Homeschoolers Secrets to Using the Library...Shhhh

Homeschoolers quickly become experts at using their local library to its fullest potential. A great library can be one of the most important tools for a homeschooler. Often you'll see them come in with a laundry basket or bags full of books to return and pick up another pile of  books from the hold section, then they are out the door in a matter of minutes. With that amount of use, they're bound to know some good tips.

Check to see if your local library offers anything from the list below, if they don't, it never hurts to ask. As homeschooling grows, the library system may be looking for ways to improve service to homeschoolers as they realize what valuable customers they can be.
  1. Ask about getting an Educator/Teacher card.  This could give you an extended check-out time, doubling it in most cases.
  2. Request and have them waiting for you on a hold shelf. This is especially helpful if you live in a library district with more than one library. You will be able to see the full selection and choose from there rather than just the library closest to you. The library will transfer the book you requested to your library, so you can pick it up there. 
  3. Download audiobooks and ebooks. If you need a book quick, check to see if there is an ebook available. These are downloadable and usually come with a time limit for use. This means, once your checkout time has expired, you will no longer be able to open the document. Most libraries install a program called Overdrive, that will keep track of your downloads. 
  4. Curriculum Research - If you are undecided between curriculum, check your library before purchasing. It should have most of the history encyclopedias, Kingfisher, Usborne and Story of the World.  Maybe you want to try out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons or Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading? Check it out first and see what will work for you first.
  5. Supplementing Curriculum - It's not uncommon to see a huge reading list from a curriculum provider. Check the library first and see what they have. You can avoid a big book bill and maybe even find additional supplemental material to use. 
  6. Library Classes - Everything from poetry to crafts to computer classes. Check your library's event calendar for times and locations. Most require a pre-registration or to show up 30 minutes ahead, so check out the details. 
  7. Storytime - Give yourself a break and have someone else read a story to them. There are usually multiple age groups, times and days to choose from. The library will give you the title or theme ahead of time. Arrive early since these events usually fill up fast.
  8. Library Book Sales - Most libraries have sales twice at least twice a year and sell books for bargain prices. Many also have a permanent section of for sale books where you'll find a goldmine of books. 
  9. Book Requests - If you really want a book your library doesn't have, you can request it. It's worth a shot if it's a book you think will be a great addition to the library and better than purchasing it yourself. 
  10. Co-op Space - If you have a group that regularly meets, ask if you can use their meeting room. Perfect if you don't want to worry about cleaning or prefer to meet in neutral places.
  11. Homeschool Classes - Libraries are noticing the growth and potential of homeschooling and have begun to add a class to introduce you to everything your library has to offer. They also may provide a year-long class series with one topic, sign language for example, that is perfect for homeschoolers. 

Things you may want to check out from your own library:
  • The Great Courses - College professors recorded their lectures to share with you at home. If you have an advanced or gifted student, a child who is in love with a certain subject and has read everything they can get their hands on or just to mix things up a bit, these can be helpful. There are also cd lectures that would be great for long car trips. 
  • Encyclopedias - A great resource for any homeschool
  • DK Eyewitness Books with clip art cd if possible. They have hundreds of subjects that would fit into just about any curriculum. The picture and caption style make it fun to read while not feeling overbearing. The clip art cd's are great for those that need clip art for timelines or reports. 
  • Leveled Readers - There's a huge variety of leveled readers for any interest. From Little Bear to Star Wars to Junie B. Jones and more. These books will build vocabulary and build confidence to encourage more reading. 
  • Books with a CD - Sometimes just sitting and listening to someone else read while they follow along is enough to peak interest and build skill. Plus, it's a nice break for mom. :)
  • DVDs and Music CD's - There's a lot of preschool/K kids music albums and videos out there. Why spend the money on them, only to discover your kids really don't like to hear other kids sing? Check out the multitude of media available, you're sure to find something you like. 
  • Audiobooks - Going on a trip? Running errands in the car all day with the kids? Give them something educational to listen to and keep them quietly entertained. You can use audiobooks in your car's stereo system or individual mp3 players for each child to create a custom level of education. It's a great way to catch up on some reading they wouldn't otherwise get around to. 
For inspiration check out my Book List post to find books by subject or level.

Feel free to add your own favorite library tips in the comments section below.

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I have been homeschooling since 2009, but have been reading about it since 2003. Homeschooling is rapidly growing. Whether you are a veteran or new to homeschooling, I hope to filter some of the vast amounts of information for you


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