more than a book list and perhaps a schedule.

What? That's not free. You still have to buy the books! In fact, it's likely more expensive than Sonlight and does not come with the support or guarantee that Sonlight offers. Yet people keep proclaiming it as a free alternative.

<shakes head>

I am the king of Open Source software. I love getting freebies. But because I'm so into really free options, it bugs me when people talk about "free" stuff that isn't free in the least.

It may be time for Sonlight to do another cost comparison, but Judy did one a few years ago with some pretty impressive results. Find out more on the Price and Shopping Comparision page.

And if you're looking for a free alternative to a program you're using, just ask. I may be able to shoot you a link to a completely legitimate, absolutely viable option <smile>.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Well, I've heard of plenty of people who do their own curriculum prep as well, but I like the convenience of teacher manuals and buying kits. That's mostly because I'm the type of person who ALWAYS forgets to buy just one thing for a recipe. You don't want to play that game with your kid's education.

BTW, you can also figure out the hard way if you do your own worksheets that printer ink is expensive. :]

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Craig and Heather said...

We used one of the Sonlight Core sets a few years ago and I loved it for its history/literature base. And sinceone purchase can span several grade levels, and the books are a great family library addition I feel the money was well spent. It is also wonderful that it is so adaptable to various teaching/learning styles.

My ONLY complaint is that I have a rather obsessive personality and found all the "helpful teaching suggestions" to be overwhelming. I know it says right in the material that they are only suggestions, but I always felt that if I didn't do ALL of them, we would be missing something important. It created a lot of stress. So, I havent been able to reorder. But I don't see this as a flaw in the program--just personal weirdness. Hoping one day to have that mastered, though as I would otherwise go back in a heartbeat.

Meg_L said...

If you are talking a book list of hard-to-find titles; then yes, that's not free.

But if it's a list of tradebooks that most libraries will carry, then I have no problem claiming that as a free curriculum.

Now for a lot of people the hassle of making sure to get the books from the library in a timely matter will offset the cost of having your own set, but that's a personal organizational issue.

Of course, not knowing to what you are referencing, I'm shooting in the dark.

mary grace said...

I had a really good comment to your post, but I am protesting and not posting it.

O.k., the truth is I am just pouting because you didn't pick me to review Mathtacular through the TOS Crew. Man, I WANT THOSE VIDEOS!!!!

Don't worry. I'll get over it.


mary grace said...

O.k., tell me that you got a giggle out of my posting that in response to a "free stuff" post. :-) I'm thinking your sense of humor is pretty similar to mine, but hey ... you can never tell on the internet!

6intow said...

While I think Sonlight is a wonderful curriculum and I even recommend it to people, the cost was one of the big factors in my moving away from it. As "craig and heather" mentioned, I did also struggle with my own obsession with doing EVERYTHING, but I agree that was my issue, not Sonlight's.

I also did not buy the whole core. I looked at my library and got as many of my books through there as I could. The books that I did buy have been great additions to our home library, and while I no longer Sonlight, we love having the books around.

Now, I use one of those "free" curriculums. You are right, they are missing the great guides, and we have had to buy about 2-3 books each year that I cannot find in print online or at the library. But, that only ran me less than $50 (which, of course, I had an old gift card to use, and coupon codes to enter, and it worked out to almost free).

So, all that to say, that sometimes 'free' does work out pretty well, most likely not completely free though. I know I am fortunate to have an amazing library system that can get me almost anything and let me keep it for quite a while. We also use the internet extensively to add to our conversations and keep the flow of education going even after the "lesson" is over. And, the investigation is definitely part of the lesson as well.

I appreciate your blog and Sonlight, but wanted to share my thoughts from the other side of the fence. :-)


Aubrey said...

Have not used a core (yet), but have ordered some things and loved them! But really I had to comment and say thanks a lot for mentioning Taco Bell, now the baby in my belly wants a taco!

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Amico Dio said...

Well, I am completely smitten with the thought of owning Sonlight and it is my goal for next year but I have to say that the cost is one thing that is holding me back and causing me a bit of stress. Not because I don't think it is worth it but because we simply don't have that kind of money. I've never spent more than $500 in a year for homeschool items for all three of my boys. My husband's jaw dropped when I told him how much it would cost for all three and that was just the cost of one core to split between two of them and the readers for the other. That also included math, science, and language arts.

While I believe it is totally worth it, (opinion based on recommendations by moms I trust and information in catalog) I think that for some of us there is no other option but to look for other ways of acquiring the books needed for each core even if it means losing the benefits that Sonight offers. And the benefits are excellent!

I absolutely agree with the train of thought that it is best to have the books on hand verses using the library. I also agree that it is better to buy it all from Sonlight instead of having to spend so much time comparison shopping and such. But, on the other hand, time is something I do have. Money is not.

I will most likely only be able to save enough to purchase some of what I need and then I'll just try to find the rest of the books at thrift stores and I have found a couple so far. I don't see it as saving money but rather finding what I can for the amount of money I do have and lately that isn't much. My husband works two jobs and I do what I can on the side but times are tough right now and with outrageous medical & learning/sight therapy (for Gevan) bills, house notes, and the fact that we live in a state that doesn't offer much of a competitive pay scale, money is just not abundant right now.

Prayerfully, things will begin to look up in the finances department and I'll be able to to have the "it was like Christmas" feeling when the Sonlight boxes arrive. If not, then I'll just do what I can to implement the philosophy of Sonlight and give my children the best that we can afford. But for the record, I would rather purchase it all from Sonlight. My choice is based on not having any other choice.

Julie said...

all I can say is, i guess I'm so lazy I'd rather let someone else do the work. I consider repeated trips to the library work. I have never been able to run in and out...every trip lasts a long time...therefore...lost time. My husband is always at work, so I always have the boys w/me. I'd pay any amount to have everything sent to me in a couple huge boxes w/castles on the inside!!! I do not stress at all that my kids are not getting enough, because I experience almost daily how their depth and level of knowledge greatly surpasses any child in ps. I also know I don't work near as hard planning as other hs mothers...yea IGs!! Being a seminary student...I don't have much time free to plan etc. I've never read a "bad" book from SL and have no plans for changing!!!
Julie (sez Julie as she gracefully descends from her soap box...*grin*)

Luke Holzmann said...

Wow! I did not expect such incredible responses. Beautiful!

Mrs. C, ink is so expensive. I hear you!

Sarah, I look forward to cheering with you on your first Box Day <smile>.

Heather, I have heard from several people who are overwhelmed by aspects of Sonlight, and Sonlight isn't for everyone. Did you try blacking out the extra notes? <smile> May your current system be a great fit for you!

Meg, it is possible to not have to shell out money for books. You are right. I was referring to sites that just list books. I know there are free options, and I know many people find them helpful <smile>.

Mary Grace, you crack me up! I want to send you a copy of the DVD just for making me laugh that hard <smile>.

Erin, I'm very glad you shared your thoughts! And I'm glad you have found a system that works for you and your family. Thanks for giving me a glimpse from the other side <smile>.

Aubrey, anything I can do to help that kid start life on the right culinary foot... <grin>

Kate, that's hilarious! I knew Taco Bell wasn't at the top of the food chain, but I didn't know that <laughing>. Good stuff... even if it isn't Good Eats.

Amy, I do realize that Sonlight can't be a reality for some people. And that does make me said. ...I wish I had helpful words to say at this point, but I don't. Hang in there, and may God bless you as He sees fit!

Julie, I liked hearing from your soap box, but you're preaching to the choir <laughing>.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, everyone! I love the discussion and varied view points. Love it.



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Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
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