Quick Tips for Saving $ on Next Year’s School Books

Trying to stretch your homeschool budget? Here are a few quick tips to help you think creatively and save money on next year’s homeschool books.

1. Spend some time researching what books/curriculum you need and prepare a list. It’s hard to catch a bargain if you are not sure what books you want or need. If you are not settled on the specific books, then make a list of the subjects or unit study themes you plan to work on so you can still bargain hunt efficiently.

2. Do you know another homeschooling family with children at different levels than yours? Approach them with the ideaJar of Money of swapping or borrowing books for the year. Doesn’t matter if they live five states away- media mail is still fairly inexpensive. You will have to be clear with your swap or trade partners on when you may need the book returned or how you want to deal with consumable materials. Making sure swapped books are labeled and covered for protection is also a good idea.

3. Used bookstores – take some time to browse the used bookstores in your area or the nearest big city. You may be surprised to find the books you are looking for on their shelves. Be sure to let the store know what you are looking for, they may have ways to source the books you need inexpensively. If the bookstore also buys books, bring your old books in- you may be able to earn enough in cash or store credit to get the books you need with no out-of-pocket funds.

4. Public Library- have you shared your book-list with the children’s librarian at your public library? Librarians are always making book purchases, why not see if the library will add the biographies or reference books or videos you are interested in to their collection? Doesn’t cost to ask, and it could save you money!

5. Private libraries – Ask the avid readers in your church, your relatives and non-homeschooling friends. Do they have any interesting books on planets or the biography of an explorer on their shelves? Share your book-list with friends – you might be pleasantly surprised to find what you are looking for on the shelf of a friend.

Green apple on books6. Check around online for free e-books and websites. You may not need to purchase a specific book at all- you may be able to collect what you need for free online. There are lots of homeschooling-for-free websites that can assist you. It does take a bit of time and organization to collect online resources, but time and organization don’t cost a dime. To save time, make your search terms more specific, rather than general.

7. AHE Swap – Are you a member of the AHE list? Then you can join the AHE Swap and put the word out for the books you are looking to buy. The families on the AHE Swap list may have just what you need. List a few books of your own and earn some extra book money at the same time.

Do you have an additional quick tip on how to acquire school books inexpensively? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Jump Start Your Nature Studies

Are you just starting out with nature study or trying to revive flagging interest?  Here are a few ideas to jump start nature study activities with your family:

1. Set out a bird feeder.  It is winter in North America and this is a perfect time to set out a feeder and attract hungry birds.   If you place your bird feeder in view of a window, you can enjoy your new feathered friends from the comfort of indoors.  Don’t forget to also pick up a bird identification book at the library.

nature study with binoculars
A pair of binoculars can awaken a child’s interest in nature.

2.  Start a collection.  Leaves, rocks, seeds, pressed flowers, shells, the list is endless.  Young children especially love to fill an empty egg carton with their treasures.

3.  Get new lenses.   A sturdy magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars will entice your children to observe the world around them more closely.   How about an inexpensive camera to give you insight into how your children view the world around them?

4.   Add to your library.   New field guides and nature themed books with bright photos and colorful illustrations are sure to catch the attention of your children.  Our family loves the Smithsonian Handbooks series.

paints for nature drawing
Is your child artistic? Let him/her express their nature learning with art.

5.  Appeal to the arts.   If your children are artistic, a new pad of paper and a set of paints or watercolor pencils will delight them as they capture the line on a leaf or the wing of a bird.

You can find more nature study inspiration under our blog’s nature study category.

Keys To Homeschooling Success ~ Key Five

Keys to SuccessGive your homeschooling to God

Please don’t dismiss this last key as a trite phrase. Turning over our homeschooling to God is the most important key when it comes to homeschooling success. It goes without saying that as Seventh-day Adventist homeschoolers, we want to give our children a solid Christian education, however choosing an evolution-refuting science book is not enough. Giving every aspect of our homeschooling to God has to be a deliberate decision. Allowing God to be the superintendent over your family’s school must be a conscious choice. God desires to give us divine guidance in our efforts to educate our children, but sometimes in the excitement of organizing a learning space and ordering materials, we forget to put Him at the center of our planning. Present your budget for materials, the support system you need, even the disapproving family members to God. Spend some staff development time with our Creator becoming the teacher He wants you to be. God wants to bless your homeschool. Let Him.



Keys to Homeschooling Success ~ Key Four

Abandon the Island

The famous John Donne quote says, “No man is an island…” That is true of homeschooling as well. We need the fellowship of other homeschoolers for the exchange of ideas, for gentle Tropical island, Thailandredirection when we get off-balance and for encouragement. If you are the only homeschooler in your church/area or are facing disapproval from family and friends, it is especially important to make the effort to build a support system. Online homeschool email groups or message boards, homeschooling social media sites, local co-ops or classes are just a few of the places to actively seek out people who can encourage and advise. Your support system might be even be a non-homeschooling friend who is willing to listen over a bowl of soup. If you are more of an introvert and joining a physical group seems overwhelming, try the online support group route. You can stay fairly anonymous and “lurk” until you are ready to join the conversation. Finding your best support group fit might require exploring more than a few options but it will be worth the effort.

Are you a veteran homeschooler? There are so many new families that would love to be tuckedKeys to Success under your wing for a bit of mentoring and guidance! Reach out those just starting out with a kind word, a brief phone call or simple email. Doesn’t have to be anything time-consuming or overwhelming. The year of my youngest son’s cancer diagnosis became so difficult that we ended up starting over again in the middle of the school year. I was very discouraged, partly from holding myself to unreasonable standards that I could not maintain in a crisis situation. A very dear veteran homeschool mom gave me just a few words of encouragement that bolstered my spirits to be able to face the remainder of the school year with new courage.

Keys to Homeschooling Success ~ Key Three

Give Yourself an Out

Keys to SuccessDon’t paint yourself into a corner with an overly strict schedule/routine. Building too tight of a schedule is a recipe for disappointment when the unexpected gets in the way. Lack of breathing room will also increase the chances of early burnout and decrease the chances of spontaneous teachable moments. Plan a little flex-time into your program. Sooner or later, you will need that extra time.

When I am making my lesson plans, I often leave a week open every six weeks or so for catching up or reorganizing if needed. Alternately, I will leave one math assignment open this week, a grammar lesson open the next, and science module open the third week. If we need that unscheduled time for catching up or re-teaching, the time is available. If it is not needed, we just keep moving. Think of the open time slot as a safety release valve. If you need a day off to regroup or catch up on the laundry- just consider it ‘staff -development’ time.

Keys to Homeschooling Success ~ Key Two

Be Prepared to Un-Learn, Reevaluate and Think Outside the Box


Just because you have always ‘done school’ in a particular way does not mean it should stay that way forever. Be careful of falling into a homeschooling rut simply because you refuse to un-learn old habits. Being open to change can help you to avoid burnout. Year-round homeschooling worked well for my family for several years, and then suddenly it was a struggle. Instead of fighting it, we chose to adjust our school calendar and are much happier and productive as a result. Just as a tasty new curry recipe adds fresh life to your menu rotation, a new way of doing school may add fresh life to your homeschool program.

As your family grows and changes, it is important to revisit your goals, strategies and curriculum to make sure you are meeting the needs of your children in the best way possible. Sometimes a particular curriculum works well for younger children, but loses its effectiveness with older learners. We parents may have strong opinions about the materials our children are using, but have we asked our children to share their thoughtful evaluations? If its not broken, there’s no need to fix it, but at the same time there is no harm in re-evaluating what you do to find new ways to learn. It may be helpful to include an evaluation time in your calendar at regular intervals to specifically discuss with your family how to make your homeschool the best it can be.

The best learning opportunities don’t always come in a textbook. Look for ways to learn

Keys to Success

something new away from home. Botany can be studied by joining a gardening club. Sign up for a plein-air watercolor class as a way of learning nature journaling. Why not take a chance and move outside of your comfort zone? Try something new. You might discover birdwatching or stargazing or geo-cacheing to be not only educational, but truly enjoyable. Perhaps you never thought you would do a literature-based unit study or try a computer-based curriculum. Give it a try, you might like it! Check with your family members, friends or fellow church members who might jump at the chance to teach your family something new. Don’t make changes solely to keep up with the homeschooling Joneses, but to move yourself and your children to new heights.

Did you miss the first key to homeschooling success? Check out our blog’s recent posts.

Keys To Homeschooling Success ~ Key One

Join us each Tuesday this month as we share 5 keys to having a successful homeschooling year. We pray that these posts will both encourage and inspire as you endeavor to educate your children this school year.

Keys to SuccessFind Your Fit

It is easy to look at what other families are doing and get discouraged. Does your friend create fabulous in-depth unit studies for her children that leave you feeling envious? That’s okay, she is not making the adjustment to caring for an elderly parent in your home like you are. Go ahead and purchase the unit study kit you’ve had your eye on and enjoy using it. It really is okay if you never ever write your own curriculum or make a lapbook!

I remember a mom who proudly announced that she never used workbooks – as if workbooks were the lowest form of education. I had just bought a stack of workbooks for my 4th grader and it was very hard not to take her statement personally. I had to remind myself that her conviction was for HER household. I had a newborn baby and was doing what I could handle at the time. If your child is excited at thought of a new workbook, then go ahead and give your child a reason to smile. Don’t forget some new colored pencils to go with the new workbook!

Your household structure, your child’s learning style, the support systems in your area and other factors will all combine to create a your family’s unique homeschool. Prayerfully work towards doing what is best for YOUR family. If you are a square peg, don’t try to fit in a round homeschooling hole.