Homeschooling Tips for Choosing Teaching Materials

Teaching homeschoolers is a different sort of experience.  You may not need a lot of fancy curriculum, or you may want a structured pre-planned progression of materials and resources.  There are myriad possible directions to go, with everything from unschooling to very academic to Christian-oriented materials.  You must know your child, and proceed with materials that will work for his or her learning style, age, and your goals for their education.  State guidelines may determine what you focus on at each level.  Check your individual state homeschool laws at the state education department website, or get the info from your local school district.

A great resource is a network of homeschoolers who sell used materials and swap information about events and organizations, at their classified website.  There are also many local bookstores, shops, and co-ops that offer used materials.  Then again, you may want brand-new materials.  To check out the various curriculum approaches, you can explore their individual websites.  Oakmeadow is a great natural education philosophy. Calvert is along-established classical approach.  Waldorf is a Rudolph Steiner-based style of dynamic learning.  Rainbow Resources promotes a wide Christian education, and there are many more.  Most of these provide a great deal of help, networking, and flexible packages, even some assistance with costs.

Teaching materials are often right under your nose.  The home provides an incredible stockpile of excellent teaching materials, right in the kitchen, the shop, the backyard, the neighborhood, the community.  You need only to learn to apply the lessons to your own environment.  Measuring devices of any kind can be used to teach math, tools of any kind can relate to basic physics and science,  cleaners and foods can be used to create chemistry lessons.  Nature is a huge, free resource for materials, especially if you have even a small backyard, but also in pots or flowerboxes.  Local newspapers will often sell you the end-rolls of newsprint, a cheap and abundant drawing paper source.

The community provides tremendous resources for teaching materials.  Check your local library first, for books, videos, DVDs,programs, etc. but also inquire at the local power company, industries, fire hall, waterworks, hospitals, churches and synagogues.  Most of these places have educational printed materials free for the asking, and many are happy to give tours or programs to homeschool  groups.  The state and national governments provide quite a lot of brochures and printed material that are excellent for geography and government or political studies.  Visit your capital building and/or website, and check out the national website for freebies.  These places are wonderful for everything from maps to government historical documents to consumer information.

Many printables are available on your computer, and through recommendations by homeschool organizations.  You will be amazed what you can find on the basic computer programs like Microsoft Office or Appleworks, from calendars to formats for term papers and self-published projects.

If you live near a college, these institutions have many lectures, art exhibits, library resources and programs, and even planetariums, botanical gardens, or laboratories available to the public.  Once again, there are programs for groups or access for individuals.  Check out apprenticeship possibilities or technical “shadowing” programs with local businesses or utilities.  Your local Chamber of Commerce may have this information, or just call the place of interest.  Fish hatcheries, Nature Conservancies and State Parks are another fascinating and plentiful place to learn and to pick up materials, as are art galleries or museums.  Non-profits will love having volunteers, and this can count as credit, along with the materials they provide for training.  Follow your students’ interests.

Homeschooling should not be restricted to just the home, unless there is a physical handicap that prevents access to travel, but even with that type of drawback, the internet has opened the door to the entire world via your fingertips.  Enjoy the great exploration of knowledge that is homeschooling.  There simply are no limits.