[Today we have a guest post from Michelle Habrych.]
I simply love the library, with its rows and rows of books, some old favorites and others new adventures waiting to be discovered. But do you use the library in your homeschool? Did you know there are more opportunities available to you than just borrowing books? Let’s talk about how to use the library while homeschooling elementary students.
Get Library Cards at an Early Age
My kids got their own library cards once they reached the appropriate age (3 at our library). We began homeschooling a year and a half after my son got his. Unit studies were the way we began our homeschool, and the library is essential when you’re trying to build a reading list for the studies. Back in those days, often we would max out our cards gathering as many books as were available on the topic we were studying. Additionally, I would say being able to check out early reader books from the library saved me a lot of money in my curriculum budget!
Did you know that if your library does not have a book on its shelf, it may be possible to borrow it from another library without driving anywhere? It’s called interlibrary loan, and it’s truly a homeschooler’s best friend! Ask your librarian how to use it and start placing holds! This is helpful if you need a specific book, but it’s not in the purchasing budget or if you want to see it and decide if it’s worth purchasing. Often you can place holds directly on the library’s website from the comfort of your own home, which is a huge plus for lesson planning. Ask a librarian to walk you through the process; there may even been other features available, such as suspend hold by adding dates, so the book won’t come in before you are ready for it.
Libraries today offer much more than books for their patrons. Playaway products are becoming more popular at libraries. Playaway is a company that makes preloaded digital content to check out at a library. The books come in a digital format, preloaded on a tiny player, about the size of a deck of cards. You just supply the battery and your headphones. Launchpad from Playaway is a pre-loaded tablet, offering a variety of age-appropriate learning apps. Playaway View offers a pre-loaded video to watch, such as Magic School Bus and Sesame Street, great for car trips and learning on the go!
Another thing your library offers to check out is DVDs. Yes, there are plenty of movies to save you a buck or two at the video rental place, but I’m specifically thinking of older movies and documentaries which may be used in your homeschool. When my kids were elementary age, we often checked out the following: Magic School Bus, Signing Time, Schoolhouse Rock, Rock N’ Learn, Schlessinger Media, and Liberty Kids. I’m sure there are many more options, but these offered a variety of engaging topics for fun learning.
Experiences and Classes
Aside from what you may borrow, the library offers experiences and classes each month for all ages. Our library has wonderful programs for elementary kids. There are free movies on the big screen, craft programs, and themed programs. One of the favorite programs at our library is Nature Club. Once a month the librarian would meet with the kids to discuss a topic of nature, based on the season, and highlight that month’s issue of Ranger Rick. They concluded with a craft and a snack. My kids looked forward to that every month, and I counted it with our science studies.
Special programs we have enjoyed in the past at our library include a marionette performance, Mr. Freeze science show, a sled-dog musher and one of her dogs, and the Jesse White tumblers. The free programs at the library give you as a homeschooler the opportunity to have an assembly without the cost.
Go to the library. Get to know your librarians—ours know us by first name!
Next time I will give ideas for using the library to homeschool middle school and high school students.
Michelle Habrych jokes that when she grows up she would like to become a librarian. It must be all of that time she and her children spent at Round Lake Area Public Library over the past decade. She has homeschooled her children since preschool age and loves the library.