Just five more weeks and I'll be heading south for my state's annual homeschool convention. Of course I always enjoy going to the encouraging seminars, but if truth be told, I MOST enjoy the SHOPPING! Ironically, I absolutely HATE all other kinds of shopping (I'd rather pluck out all my eyebrows than go clothes shopping...ugh!). But, give me a room full of books or stationary supplies and I morph into a some kind of mad power shopper. I become a woman on a mission with books to buy and a budget to uphold! So, watch out!
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Over the years, I have saved much time and MUCH money by following a simple shopping plan. By going into the vendor hall with a TENTATIVE target and a well-organized shopping list, I can usually snag deals early-on and have the rest of the weekend to peruse booths and seminars at a more-leisurely pace.
How I Plan My Curriculum Shopping List
I make a list of the subjects I hope to cover in the up-coming year with each child.Although many of the core subjects are repetitive from year-to-year, with the addition of more students and the advancement of others, subjects need to be re-evaluated each year. (Next year, my daughter will NOT have a formal handwriting time as she has had in the past. So, I will not have to plan for that. My oldest son, on the other hand, will begin Typing for the first time. And so on...)
I determine what curriculum brands I will use for each of those subjects.I tend to be VERY eclectic in both my teaching methods AND my curriculum loyalties. I don't believe any ONE method or curriculum is perfect for EVERY child for EVERY subject...or for EVERY mother, for that matter. I can find some value in all of them...so I exercise my right to pick and choose. (I hope to write more on how I choose the right curriculum for our family, but until then, one of my favorite resources to recommend to homeschooling newbies is 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style. It is an excellent resource filled with curriculum reviews, tools to help you determine both your child's learning style AND your teaching style, and curriculum recommendations based on your answers to several key questions.)
I determine which SPECIFIC items I will need from each curriculum for each student.I scour curriculum catalogs and make a note of all teacher's guides, student books, manipulatives, etc. that I feel I need in order to teach that subject/grade for the up-coming year. As I mentioned, many subjects/curriculums are just repeated and passed down to the next child requiring less planning. I don't have to spend nearly as much time looking on-line or in catalogs for my boys as I do for my daughter. Since she is the oldest, her up-coming grade level is always BRAND NEW and demands a bit more time and thought to organize.
I shop for curriculum on my own shelves.I store all my "currently not being used" curriculum in a large cabinet in my basement. Since some of it sits for a couple years before it is needed by the next child, it often gets forgotten. Before making my final shopping list, I like to check to see if I already have any of the items I will need for next year. (Last year in my haste, I skipped this step and ended up ordering an entire language curriculum that I ALREADY HAD. I had bought it the year before on clearance, squirreled it away in my basement cabinet, and forgot all about it!)
I make my final shopping list.In years past, I have tried organizing my list in a fancy computer spread sheet, but I somehow always come back to the old-fashioned/portable pen and paper version.
HOW I actually write out my list...or rather, how I ORGANIZE my list for shopping ease reflects HOW I shop. That being said, I encourage you to take the core ideas and adapt them to YOUR shopping style.
- I start by writing out one subject in the "subject" column.
- I start with Sweetie Pea, my oldest, and list out all the items she will need for that subject. I color code the page so that it is easy to see, at a glance, which child I am shopping for. So, Sweetie Pea's items are all written in pink. Subjects like Bible, that are the same for everyone, are written in black.
- I record the on-line or "new" price for each item...including any shipping costs.
- If I plan on purchasing the item on Amazon or eBay, I indicate that by writing an "A" or an "E" next to the On-line Price.
- I leave a space to record the actual purchase price. (I buy certain items at the used vendor section of the homeschool convention. So my actual purchase price can differ considerably from the on-line price. Also, vendors selling new books will often offer free shipping IF you purchase the materials at the convention.)
- I repeat this same process for each of my other children.
- I begin with a new subject.
One more thought on shopping with a list...Once you put together a well-thought-out list, don't be afraid to use it. I often save myself...and the convention vendors...lots of time, by just handing him/her my list as soon as I approach the booth. Most of them know EXACTLY what books they currently have. They can quickly scan my list and point me to the correct shelf...or send me on to the next vendor, if they do not carry the item I am searching for.
Need a curriculum shopping list template?
Feel free to steal mine!
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