Guide to Purchasing Curriculum

Homeschooling is varied and homeschoolers themselves range from the exceptionally frugal to the exceedingly extravagant when it comes to stocking their household teaching supplies.  If you’re like me you prefer free but admit that there are those purchases you need and some you just flat-out want.  (And if you’re really like me, you’ve become a bit of a curriculum junkie and plan to *someday* begin a personal journey to learn to reign in on those impulse purchases.)

So when you have done all  your research and know what you want how do you go about getting it?

Here are some suggestions to help you along:

  • Library – Utilize your local library.  All libraries have different rules and restrictions but many have no limit to the amount of books you can check out. (Or at the very least, allow a high number of books out at one time.) Most libraries have online services to allow for easy renewing and you can request specific books from different locations.  Books, audiobooks, CDs, and videos are just some of the resources you can tap into for free.
  • Check your local Goodwill Bookstore – Goodwill has a decent selection of teaching and homeschooling books at any given time.  Since their selection is dependent on donations you never know what you may find.  Build up a friendly relationship with your Goodwill employees and they may just hold some “goodies” aside for you as they come in.  I find Goodwill a great place to pick up Early Readers at a fraction of the normal price.  Have a book that your kids keep renewing at the library?  Maybe it’s time to purchase it for your home collection.  Check Goodwill before buying new.
  • Homeschool Buyers Co-op– Free to join! And it makes it so easy to save money.  HSBC utilizes the advantage of co-op purchasing power to buy from publishers in bulk- you can save 20%-90% on homeschool curriculum.  They have an ever-changing selection of deals and offers as well as an extensive list of Freebies.  There has been numerous times I was about to purchase curriculum somewhere when it would dawn on me to check the co-op first.  Even if the curriculum wasn’t currently one of their group-buys they have many standing discounts for resources.  HSBC has our backs!
  • Used-Curriculum-  If you’re a member of a local homeschooling group or co-op class chances are they offer occasional used-curriculum sales or swaps.  This would be a great time to pick up some things from your wish list.  Lots of groups have online forums or group pages where you can list what resources you are looking to buy.  You can also search ” homeschool curriculum classifieds” to find a list of websites dedicated to connecting those looking to buy and sell.  And as one helpful reader pointed out- don’t forget to check Ebay.  Online auctions can be great way to find hard-to-find or out of print items too.
  • Rainbow Resource Center– Your one stop homeschooling shop!  This powerhouse of a store boasts roughly 40,000 items from over 1,00 different publishers.  With helpful product reviews and an AWESOME customer service team you’re sure to find what you need- and even a few things you don’t but want anyway.  A benefit to purchasing through Rainbow is you can lump different curricula from different publishers on the same order and only pay one shipping fee.  Or spend $150 and Rainbow Resource will ship it to you for free!  *Be warned- Their catalog is the size of a phone book! We’re talking full-out yellow pages!
  • Amazon.com– If you’re like me and planning ahead isn’t your strong suite, you’ll probably want to invest in the annual $79 to become an Amazon Prime member.  That gets your family unlimited, FREE 2-day shipping.  A quick turnaround time like that has saved my butt on numerous occasions.  With paid membership, you get access to their instant streaming videos and library of free Kindle titles.  Check here to see if you are eligible to try Prime membership out for free. Even if you’re not a Prime member there are still ways to save.  Amazon generally has some of the lowest prices on books, especially if they qualify for their 4 for 3 pricing.
  • Local Bookstores– Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, etc all have modest teaching and homeschooling sections.  Curriculum and resources are limited but you can occasionally score a deal if you are a member of their store or have a coupon on hand.  Also, be sure to look into Christian bookstores in your area.  More often than not they boast a large homeschooling selection that may or may not have a biblical worldview.  Even as a secular homeschooler I make a point to peruse their selection often.
  • Publisher’s website– And lastly, there are some things you just can’t get anywhere else and need to get directly from the publisher.  Before you make the purchase, call and ask if they have any sort of annual sale or ‘scratch and dent’ clearance items.  Look online and see if there are any coupons floating around.  They aren’t common, but it doesn’t hurt to look.  It’s always nice to save a buck or two.

Happy hunting everybody!

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5 Responses to Guide to Purchasing Curriculum

  1. Katherine says:

    I would also like to add that Amazon.com has a free prime membership program that lets you enjoy their prime shipping but not their other prime member services. We buy our diapers through them and not only do we recieve a great discount we then enjoy the free shipping on our books.

  2. Neelam says:

    I would like to add ebay to your list of suggestions also. Thanks.

  3. Amy says:

    Great compilation of sources! I generally use amazon (I use gift cards I get from taking surveys and such to get suff free), but am getting more comfortable in the library and just discovered rainbow resource center! I got their (phone book sized) catalog and ordered some stuff for this year. I don’t know if it’s still going on, but they had a deal with free shipping if you spend $50 and I found the prices on what I wanted were just as cheap or cheaper than amazon, so I went for it =) Thanks for sharing this with us at Trivium Tuesdays!

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