Four Reasons Why Libraries are Homeschooling Hotspots
As an experienced children’s librarian, some of my favorite and most frequent library visitors have been homeschoolers and their families. Nope, libraries aren’t the “shhh-ing” spaces they used to be. We have so much more to offer to homeschoolers than ever and we love the families which make up our local communities!
So, why are libraries homeschooling hotspots?
Here are four of reasons why libraries should be indispensable for homeschooling families, and what your library can do for your homeschoolers and you:
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- Resources and Materials for Homeschool Students
Of course you know that your library is full of books which can help your child to explore topics and skills which are part of your curriculum or even just aligned to your homeschoolers’ interests.
So, why a library and not a bookstore? For starters, libraries are free. What’s equally important is that they provide so many other programs and materials aside from books!
Let’s take a look “beyond the books” at some of the resources the library can provide for your homeschooler:
- Databases — Your library provides access to databases, including databases, especially for children. These databases provide access to information on an array of topics. Your librarian can show your homeschoolers how to explore databases to find online content.
- Resource Kits — Whether your homeschooler is studying life cycles, planets, or the ocean, your library likely has a kit that can help! A kit is a collection of materials which a librarian has selected to help teach a topic. Kits can include manipulatives, worksheets, games, videos, books, and more.
- Makerspaces — A makerspace provides access to contemporary tools and technology such as 3-D printers, robotics kits, laser cutters, and materials for building and design. Your library’s makerspace is an excellent place for your homeschoolers to experience science, technology, engineering, and math in a fun, hands-on way!
2. Individualized Help and Tutoring
Whether it comes to finding resources about a topic or using the library’s technology, your librarian can help your homeschoolers make the best use of the library. For help with something simple, such as how to use a toy designed to teach your 5-year-old how to code, or how to print a report, there’s no need to make an appointment.
If your needs are more complex, for example, your 12-year-old needs help with a math concept, call ahead and book an appointment. That way, your librarian can find resources in the library and online to help your homeschooler, research the topic, and reserve a block of time to sit down with your homeschooler to provide personalized help.
3. Activities and Events for Homeschoolers
Libraries love to host events for homeschool groups and they can provide the workspace and materials for homeschool groups. Simply call your library and explain how many individuals you expect to attend your meeting and what your group needs. For example, if your group needs paper, writing utensils, and biographies for a range of age levels, tell your librarian. Your librarian can reserve an area for you and set it up with the materials your group needs.
Many libraries often plan programs especially for homeschoolers. Attending these events is a great way for homeschoolers to socialize and learn. These programs also provide opportunities for the parents of homeschoolers to network and share ideas.
Some of the homeschool programs I’ve been involved with planning and hosting have focused on cooking, beekeeping, gardening, and chemistry. These programs are so much fun for the homeschool students and allow them to learn through completing activities and experiencing concepts first-hand. Often, local experts in the community volunteer to help with the programs and to bring materials and animals to the library to enrich the learning experience.
4. Opportunities for Parents
Homeschooling parents should definitely take advantage of library programs for their children as opportunities to gather ideas for activities and to meet other parents. They can also take advantage of the library as a meeting space to conference with other homeschooling parents, as well as attend library events created to teach homeschooling parents about the resources which are offered for their children.
Ask your librarian for books about homeschooling and curriculum and suggest titles and programs which you would like for you or your homeschoolers. Librarians love suggestions! We are always here to help and your feedback helps us to anticipate and meet your needs.
Unlike a traditional school, libraries do not select the curriculum or evaluate your homeschoolers. Think of your library as a free school at which you and your homeschoolers can choose the materials and content, as well as determine your own goals. Your library provides a ton of materials, ideas, engaging educational activities, and an environment which fosters healthy social skills for your child.
Give your homeschoolers the opportunity to use the library and find out for themselves how much libraries rock!
Keep in mind that if your homeschoolers are different ages, it’s not a problem. Even if a program is for middle grades, it is unlikely that your librarian will mind if you bring your younger child as well as your middle schooler. It’s a great idea to let your librarian know in advance if you plan on bringing siblings of different ages. If your librarian knows who the attendees will be, she can plan to modify activities so that all children can participate.
Aside from one-time programs, libraries often offer ongoing meet-ups for homeschoolers. Check the library’s site for events, call and ask about the schedule, or just ask for a calendar during your next library visit.