Tips on Buying a Pre-Packaged Homeschool Curriculum

A self-contained homeschool curriculum sounds so appealing to many parents, but there are many things to consider before deciding to go this route.

Quite often a complete and pre-packaged homeschool curriculum is also “one size fits all.” Also, keep in mind that most likely one of the reasons that you are homeschooling your child is to provide a more individualized education program to fit you child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Important Points to Consider When Picking Homeschool Curriculum

  • Determine your child’s learning style. This may be a combination of learning styles. Does your child seem to enjoy looking at books to get information or is he too fidgety and needs a more hands-on approach?
  • Budget plays an important part for most parents when choosing a homeschool curriculum. Quite often you will buy things that you didn’t really need or end up not liking (been there done that), so don’t overspend. You can always add to it throughout the school year if you forgot something.
  • Carefully determine the amount of time your can realistically devote to actual teaching. Sometimes a pre-packaged homeschool curriculum can be quite burdensome. Ask to see sample teaching plans and look through some of the individual lessons.
  • Don’t forget to keep your teaching style in mind. I found out through trial and error that I absolutely hated certain programs because of the way they were laid out. For instance, some people can get distracted or overwhelmed (myself included) by books that are loaded with activities, exercise and experiments to do. You might prefer a more simple layout.

Not all Self-contained curriculum packages are created equal

There are several different schools of thought when it comes to teaching approaches. A self-contained homeschool curriculum like Abeka or Calvert are text-book based and, except for the Christian content, are similar to a public school approach. Then there is the literature-based approach such as Sonlight provides. They offer a self-contained homeschool curriculum but some parents find the reading schedules hard to follow.

Another pre-packaged homeschool curriculum option would be a computer-based program such as Switched On Schoolhouse. The whole curriculum is on cd-roms and it is self-grading, so it could be a good option for the very busy homeschooling parent. The options available to a homeschool parent today are endless. Just remember to do your research and make sure that your choice of homeschool curriculum is a good fit for your child’s personality, your teaching style and the amount of time you have to teach.

It is also a good idea to try and remember the main reasons why you wanted to homeschool your child in the first place. This can be a very important rule to follow when deciding if a pre-packaged homeschool curriculum is right for you and your family.

How and Where to Buy Used Homeschool Curriculum

With the current economic condition, frugality is the new norm. Many families with homeschooled children try to save money by looking for good deals on used homeschool curriculum. Keep in mind that when it comes to used books and manuals, the lowest prices are not necessarily the best options.

Before deciding to buy used homeschool curriculum, check the condition of the materials. Books and manuals are usually classified as new, like new, very good, good or acceptable. Ask for clarification when homeschool curriculum is classified as “very good” or lower classification. This could mean that the book has a damaged book jacket, marking, wear and tear, etc. Workbooks are consumables and they should be indicated as unused or with some pages marked.

It’s also a good idea to determine if the textbook is an old edition or a new version. Current editions command higher prices. From time to time new supplemental resources are developed and published, so it is better to purchase the current edition especially if the textbook will be used on online classes or in conjunction with an updated instructional DVD.

If your goal is to buy used homeschool curriculum at the lowest price, an older edition may be acceptable. The latest edition may contain minor updates, but if your budget is tight these updates may not be worth the higher price of the newest version. You can check the publisher information to find out exactly what changes were made in the new edition.

A little research can help you locate places where used homeschool curriculum for the school year can be purchased. One of the best places is the used curriculum area at homeschool conventions. This is where convention attendees sell books they no longer need. Prices are usually low and you will find a lot of choices.

If your area has a homeschool support group, they may hold used curriculum sales from time to time. The inventory may not be extensive, but you will be able to network with other homeschooling families

Don’t forget to check out online homeschool curriculum bargains. You can easily search for specific titles, author and edition. You may even post a list of the books you need to buy. Include Amazon, Craigslist and Freecycle in your search.

When shopping for used homeschool curriculum, be sure to check the condition of the books first. Take a few precautions to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

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