Homeschool Libraries,

Vendors, and Curriculum Fairs



by Barb Shelton

I first want to share the posts from various people that were what prompted me to write...  Then I'll give my perspective.


"I live in an area where there is a great homeschool library/resource center. They spend thousands of dollars each year buying materials. It is really great, but you cannot check materials out for months at a time. The check-out period is 3 weeks and you may renew once if no one is waiting for that book. The opportunity is there to peruse curriculum materials you are interested in, but not to take home and use for very long. I did use the Saxon solutions guide for 3 weeks and couldn't do without it after that, so purchased it."


"Do you not have a curriculum fair in your state that would be close enough to attend for the purpose of "seeing" what you are interested in before buying? And even then it's hard not to be impulsive, because there's just so much good stuff there, buying more than you really need."



"I love the Curriculum fairs, but have come home with more than I need. There are so many "convention specials" that I just have to have. It's hard to look at things too much due to the hoards of people also. It is best to study the catalogs beforehand and get references from other homeschoolers, even looking at other people's books if possible. Then at the convention, find the things you're most interested in and spend some time looking through them to see if indeed, it is something you can use."



All three of these moms have brought up some very good points that I want to highlight and comment on...

I feel it is timely to share my thoughts about some issues that are actually paving the path of the homeschool movement. One thing I have realized is that people generally don't realize that their decisions and actions actually have a definite effect somewhere in this realm. They really shouldn't; I mean out in the "real world" they don't. For instance, if I go to dinner at Casa Azteca tonight instead of Chinese Gardens, the latter will probably not go out of business.   :-)

But in the homeschooling realm it is very different.

First let me air a couple of my pet peeves, and then I'll give my suggestions.

One is homeschool lending libraries. I do not have a problem with libraries themselves, but how homeschoolers tend to regard and use them.  


My other pet peeve is the attitude that curriculum fairs are there for your purposes only, so that you can have the opportunity to look over everything you want, ask questions, but not buy. Now, I have NO problem with looking over everything!  But I've often heard homeschoolers (even the coordinators of the fair!!!) advise other homeschoolers to not buy anything at these events, thinking they are giving wise counsel.


Having worked with homeschoolers for over 19 years now, I have seen and dealt with quite a diversity of attitudes. While there are many homeschoolers with benevolent hearts, there are some prevailing and growing attitudes among homeschoolers that I have felt led to address, hopefully to bring some into an awareness that they would not otherwise have had. With that in mind, I say the following with love and respect...
I've found there is a tendency in the church and among homeschoolers to consider it unspiritual and unadmirable to ask to be paid for services and products. I even heard one prominent and well-loved
homeschool leader say, at one of his seminars, that he takes NO money personally from the sales of his books. And the attitude that came across loud and clear was that, in so doing, he was not stooping so low as to "take advantage" of the homeschool community by getting paid for books they purchased from him, and that anyone who did was just leeching off the poor homeschoolers! Not that homeschoolers are poor in a financial sense, though we do tend to have less money because of being primarily one-income families, but he meant it more because of the noble burden we have chosen to take on. 

So it is no wonder that many homeschoolers have taken on this attitude ~ it has come directly from a certain segment of our beloved leadership! And I do mean "beloved" because I personally love this particular leader, highly respect and admire him, and owe much to his wisdom. But bless his heart, I believe he has an unscriptural view of receiving fair payment for services! Homeschoolers, bless our hearts, do not have any less reason to pay for what we are getting than anyone else in any other walk of life. And, as I said in my Frugal vs. Cheap article, if homeschoolers want to keep those who are working to provide services and products for the homeschooling community in a position of being able to continue doing so, it's important that they see the bigger picture. So that's what I'm trying to draw here.
I think part of this expectation arises from the fact that public schools are totally free. The state is happy to pay for its agenda!  When a person has grown accustomed to this free ride, it is very uncomfortable to transition over into having to actually pay for what you get. Almost maddening, even, and certainly frustrating for those of us for whom money tends to be not as free-flowing as we'd like!  
There is a public school district not far from where I live that is pulling people back into the system as fast as they are leaving by offering a program they have developed that enables homeschoolers to take advantages of their services. Now there is nothing morally wrong with participating in something like this(!), but people need to realize that when they participate in such a program, they are still part of the system. The schools are being compensated by the state for the services they provide for homeschoolers, so it is very attractive to them to do so; much better than entirely losing them ~ and the funding that goes with them ~ when they leave the system. 

Many homeschooling parents involved in such programs are being lead to believe, intentionally or unintentionally, that they are not capable of providing an adequate or thorough education for their children! This is simply not true!!! And the more connected you are to the system, the more inadequate you will feel, the more broken up your day will be with outside draws, the more vulnerable your child will be to humanistic influences, and the less creative and dependent on God you will be because you are handing the reins back over to the schools for those harder classes. (Like I always say, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going ~ to GOD!) God has an amazing way of providing for our every need! 
Back to my main point... When you leave the system, you need to know ~ and just decide ~ that you (with God) are taking on the full responsibility for your child's (and your OWN!) education, including financial responsibility, which is yet another stumbling block that I know the enemy uses and magnifies to keep people from taking the plunge and following God's plan for educating their children. Though *my* view is that once you have gone through a season of re-educating yourself as to what true education is, you will not be spending NEARLY the money you THOUGHT you would need to. And whatever needs you do have (you know, like buying all my books and tapes!), God will be happy ~ much happier than the state ~ to provide. "Where God leads, He also provides." Marilyn wrote that out on a pretty little card when I was going through a difficult time financially a long time ago, and I still have ~ and am encouraged by ~ it! But it applies to more than just finances too! God provides ALL the creativity, ideas, grace, direction, vision, patience, *and* wisdom that we need to MORE-than-adequately homeschool the precious children He has put in our care. Why would He call us to do something for our kids that would be less than the BEST?!

Well, (stepping down off of soapbox) end of sermon. 



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...the red gingham background at:


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