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Homeschooling - Using the Library
As Your Primary Resource

By Lorrraine Curry

Where can homeschoolers get unlimited educational materials and not spend a dime? The library, of course! What a blessing to be able to bring home stacks and stacks of books, all for free. The library makes homeschooling an option for parents who could not afford it otherwise.

According to various experts, and proven by our own experiences, reading aloud is the very best educational activity. The library is the place to get the books for doing this. When reading aloud you will be able to skip over really objectionable parts of books; or discuss world views. An example of this was the book that we used when studying slavery and the Civil War. We checked out a book of the slaves own words. Rather than pass over such interesting and accurate history, I passed over the few passages about nudity.

Scope and Sequence

A good place to start is with a plan, your scope and sequence. The scope and sequence gives details on what you will be teaching (scope) and in what order (sequence). The scope and sequence is usually written for one year at a time.

There are guides available that are quite helpful for writing the scope and sequence. One is World Book's Typical Course of Study. I thought it overwhelming and simplified it for the Course of Study in my book, Easy Homeschooling Techniques. Even a text's table of contents can be used as a a guide for a subject.

As well as helping with choosing resources from the library, a scope and sequence will make it easier to plan your daily schedule. You will also be able to see at any point during the year, what you have covered and what needs to be learned next.


Begin a rough draft. As main points (I, II, III, IV, etc.), list the major subject areas you will cover, such as Bible, Math, Language Arts, Health, Science and History. Leave plenty of room between your points, so that you can list subordinate topics beneath the main points. You may add Music and Art as well. (You could study the art and music of the time period you are covering in history.)

Now, pick and list the topics (from the guide) that you would like to cover. Get your children's input . You may end up with more than necessary. Remember, this is a rough draft! Look at grades around your child's grade, so you can have a continuity from year to year in subjects such as history. (See sidebar for an example of a history plan.)

Put some order into the jumble of science topics in Typical Course of Study when writing the scope and sequence. Choose one field of science (chemistry, physics, biology, etc.) to focus on each year, or spend the year studying scientists and discoveries from the same historical period you are studying. Tobins Lab's catalog has science topics arranged in an orderly fashion.

If you have children in several different grades, perhaps you can combine the topics or pick one that all can learn at the same time. I did this frequently with History, Science, and Health. Teach your children who are close in age the same Math and Language Arts. Look through several of the grades and plan ahead to achieve a continuity from year to year.

Choosing Books From The Library

Once your scope and sequence is completed, you have the easy job of picking out armfuls of books on a regular basis to fulfill the learning goals of your plan. With so many libraries having computerized card catalogs, this is quick work. Type in the era or topic, such as "civil war."

With this method one thing leads to another and soon you will read in one book about a person whose biography you can then borrow. Many homeschoolers favor the old Landmark, Signature or the We Were There biographies, which your library may still have. More eloquent writing was done by authors like G.A. Henty, Oliver Optic or Horatio Alger who wrote about various historical periods. We used the children's section of the library almost exclusively for many appropriate non-fiction books on a wide variety of topics when our children were younger. We also found some wonderful classic novels in the adult section, such as a fragile copy of the Christian colossus about slavery, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Other Ideas

For foreign language, check out videos or cassette tapes. Do an intensive study during the time you have the tapes. Then in a week or so check them out again and do another study. Keep doing this until done with the course.

Most libraries have computers for public use, sometimes with good quality learning software. Have your child work on one of these while you are looking for books. Keep track of progress made each visit.

Use the library's newspapers for current events classes.

See more easy tips, including detailed planning how-to's in EasyHomeschooling Techniques

Lorraine Curry is the author of 5 Star Easy Homeschooling books. See and link to more articles, FREE copywork, subscriptions, ebooks and more at

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Lorraine Curry is the author of 5 Star, Easy Homeschooling Techniques and Easy Homeschooling Companion. See more articles, FREE copywork, subscriptions, ebooks and more at

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A History Plan

Each number = a school year but not necessarily a school grade.

1. World history
2. American history
3. State history

Then, repeating in greater depth and/or with different emphasis

4. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Middle Ages
5. Renaissance and Reformation
6. American history from the explorers to the pioneers (including state history)
7. The pioneers to World War II
8. World War II to present

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