Sure, the internet can be a great resource for homeschool lesson plans, tips and tricks, and more. But, a major part of the homeschool experience is making sure your children are an active part of getting what they need. After all, one of the main benefits of homeschooling is the ability to greatly personalize your child’s educational experience. So, read on for where to find the best homeschooling supplies.
Your Local Bookstore Can Be Your Homeschool Store
The first thing many homeschool parents will do is to type amazon.com into their browser. This is not a bad thing. After all, many communities no longer have a local bookstore anymore. But, there are other options besides Amazon, and you’d be surprised to hear some of them are less expensive.
Now, if you do have a local bookstore, it’s one of the best homeschool resources you can have. You may have a used bookstore. That works, too. In fact, if you don’t have a new or used bookstore nearby, you can even browse the books of your local thrift store. They usually have a lot, because they don’t typically sell that well. Thrift stores even have textbooks sometimes, so just be sure they’re fairly recent - teaching with out-of-date books is counterproductive, and yes, some public schools still do.
Whatever store you have that sells books of any kind (yes, even if it’s just the limited bookshelf at Walmart) arm yourself with a list of books to buy that fit with your homeschool curriculum. Turn it into a sort of a scavenger hunt. Of course, you have to be flexible. If you are lucky enough to have a larger bookstore in your area, there will be plenty of options to choose from - if you don’t mind paying full retail price.
Even living in a major metro area with several big-chain bookstores, I would still go the used bookstore, thrift store, and big box store route. Part of the fun of getting books is having a list of what you need but having fun and learning to be flexible. Also, used books are going to save you a lot of money and your kids get to be part of the process, which serves as its own homeschool lesson.
Of course, if you have a big chain like Barnes and Noble and they’re having a good sale, it’s a great place to round things out. You can always use Amazon for what you can’t find and need to cover - or even eBay. But, the more involved your child is in the book selection and buying process, the better.
The Magazine Rack Can Be a Great Homeschool Resource
Magazines are an old school way to find homeschool resources, but yes, they do still exist. I don’t recommend paying full retail price, because some companies practically give magazine subscriptions away these days. People also will post boxes of old magazines on classified sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Thrift stores and used bookstores practically give them away, too.
Not only do magazines offer great reading material and exciting photography to stimulate your kids’ learning, but they also serve another purpose. Magazines are perfect material for arts and crafts projects, scrapbooks, poster boards, and more. The magazines you get should be on topics your kids actually enjoy.
Be sure to ask your family and friends if they have old magazines laying around they don’t want. At the very least you’ll have some material arts and crafts projects and save some money in the process. The best magazines for homeschool is a topic I plan to cover in a future article.
The Internet is the Most Obvious Homeschool Resource
Of course, with the internet, there are many websites offering help with supplementing or even creating your curriculum. You can find a lot of it for free through simple searches, and there are plenty of homeschool blogs out there with plenty of links and resources. Not everything online is free, though, especially if you’re looking for curriculum.
But while the Internet is an obvious homeschool resource, it can also be overwhelming and confusing. Plus, as I already mentioned, a lot of it isn’t free. Years ago, you could find a lot more for free, but a lot of the best homeschool resources are now stuck behind a paywall. Personally, I wouldn’t pay for very many of them, although there are a couple that I do like that are well worth your money. I’ll get to these another time.
In general, if you find something that requires a subscription, do your homework on the company. See if other homeschool parents have a lot of nice things to say about it. Of course, there are some shady companies out there that offer “free trials” but will later charge you if you cancel anyway. So, don’t pay for anything until you do your research.
The Public Library is a Homeschool Parent’s Best Friend
You can get more value out of a library card than ever. Of course, they have the books and references that your kids can take home and use as long as they return them by the due date. Libraries also have videos and educational CD’s. But, some libraries now also have streaming services, so just by signing in with your library card, you can gain access to a lot of the library’s resources - including many of those same videos, audiobooks, and even ebooks - from home for free.
Libraries also have computers with educational software on them. These computers are often going to be always in use in busier areas. Again, though, some of these resources become available to you online through the use of your library card - but it depends on where you live.
The other plus about libraries is the events designed especially for kids. Even smaller libraries in rural areas will have events like these. These include story time, book discussions, and more. Book discussions are especially useful for homeschooled kids as they not only help your child learn to read, but also help develop critical thinking skills.
Teach Alongside Other Homeschool Parents
Some homeschool parents will invite other homeschoolers to join them at their house and teach everyone together. Not everyone likes to do this, as teaching styles can be vastly different when it comes to homeschool. Of course, experiencing a different way of doing things can be good for both you and the kids. You can also offer to do this yourself if you feel comfortable doing so.
The other good thing about connecting with other local homeschoolers is many of them are happy to either loan or give you used materials that they no longer need for their own children. Homeschool parents are often happy to just pass on materials rather than let them sit around or be donated to a thrift store where they may not be found for a long time. Outside of the occasional textbook, homeschool materials don’t resell well. So, you save money, and other parents get satisfaction from passing it on to other kids.
A Trip to the Museum is Actually Underrated for Homeschool
Not everyone lives in an urban area - as we do - where there are lots of choices for museums. Some parents think that museums will just bore their kids. Of course, there are childrens’ museums and exhibits at many other kinds of museums such as art and science museums made just for kids. Again, not everyone has easy access to these, but if you can manage a trip once in a while, it can be very rewarding, especially for homeschoolers.
Trips to the museum do more than just help your kids appreciate art, history, science, and more. Because you are homeschooling, your kids can choose what exhibits to spend the most time with, whereas on a school trip you basically have to follow the crowd. Of course, the preferred way for many people to go to museums is to join group tours. I find most children get bored this way and their attention will wander.
If your kids are willing to be patient and pay attention to the guide, great, but I find this to not be the case. My experience is that you let the kids spend the most time with what interests them most rather than force them to try to take in everything. Many museums are huge and can be very overwhelming. Of course, there are local history and topical museums, too, and these tend to be easier for kids, since there’s a lot less to take in.
Your Everyday Errands Are a Great Homeschool Learning Opportunity
You may not think that trip to the gas station, post office, and supermarket are an opportunity to learn, but they are. At the gas station, you have the opportunity to teach about gas prices, how much gas your vehicle needs, and more. The post office can teach about what it costs to ship items and all about how mailing, packaging, and shipping work.
The grocery store is a perfect learning opportunity. You can teach kids about unit prices, how to identify good deals, how to shop sales, how to plan meals, how to budget… the list is almost endless. You can make a fun lesson out of any shopping trip, but grocery shopping offers some of the most valuable real-life lessons.
Find Homeschool Lessons In and Around the Home
Of course, one of the best resources for homeschooling is your own home. The trick is to find activities that don’t feel like lessons. It could be as simple as baking some corn muffins - there’s math involved with measurements and science in the actual baking. If you prepare yourself and drop little lessons during the process, it won’t feel like a lesson. Maybe you’ll plant a small garden in your yard. It’s a great little science project, not only teaching your kids about plant life, but also the responsibility of caring for those plants.
The most important part of homeschool in and around the home is to watch what interests your child the most. You’ll want to weave these subjects your kid already likes into your daily lessons. Almost anything can be turned into something educational that teaches reading comprehension, critical thinking skills, math, science, or social studies. Keep it fun, but make sure your kid learns something.
Are there any other places you would suggest to find homeschool resources? If you’ve never homeschooled before, do you remember anything that worked well for you in school? If you already homeschool, we’d love to hear about cool and unique things you’ve found that work well with your kids!