Curriculum Quick Picks

quick picks

I am always running across products I think are worth sharing.  These are either brand new, or just new to me.  Or, sometimes, they’re names I neglected to include in previous posts.

So, today, I am sharing links to products I think may be worth checking out for your homeschool.  Don’t see anything here?  Be sure to click on any of the tags you see at the bottom of this post to keep searching for additional ideas.

Curriculum Quick Picks:

Cover Story: Middle School Writing Curriculum (from the makers of One Year Adventure Novel) is a new program for 6th-8th graders.  It looks quite thorough plus a whole lot of fun.  I wish this existed when my children were in middle school!

Knowledge Quest isn’t new, but this company releases more and more great titles all the time.  Connect with them and you’ll receive great freebies from time to time, as well. KQ’s  Map Trek is my personal favorite.

Also not new, but certainly noteworthy, are the Trail Guides to Learning created by Linda Fowler and the beloved Debbie Strayer.   These take a unit study approach while covering periods in history.  How fun to be able to teach and learn this way!

These resources for gifted learners could be just what your family is looking for.  Check out both EPGY courses from Stanford University and CTY Online from Johns Hopkins for a complete list of course offerings for your academically gifted student.

I learn something new every time I flip through one of Jill Dixon’s guides.  The Diagnostic Prescriptive Assessment can still be found on the pre-owned market, and many others can be sourced on Amazon as well.  These aren’t for everybody, but if you have a child in grade K-5 and thinking about testing options or understanding diagnostics, this book could be worth a look.

Moving Beyond the Page delivers science, social studies and language arts in comprehensive curriculum packages available for students ages 4-14.  Samples available online show just how this product will delight a hands-on, creative, or gifted learner.

Never having studied Greek, I cannot comment on the accuracy or effectiveness of this product, but several families have recently recommended the Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek system.  If you try it, please leave a COMMENT to let my readers know what you thought!




Science fairs for homeschoolers and more!


Science fairs have always been a part of our lives here in the Moreau family homeschool.  My children have participated in science fairs for years — online, district and homeschool-only science fairs.  I love watching them learn about the world through science, and they have been successful in putting some terrific projects together completely on their own (I rarely help at all).   I get such a thrill out of seeing their projects on display and hearing my students interviewed about their efforts during the fair.  It’s always a moment of pride for me and — win or lose – they’re always happy with their efforts, too.  The truth is, I’m proud of everything my kids do.  But, there’s just something about science fairs that get their minds working and hands busy in exciting and ingenious ways.

Have you ever witnessed a a child with an interest in something just waiting to be tapped — there’s no stopping them, right?  What a shame it would be to never discover a talent or passion in something (science-related or anything) just because a child was never given the opportunity to develop it, or to show it off!

I still meet families who don’t realize that homeschoolers can compete in science fairs.  These are such amazing opportunities for homeschooled youth — I don’t want anyone to miss out!  And while not all kids are comfortable with competition, just learning how to complete these projects is valuable — whether they’re ever put on display or not.

That’s how my new book came about.   The Homeschooler’s Guide to Science Fairs was just released this month on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

I think you’ll like it!

One section of the book offers concrete, practical advice and tips for groups and leaders who have never organized science fairs before.  In it, you’ll find real suggestions that have worked for me and for the many other organizers I interviewed over the years.  I share what I have gleaned from my research and my contacts with science teachers and other experts — tips that are guaranteed to make the process easier for anyone planning a fair.  Why re-invent the wheel?  PLUS — since homeschool science fairs can be a little bit different than other fairs (not theoretically, just practically) I include suggestions to specifically address the nuances of working with homeschool families and groups, too.   You can benefit from my years of experience organizing, judging and participating in science fairs over the last couple of decades.  Find out what works, and what doesn’t, in just a few easy-to-read pages.

The other section is devoted to students.  Have you met kids who have no idea how to do a science fair project?  I have – lots of ’em! And parents, too!  Despite instruction bookets and information sessions, in reality, not everybody is always 100% confident about the process — that is, until they’ve done it at least half a dozen times!  Even then, rules change, groups change, the focus may change, thus it becomes a new learning curve every year.  EVERYONE always seems to have questions about science fairs, often turning these experiences into fact-finding missions and frantic last-minute searches for help (and sometimes major headaches!) and less about science and learning than than they should be.

Science fairs are fun!  Science is fun!  Let’s make it fun again.

That’s what I’ve done in The Homeschooler’s Guide to Science Fairs.  With contributions from everyone’s favorite science teacher, Janice VanCleave, and the phenomenal Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, you simply can’t go wrong with the Guide.  It’s the easiest little guide you’ve ever read.  It’s all in there — in an easy-to-follow Q&A format so you can skip the parts you don’t need, and hop right to the parts you do.  Short enough to flip through in an evening, but long enough to cover everything you’ll ever need to know, and more.

Check it out and let me hear your thoughts — you can write to me any time!  Review it for others — let them know if it’s worth the investment.  I predict this Guide will change your opinion about science fairs forever — you’ll never turn down another opportunity for your child to compete again.


Buy it in paperback

Buy it for Kindle








Banish “busywork” — here’s how!

Have you ever taken a look inside the pages of school books used in neighboring schools?  Perhaps there were things about the books you liked.

But what about school books did you dislike?  For many homeschoolers, the answer is busywork.

Busywork refers to the pages and pages of time-consuming, often meaningless, work that students are expected to complete while classroom teachers are busy doing other things.

To help explain this idea, think for a moment about the duties, expectations and workload of a typical classroom teacher.  Even the most beloved and experienced teachers have many things to do during a typical math or reading block that have nothing to do with teaching.  Today’s classroom teachers must manage equipment and supplies, field phone calls and constant interruptions, clean messes, write and receive passes, dispatch students to other areas on campus, move furniture and reorganize students, handle misconduct and behavior, and so much more.   Like it or not, busywork provides teachers with much needed chunks of time to do other things.

With this in mind, authors and publishers create textbooks padded with pages of busywork to occupy school children during idle times of the day.

Does busywork help with drill and practice?  For some students — perhaps.  But what happens when students have mastered a concept, yet are asked to complete busywork anyway?   Most students object to repeating lessons over and over again, do they not?

Homeschoolers have the freedom to banish busywork from the curriculum entirely!  Homeschool parents know that requiring excessive amounts of busywork and practicing the same ideas over and over can be a waste of time.   (Note this is different from directed readingspiraling or other methods that have been shown to improve learning or retention.)

How can homeschool families banish busywork?

For starters, by choosing textbooks and materials written especially for homeschoolers, because these authors and publishers write products specifically with homeschoolers in mind.  Because these materials contain little or no busywork, students can move through lessons more swiftly and with greater efficiency.

Skipping or abbreviating lessons full of busywork is another way.  When homeschool-friendly materials are not available, parents may adjust the content to suit their own needs.  By skipping repetitive assignments or selecting only material that matches the goals of a course, even traditional classroom materials can be customized to meet homeschool needs.  Abbreviating lessons full of busywork guarantees that students will not become weighed down by excessive requirements that offer no additional benefits.

If the previous two methods don’t work, a final solution is to use any textbook or curriculum product as a “spine” (or framework) instead of the course itself.  While this may require more creativity or ingenuity, spine studies are a sure-fire way to eliminate busywork altogether.  Using the book or course as a framework, then substituting a customized experience instead (reference, hands-on activity, field trip), means no busywork is ever required at all.



Homeschool Secrets Revealed! How do they do it?

Buy a copy now

New homeschoolers — particularly those just getting ready to make the commitment – ask many of the same questions.  “Where do I buy the books?” parents want to know.  “How do I know what I’m supposed to teach?” is another.  Of major concern is always, “Does homeschooling really work?” and “Can we afford it?” too.

As lives become busier than ever and our nation’s schools continue to disappoint, however, parent questions have taken on a new focus.  Basing their assumptions on homeschool as the superior option, parents now ask, “How do these people do it?” and “What’s the secret?” instead.   Though still interested in specifics, today’s families strive to learn if and how homeschooling will fit in with their daily lives.

Believe me — if there were one secret, one formula, one quick and painless tip to follow, or one tip that would guarantee homeschool success, I would surely share it with you now.  If you follow my blogs, my books, and my videos, you already know I’d share this information with you right away!

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.

BUT…the good news is — it isn’t hard, either.

You see, there isn’t just ONE secret to homeschool success.

Actually, there are TEN.

In truth, every successful homeschool family has found what works well for THEM.  Either naturally, by accident, or using years of trial-and-error, productive and happy homeschoolers have each discovered a formula for their own success.

The great thing is that — even though every family is different — successful actions always have things in common.

Years of research, observation and practice have led me to the discovery that homeschool success involves a combination of things — primarily a combination of TEN GREAT HABITS – that contribute to a great experience.

I now know what these great habits are.  I see them in thousands of other families.  I practice them myself.

Many of these habits come naturally to many people.  Even if they don’t, most can easily be learned.

What if everyone had a list of the habits of the most successful people?  What if every homeschooler had a list of successful homeschool habits, too?

In my e-book, The Way Homeschoolers Do, I reveal the TOP-TEN great homeschool habits.  You may think of these as the SECRETS to homeschool success, if you like.


Buy the book here


In The Way Homeschoolers Do, readers are given a glimpse into what makes successful homeschool families tick.  More importantly, readers learn the specific characteristics of homeschool families (the habits) that explain how these families do it.

Now, when new and prospective homeschoolers ask me, “How do homeschoolers do it?” I am able to share my list of the 10 great habits that explain this success.

When family and friends ask you how you do it, you can refer them to this list, too.

I think you’ll enjoy this compilation and explanation of the TEN HABITS of successful homeschool families.

This book is available in our e-store. Prices and purchasing details here.


One child. Different grade-levels in different subjects.

Based on his age, your child would be in 4th grade at the local school.  At home, however, using just 4th grade materials wouldn’t be the right fit.

You have seen him reading WAY above 4th grade level.  And though you never had him tested, you suspect he could easily read and understand the poetry, novels and plays usually assigned in high school.

On the other hand, based on the placement tests he has taken, your son’s math skills put him around 3rd grade.  Sometimes even a little lower, depending on his mood, the curriculum tried, and other factors you still haven’t figured out yet.

Your son’s spelling and vocabulary fall right in line with his reading level — higher than most his age.   But give this child a pencil, and he can hardly draw a straight line.  And his handwriting is hardly legible to anyone but you.

Sound familiar? Do you have a child with an interest or aptitude in one area who is “behind” in another?

Perhaps you have wondered if it is alright for one student to use materials for several different grades?    You may worry about the risks of allowing children to progress at different rates in different subjects.

Let’s begin with some analogies.  Remember the time you bought a new video recorder and tried to use it?  Remember when you first started a blog?  Or learned to program the recorder on your satellite television?

How about the first time you made lasagna?  Fixed a leaky faucet? Changed the oil in your car?

Do you even recall how long it took to sew a ruffled skirt?  Figured out the new diet or exercise routine?  Learned to crochet?  Studied the Periodic Table?

How long did it take for YOU to learn something new?  Minutes? Days or weeks?  Even longer?  If you’re handy and you like that sort of thing, you learned it quickly, right?  But some things took quite a bit longer — correct?

Now, imagine somebody told you that you’d need to learn each of those separate skills, each with different tools and different ideas, each in exact same amount of time.   No way, right?  Ah ha!  You get it.

This is what traditional education does to our children.  Without thinking, we parents are often guilty of it, too.

Homeschooling is the solution to requiring students to learn different things in the exact same time frame.  Looking at learning in this way, one can easily see that children will learn some things more quickly than others.   It’s normal.  Through homeschooling, students may move “ahead” when they are ready.  Nobody else can decide how long it takes.  Only them.  Or YOU by watching them.

Like programming the TV recorder, learning may come easy.  Or it may never really take hold.   Like baking lasagna, it may come out perfectly the first time, or may take many tries before getting it right.  And crochet?  Well, this may never be a skill you can master — ever.  Or maybe you can — but never perfectly.  Perhaps you’ll decide crochet just isn’t “your thing” and knowing how to do it doesn’t matter much anyway.  Or crochet might become something you dabble with the rest of your life just for fun, but never anything worth spending too much time on.

Getting back to schooling, it is important to understand that grade-level learning materials are labeled this way to help those who must classify large numbers of students into groups.  Classrooms full of same-age students must be held to the same standards, lest some could be short-changed by not receiving the same instruction, and left behind the rest of the pack.

Homeschoolers are not required to learn with the same-age pack.  Homeschooled students may learn what their same-age peers are learning, or spend time on what their peers did last year, or skip ahead to what their peers might be learning several years from now.  Learning has no limits, and may happen whenever the learner is interested and ready.

No parent would ever criticize a child for reading a book at bedtime.  Why, then, would a parent limit a child from reading any book he chooses during the school day?

The are no risks — only benefits – to allowing students this freedom to learn.  When compared to other children the same age, obviously children taught this way may appear “ahead” in some areas and “behind” in others.  But when viewed as a natural, desirable thing, this isn’t really a problem, now is it?

Perhaps the only difficulty in allowing children to progress at their own pace is when anticipating the end results.  Naturally, parents of homeschoolers may worry if their children have learned “enough” or have the skills and grades to enter college or a career.  But so long as the cumulative experience adds up in 12+ years, which skill was acquired during which grade does not matter.  Gathering up all of the learning at the end is what parents must focus on by the end — not which subject was taught each and every year.

You are invited to COMMENT with your thoughts on learning this way.  SHARE your fears or concerns about not sticking to grade-level materials during homeschool, on using a variety of grade-level materials with the same child, and about changing materials when children are ready to move on.

Readers love to hear what you have to say!


Welcome to homeschooling! Now go get yourself a book.

Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling!  On behalf of the global community of home educating families, let me be the first to say we’re glad you’re here!

What?  You’re asking what to do now?

You mean — you haven’t done any research?

Oh my.

Well, no worries.  I’m here to help.  ReallyI wrote a book about how to start homeschooling for people just like you.

But I need to be blunt.  You need to take that first step.

After all, homeschooling is all about doing things yourself.  Your way.  With your kids.

So…if you’re really planning to do this thing…start now.

Go get yourself a book.

I suggest buying a good, getting-started, how-to, or what-the-heck-is-this-all-about type of homeschooling book.  One that speaks to you.  One that comes recommended by friends you admire.  One that is packed with new, modern, up-to-date information.  One written in a style that matches your way of thinking.  Or, maybe one that matches your budget or has a pretty cover.  However you want to do it.   The choice is yours.

You’ll find the homeschooling book I published HERE.  It tells you exactly what to do the first two weeks.  Or, shop the marketplace to find others you prefer.  There are many good ones out there, each offering a little something different.

While waiting for the book to arrive, start —

  • following a couple of homeschool blogs that appeal to you;
  • subscribing to homeschool newsletters you think you’ll enjoy reading;
  • studying different homeschool models and educational philosophies that sound interesting to you; and
  • getting to know homeschool laws that apply where you live.

Jumping in feet first is the quickest way to get wet.  On the other hand, it can be awfully helpful to have a guiding hand or supportive reference to give you a general idea about what to do — or help get you rescued in the unlikely event you start drowning.

A good homeschool book can do that for you.

You’ll read it again and again.   You’ll refer to it over and over. You’ll pass the name on to friends who are getting started, too.

Digital downloads are fine, but something about homeschool paperbacks is just comforting.   A quick grab wherever you are.  An old friend waiting patiently on the shelf.

Whether you are just beginning or have been homeschooling for a while, books like these can have that effect.  There may be something you missed the first time around, or something you’d like to revisit because the time has finally come to apply that little bit of information.

The gift of preparation and knowledge is priceless.  Whether you get a book now, or buy one eventually after homeschooling a while, having a homeschooling book on the shelf is always a great idea.

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Writing instruction

Parents ask how to get kids to write.  Across the board, this seems to be a common struggle among students — homeschooled and non.

In my classes, I am frequently met by students afraid to put pen to paper.  Some have never written a good sentence or paragraph all their lives.  Many lament having nothing to write about.  Even more have no idea where or how to begin.   I spend weeks undoing the lies they have told themselves about writing.  After several months, they leave with a folder of completed writings and the confidence to try it again on their own.  Many say writing has become their favorite subject.

Unless parents take a keen interest in writing or are decent writers themselves (or even if they are), they may not know how to encourage and develop writing in children.  Writing instruction isn’t always included in language arts programs designed to help homeschool parents teach.  Plus, even with the right tools, ordinary people are untrained in what to look for, and how best to call students out if writing isn’t up to par.

You’ll find comprehensive writing systems on the market.  These include:

Writing With Ease

Excellence in Writing

Writing Strands


and others.

These can be a great addition to the homeschool curriclum.  BUT — just like with other products, many students enjoy them and many do not.  Using a writing system can be expensive, and switching products mid-year confusing, too.  These are a serious investments, both in terms of finances and — more importantly – in how a child views writing from that point forward.

I rarely suggest buying a comprehensive writing system at the very beginning of homeschooling.  My experience has shown there is much work that can be done at home — without ever spending a dime – before the need for a comprehensive writing system ever arises.  Developing projects at home goes a long way toward getting to know a student and helping develop attitudes about writing for the long-term, too.  This may be time-consuming and require more effort than some parents are willing (or have time) to put in, but worth it.

The key to success in writing  — I believe – is starting out by finding out what students enjoy.  Interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, PLUS how and where they like to write best are just a couple of factors.  Knowing what students like to write with (pen, pencil, markers, even chalk) and on (ruled paper, plain paper, in a journal) are just as important.  Factors in the environment affect writing, too.  Even paying attention to what students were doing prior to writing can play a part.

In my home, I never used comprehensive writing systems.  I observed each of my children to get a feel for their capabilities and preferences, and then assigned writing projects as we moved along.  I taught grammar separately, encouraged reading, and provided great writing samples everywhere I could.  This method allowed me to tailor the work to every child, encourage good writing habits when I saw them, and teach whatever was missing.  I changed circumstances when things weren’t working, and constantly monitored writing in all subject areas.  It wasn’t always easy!  But, my children have all developed into writers, each blossoming on his own perfect time frame, and several (so far) receiving praise for writing skills in online courses and on college campuses.  Best of all, ALL of my kids enjoy writing.

Because writing can be a delicate area, I always advise research and caution before selecting anything for homeschool use.  If the system you acquire appears to be a good fit for the child, by all means, use it right away and continue forever.  If it isn’t, however, first consider developing an informal system of writing on your own.  Have students write short stories, keep a journal, jot notes about what they do during travels, write jokes, translate comics into stories, or even write clues for crossword puzzles — whatever works for them.  Introduce a positive feeling about writing and observe how they work — for a long time.  THEN make future decisions about how writing will be taught from that point on.

Are your students writers?  Why or why not?  I’ll continue posting about writing instruction at home.   In the meanwhile, why not take a look at how writing is taught (or not) in your home?

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Plan Your Own Homeschool Curriculum


Purchase this title in our e-store

Gathering homeschool resources is easy and fun!

Who doesn’t love shopping for new materials and fresh supplies?

But…pulling them all together is a different story.

Once that box of goodies arrives by mail, well…that’s when the hard work begins.


Which one of the books should your kids start first?

How long will all those lessons take an average kid to finish?

Is there enough material to cover all the subjects you wanted to teach this year?

Should you assign all of the chapters in every book — or just some?

Do any of the resources overlap?  Should any be combined?

What other supplies do you still need to buy?  When do you need them by?

How much work should you assign every day? Every week? Every year?


Every parent faces the same challenges at the beginning of a new homeschool year.


Reviewing materials, planning lessons, and scheduling the year is no small task!


Sure, buying a comprehensive curriculum makes things easier.  BUT, it doesn’t always guarantee the system and schedule will be exactly right for your family.


Choosing materials from many different sources means you have to develop a schedule and lesson plans entirely on your own.  That’s a time-consuming process, too.


That’s why I developed Plan Your Own Homeschool Curriculumthe solution for creating a well-planned and cohesive homeschool year.


This is NOT a calendar.  It is NOT an ordinary planner, either.


What is it?


It’s an e-book that acts as your personal guide for planning an entire homeschool year.  You’ll receive a step-by-step system, including all of the forms you’ll ever need, to gather all of the books, worksheets, lesson plans, DVDs, web links, educational games, flash cards, MP3s and anything else you want to use during the homeschool year.   AND, you’ll receive a guided system for organizing everything into one giant set of lesson plans that work for YOU!


By the end of the e-book, you will have developed an organized plan for the ENTIRE HOMESCHOOL YEAR.


Buy it now


Plan Your Own Homeschool Year offers a system for:

  • Taking inventory of homeschool materials for the year;
  • Getting familiar with each specific resource, and how each should be used;
  • Determining how many lessons to plan and how much material to cover each time;
  • Deciding how to schedule the year and when to take time off; PLUS
  • Writing up a set of lesson plans to last the whole year.

In Plan Your Own Homeschool Year, guided instruction is used to:

  • Give parents a jump-start on what is covered in each homeschool book or product
  • Help parents organize the year into manageable chunks, avoiding last-minute planning and frustration
  • Explain how to calculate the number of lessons or number of chapters to assign every day/week
  • Demonstrate how to write lesson plans to keep the year running smoothly
  • Leave parents with a sense of confidence and readiness for an outstanding year!


ALL reproducible worksheets are included.


DETAILED easy-to-follow instructions make following the guide easy.


This system works for ANY family using ANY kind of homeschool resources.  Whether you’re a curriculum user, an eclectic resource family, or anywhere in between, you CAN have an organized homeschool year.


I’ll show you how!


Listen to what this parent said:

“…thank you so much for putting together an ebook about planning out a homeschool curriculum.  I have been searching the internet for a long time trying to find EXACTLY what you have put together.  I am grateful, that you took the time to create this ebook.”

~ C.T.


Approximate length: 35 pages


Are you ready for a well-planned homeschool year?


You can purchase this book in our e-store.

Click here for pricing and purchasing details.

Answer Keys


What is an answer key?  Do homeschoolers always need them?  For which subjects are they most helpful?

Here are some answers to these common questions:

What is it?

When purchasing homeschool curriculum products, many come with an answer key.  Sometimes, the answer key is included in the price.  Other times, it must be purchased separately.   Sometimes, answer keys are located within a larger teacher’s instruction manual or a test booklet.  Other times, answer keys are separate booklets all their own.

Answer keys may also be called Teacher Keys or Solutions Manuals.

The purpose of an answer key is to provide answers to all of the questions asked in the lessons.  This means that teachers (in this case, homeschool parents) do not have to solve all of the problems themselves, making checking student work quick and grading papers accurate.  Older kids can also be asked to grade their own papers using answer keys; thus, they work for both parents and students.

Do you need one?

Besides providing the correct answers, answer keys can be very handy for homeschoolers for another reason — they can be used for teaching and learning.  Particularly in math and sciences, they often show solutions in a way that teaches or reviews material again.  Thus, students who do not arrive at the correct answer on their own can sometimes learn by watching how the answers are derived in the answer key.

As a parent, I see nothing wrong with using an answer key as a teaching tool, and sometimes refer to it myself when I am unable to explain a concept to one of my students.  My philosophy is one of learning how to find information and solve problems.  Therefore, I allow my students to use any materials they need to learn something they may be struggling with, even if it includes the answer key.  I always ask students to solve problems on their own, but then provide help — including the answer key if necessary — if a book or other resources are just not enough.

Can you do without?

The answer depends on the student and the parent.  If parents are comfortable with material and able to explain to students, answer keys may not be needed.  But, if family members are unable to solve problems and grade papers on their own, and if there are no outside resources, no homework help, no tutor, no expert, no friends who have taken the class before, and no other source of information, having an answer key can be priceless.

Some parents do without answer keys when children are very young, then rely heavily on them as children advance, course material becomes more and more difficult, or students are given more autonomy for learning and scoring their own papers.

Some families buy answer keys for some subjects, and not for others.  Whatever works best given the existing level of mastery that exists in the home, and the comfort zone when it comes to evaluating student work, will determine if they’re needed or not.

A final note

When purchasing used homeschool products, check to see if the answer key is included.  If it isn’t — and if you want one — check to see if one can be purchased new or used, to match the same edition of the textbook, curriculum or lesson plans.  If not, consider whether not having the answers will make any difference during the year.  Sometimes, this can make or break the entire experience.  Though, as always, it’s entirely your call.

Lastly, keep in mind that not all families assign written work, evaluate student work or assign grades.  If this is true for your family, answer keys are probably not necessary in your home, unless used as a learning tool.

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Organizing a homeschool library

Colorful sticker dots are perfect for organizing homeschool libraries

Lot of families love books, but there is just something about homeschooling that makes books multiply!  Although many resources are now available in electronic format, homeschoolers are still well-known for having books in almost every corner of the house.

How to store books is another story.  Obviously, there are many different storage solutions ranging from totes and baskets, closets and drawers, bedside tables and — a favorite when my children were young – under beds!

At some point, however, as the number of books scattered throughout the house grows out of control, it makes sense to corral them and start a library.  What to put in your library is up to you, but you can get some ideas HERE.

Organizing a homeschool library is key.  It’s easy at first when the library is very small.  But as it grows, you’ll appreciate having a general system of classification to make finding books easier.  At-home classification systems do not have to be very sophisticated, or can be as complex as you wish.  Some families even adopt the Dewey Decimal system at home!

Orange dots can help to keep biographies together on one shelf.  Books can be shelved standing up, or stacked as shown.

What I suggest is taking a good, long look at all of the books in the library.  Get a general sense for what’s in there.  Should your family own many biographies, consider creating a classification called “Biographies” for the library.  If mysteries are what your children love, create a “Mystery” section.  And so on.  In our home, we have lots of what we call “Literature” books;  they’re coded with green dots:

Color-coding makes it easy to replace books where they belong at the end of the day

Most libraries have reference materials, so consider a “Reference” section.  Perhaps a “Cookbook” section is needed if cooking is practiced in your home.  Do “Hobbies” also need a section in your library? Perhaps you have enough books for an entire “Poetry” shelf, a whole “Nature” shelf, or a section devoted to “Animals” in your homeschool library.

Place stickers on the spine of every book, or simply place books on labeled shelves.  Or both.

Labels can be placed at the top or bottom of every shelf
A label maker is the perfect tool for creating stickers for library shelving

Grade-level materials can be handled one of two ways.  Some families place individual resources on shelves where every subject belongs (i.e., a “Math” shelf and an “English” shelf).  Others prefer to label books using stickers, and keep all books for each grade together.  Sticker dots are perfect for this application, as they can be used either for color-coding, or writing on, or both:

These 9th grade books have stickers marked with the number 9 on every spine

No matter how your family decides to classify and organize books, make sure it works well for everyone in the home.  Systems should be as easy for young children as it is for teens and adults.  Then, sit back and enjoy the rewards of having your very own homeschool library!

[Images: Moreau]