Sometimes parents wonder if they can use traditional school books for home education. Can books that are designed for school classrooms also work at home?
The short answer is yes. Homeschooling moms and dads have the freedom to select any kind of educational materials they want to use use with their students. This applies to textbooks and any kinds of books or materials for that matter.
Using textbooks at home is another matter. Though they can work very well, there are some things to think about before making a textbook purchase.
First, since texts are generally written for schools, they tend to follow a specific format. This often includes lessons in smaller chunks, or units, followed by reviews and assessments. If this is the kind of format you and your children enjoy, textbooks should work very well. If not, you may want to look at using the textbook a different way than it was originally written.
Next, textbooks usually follow a set of state- or nationally-approved standards for school children in particular grade levels. This is merely something to be aware of, so that you’ll understand why certain subject matter is included in the book and why topics are sequenced as they are. Families wishing to follow a typical course of study will enjoy that textbooks commonly follow along with school course descriptions. On the other hand, parents who prefer to highlight different topics, spend more time studying ideas in depth, or create another kind of curriculum altogether may feel limited by the material in the book alone.
Finally, since homeschoolers sometimes purchase used textbooks or inherit them some other way, families often do not have the benefit of all of the supplemental materials that classroom teachers have access to. For example, answer keys, transparency masters, student workbooks, and other guided activities are usually sold separately; thus, homeschoolers purchasing textbooks may have difficulty using the book without all of the other materials that are referenced in the book. It isn’t that a textbook can’t work, simply that parents and students need to be flexible and accepting of the fact that they might not be able to do all of the suggested activities mentioned in the text.
Many homeschoolers use textbooks at home quite successfully and many students enjoy using traditional textbooks, too. Textbooks offer a good variety of content in a neatly organized package, making lessons relatively easy to teach and offering some guarantee that most grade level material is covered in one year’s time.
On the other hand, when children don’t enjoy learning from books, or when families prefer to rely on other kinds of experiences for learning, textbooks are probably not the most suitable teaching resource. In this case, textbooks can be used only as a framework, for reference purposes, or not at all.
Those considering teaching with traditional textbooks can find them just about anywhere. If you are looking for texts for your homeschool, try these options:
- online auctions
- used book sites on the Internet
- used book stores in your area
- book depositories in your city, state
- cast-offs from the local school system
- yard sales
- homeschooler curriculum/book sales
- thrift shops
- asking friends and family for old school books or college texts
- setting up a homeschool account and purchasing directly from a school book publisher