Even if you have narrowed down your wish list of homeschool resources according to your philosophy, children’s learning styles, and content, you most likely will still have a number of options available to choose.
I am going to share some tricks you can use to help you find the best homeschool resources out there without having to do a huge amount of research, comparison, and spending.
Ask fellow homeschoolers
The easiest step you can take is to just ask other homeschool friends if they have a preference for a program or curriculum. Ask them what worked for them, and what didn’t.
You will have to keep in mind that no one particular resource works for every family, but you can gain a better perspective about what is popular and why.
Ask questions that will help you understand what the resource contains, how it works, what prep work is needed, etc.
If someone has had a bad experience with a particular book or supplement, find out why it didn’t fit with their family.
Whether you ask online or in person, other homeschoolers are great at giving tips on where to find what you are looking for. You might even find a resource that you never would have heard about otherwise!
Just remember that you are not obligated to use what they suggest or have the same opinion about a resource.
Try it before you buy it
Wouldn’t it be great if we could try every product before we put our hard-earned money into it? The reason you test drive a car is to make sure that you are going to buy a vehicle that you enjoy, that runs well, and that fits your needs.
Testing out curriculum accomplishes the same purposes.
Scope out curriculum fairs
The reason why thousands of homeschooling parents attend curriculum fairs and homeschool conventions is so that they can get a hands-on look at some of the most popular products on the market.
Even if you just attend a used curriculum sale, you can flip through the books and test drive the products that other families have used. You might even get to ask them a few questions as to whether they enjoyed it or not!
When browsing the options, keep mental notes of your first impression of the resource. Ask yourselves some questions:
- Did the product seem complicated? simple? Could you see yourself using it?
- Was it visually interesting? Did it have manipulatives, supplements, various ways to explore the information?
- Is it in your price range? Could you justify the purchase?
- Do your kids find it appealing? (I always have my kids there to share their opinion on a product)
Borrow from a friend
When there are no curriculum expos or sales in your area, or you are shopping in the off-season, you may still be able to preview a resource.
Ask around at your homeschool co-op or other friends and see if they have the curriculum you are interested in. Many times homeschool parents are willing to allow you to borrow their resources over the summer, or when they are not using them.
If you find the product appealing, then please make your own purchase. Or you can offer to buy it from your friend if they are no longer in need of it. Making copies is a violation of the law, so you should refrain from misusing a friendly gesture.
Find free versions
On The Internet
If you didn’t know it already, many homeschoolers and education companies offer free resources online that match the quality of expensive products.
Being internet savvy is helpful for finding these free resources, but if you know where to start then a lot of the work has been done for you.
A couple places to look:
- Stone Soup Homeschool
- Freely Educate
- Homeschool Commons
- Homeschool Freebie of the Day
- Free Homeschool Deals
The Local Libarary
The library probably won’t have some of the major homeschooling publishers available for you to check out- but they do have educational resources for teachers and parents.
You might be surprised at what you can find at your local library. Through the years, I have been able to request phonics programs, educational packages with manipulatives and lesson plans, and much more. It never hurts to ask what they have for a specific topic.
The inter-library loan system, if your state has one, is an even greater resource. It allows you to ask for items that are at any other participating library in your state or area and have it delivered to your library. Many of the books I need for unit studies are requested this way, from larger libraries that have more selection.
Make friends with your librarian. They can help you find the resources you need and help you put together unit studies and lesson plans.
What are some ways you have been able to find and choose resources?
Are there any particular resources you are looking for?
Article by Aadel Bussinger
Aadel has been married to her career Army man for 13 years and they have 2 daughters and a freshly made son. She is a homeschooling mom, volunteer, and online college student. Her hobbies include cooking, organic gardening, sewing, and crocheting. She blogs about their military, unschooling life at These Temporary Tents.
Aadel has written 86 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.