When most of the public school parents I know think about trying to home school, they say that they imagine their kids sitting at the kitchen table reading expensive textbooks and whining about how bored they are. They tell me that they would love to teach their kids at home, but they can’t afford the curriculum or don’t know how to make their kids learn. My answer? Try teaching without textbooks!
Granted, there are some very well made textbooks out there. If you can find them and afford them, by all means, buy them! The point is, you don’t need them. Give your kids access to exciting and interesting books, full of pictures and written to be enjoyed. Plan activities that will be fun and educational. Our goal is to teach our kids to love to learn, so that’s what we keep in mind for any subject and at all ages.
There are several ways to teach your child without traditional textbook curriculum.
- Used bookstores: Most of our “school books” come from here! Take some time to explore and find some amazing books on different topics. Look for a specific genre, or just see what catches your child’s eye. Don’t forget to check the used DVD area (or store). We found some fabulous travel DVDs from which our daughter is learning a ton!
- Library: This is such a great way to go! If you have a good local library or access to a public school library, decide on what topics your child wants to learn about (astronomy? weather? music?) and flip through a few until you find some that your child is excited about. All ages will love high-quality photos, but some books will even have a DVD or CD-ROM in the back, so be sure to check! Also, see what’s in the DVD section on different topics.
- Internet: There are so many on-line resources that I honestly believe that you can teach your child anything, from the alphabet to calculus, using just the internet! It can be a bit intimidating trying to find exactly what you need, so look for articles about good homeschooling resources on-line.
- Friends and Family: Do you have friends or family that have things that they can teach your child, such as a hobby that they love and your child finds interesting? What about books or DVDs that they’d be willing to swap for some of your books and DVDs, temporarily? Maybe you know somebody who lives on a farm and would let you bring your children to learn about raising animals, growing gardens, building sheds, etc. Try to think outside the box.
- Museums and other Educational Institutions: These places are designed to teach all of us! Find out what’s within driving distance and take a trip. I’d recommend learning about things in advance (study fish before going to the aquarium, planets before going to the planetarium, etc.) and then review after your trip. They’ll retain a lot more and have more fun, if they know what’s going on.
Here are some examples of books to have around the house to encourage learning. Although these are for younger children, there are books out there for every age group, including adults. Many parents feel like they are able to teach their younger children, but they are intimidated by the thought of teaching older children. Remember, it’s the same principles, just more advanced content.
That book in the background is one I made from old National Geographic magazines that we got for a few cents each at the local library!
Tips To Remember
- Don’t limit learning to books. Most things can be learned through activities and the kids (older ones included!) will enjoy it, rather than dread it! I’ve taught a ton of different things to my four-year-old using beads and she has loved every minute of it!
- Focus on their current interests. You will miss teaching opportunities if you are too focused on what they should be learning, rather than what they want to learn. You will need to discover their interests and nurture their passions.
- Have fun! The goal is not to torture them into retaining information, it’s to teach them to love to learn and to teach them how to learn. Try to relax and enjoy the process.
Note: Be sure to check on your state’s laws, so that you can work within them.
**This post has been entered in Frugal Days and Sustainable Ways.**