Confession time. I love the library. There, I said it. So many books, so little time. The library was the backbone of our family’s homeschool curriculum. I know that when most people think of the library these days, they just picture a stuffy old building with crabby old women shushing people. But truly, that is not the reality.
From as early as I can remember, beginning when Ms. S was four, we had the rule of five. Yes, five. It was a very simple philosophy. Every library trip involved five different types of books:
- One autobiography
- One book dealing with science
- One book dealing with history
- One poetry book
- One fiction book
Our family’s first homeschooling rule that this was the “required reading” that week. Yes, when she was four (although she was already reading) I read these books out loud to her; however, because she was an early and ambitious reader she quickly took over. This rule stayed in force probably until she was done with elementary school; however, this was only a part of the slew of books she checked out weekly. Why do you think I enforced this rule? To make sure she was reading a variety of things.
Although we only had one child, we lived in a very expensive area on one teacher’s salary. Money was tight….. and the library was free. Yes – free! It is hands down the most amazing homeschooling resource that we have. Librarians love homeschoolers. They want to help children. They are knowledgeable. Use them!
But in reality, the library can be one of the most amazing homeschool resources you have – and it’s free!
Ways to Use the Library
I’m going to start with the obvious here…the endless number of books!
The library offers a vast array of history fiction, trade books, picture books, science books. Foreign language resources, math and language arts workbooks. And thanks to technology today – almost every library has inter-library loans with neighboring libraries. This way if your library doesn’t have it – they can likely get it.
Audio books were my daughter’s first love! This is how she could “read” (listen) to those books that her little fingers could hold up yet. She listened to such a variety of book on every car trip. Not only did this help with her reading comprehension but her listening skills. And even more so – this was a great way to get the entire family discussing one book. Most libraries have a tremendous selection of audio books!
Not only does libraries have countless books and audio books, but they have so many DVDs. There are movies, documentaries and (classic) television shows lining the shelves of their audio-visual department. Again, inter-library loan will help you get almost anything you desire! This is a great way to do homeschooling movie day (break out the popcorn). You can end any unit study with something fabulous and free!
FREE Foreign Language Programs
Go to your library’s website. It is open 24/7 and find those FREE online foreign language programs for those who have a library card! GREAT WAY to test out various foreign languages to see what one your child will want to study before spending the money. If they don’t want to continue the language – you lost nothing because it is FREE. It is a win-win situation.
A good library will NOT neglect its older youth patrons. Many libraries have clubs ranging from art to Manga and crocheting to book clubs. Ask your librarian what is available. If they don’t have what you are interested in – suggest it. Librarians LOVE that!
Book Clubs and Discussion Groups
Check your local library’s calendar of events. They often have many book discussion groups geared towards youths. Often the library even provides (as keep items) the books for it. This is a fabulous way to enhance your literature studies within your homeschool.
Librarians will often teach students how to create bibliographies, how to use the online database and even how to research. Talk to your librarian. See what skills he/she has and utilize them. They are so happy to help patrons!
If there is one thing that a library needs most, it is volunteers. From putting books away to helping people find what they are looking for – volunteers are invaluable. Besides looking great on a college resume, volunteering at the library will also help your child’s confidence blossom. Children, who volunteer, are appreciated. One hint – suggest that your child volunteers during school hours as that is when they have the fewest volunteers as most students are in school.
I am honestly skimming the surface when it comes to the possibilities your local library can provide to you and your homeschool. We often take for granted they are there. Remember, libraries have amazing hidden treasures you can find for free!
How are you going to use your library this year?
Eva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.