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I'm tired of buying curricula online site-unseen!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Just curious... are there real life school/homeschool supply stores where various curricula are stocked where people can shop? I'm in a rural area and there's only one other family I know of near me using like-minded homeschool methods, so I've not really seen many options for curricula.  And it's difficult (I'm beginning to think, impossible) to determine what a curriculum is really like just by reading the descriptions and reviews online. I've quickly depleted my homeschool budget buying things online that I had hoped would work for us. 


It would be wonderful to go shopping in a store that had all the different curriculum materials in one place... where I could put all the ones I'm interested in side-by-side and compare.  Do these stores exist?  How does everyone find the curricula they want without wasting lots of money on materials that won't ultimately be used??

post #2 of 11

I think homeschool brick and mortar stores have trouble staying in business, but homeschool conferences often have halls where curricula publishers sell their stuff directly, and that would let you flip through a variety of stuff.  Also, this is the time of year groups in my area often have used curricula sales, which would be another chance for you to see some in person (and may be unload some of your stuff that didn't work out).


If none of that works, RainbowResource.com has images of the inside of most of the stuff they sell, so you can have SOME idea what you're buying.

post #3 of 11

We don't have a regular store anywhere even near us but we went to NICHE conference last year and got to see everything and that was awesome!  I would suggest a homeschool conference to see everything.  Ours was and we are Christian- so it worked well for us- not sure if that is a turn on or a turn off for you.

post #4 of 11

Yeah, brick-and-mortar stores just wouldn't have enough of a customer base to survive.  Conferences are about the only place you can really look at things hands on without having to buy them first.


More and more curricula, though, are offering lots of samples onlines.  I especially like History Odyssey, for instance, which offers like the first several weeks of lessons for download so you can really and truly try them out and see how they work for you.  They call it "Try Before You Buy".  We tried Ancients II a few years ago with my son, who was agewise old enough for level II, but trying it out over a few weeks we realized it was too much too soon for him, so we tried level I instead and that was a much better fit.  


It's a common problem, though, and you'll get sympathy and understanding from just about everyone here lol... There are enough homeschoolers "out there" that we could certainly keep a brick and mortar store in business, but only if we were all in the same geographical area!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Argh... that's too bad.  Well, thanks for the empathy!  I'm glad I'm not alone here.  I guess another part of the difficulty is that I'm pretty narrow in the type of materials that I'm looking for... i.e. mostly Waldorf or Waldorf-related/inspired.  I really like the "try before you buy" approach... a week's worth of sample lessons would be great.  There's only one Waldorf curriculum I know that does this though (Little Acorn Learning).  Most others just have a few random sample pages that look nothing like a lesson plan, more like educational theory.  I looked at the closest expo near me and essentially none of the curricula that I've been looking at were on the exhibitors/vendors list.  None on rainbowresource.com either.  Sigh. 


My latest frustration has been with Enki.  It's pretty expensive (for me, at least) and you have to buy it in a package (like $700 for 1st grade).  Once you buy it, you pledge that you will not resell the materials, so I can't (easily) find it used.  If I were to buy it new, I'd only have 2 weeks to review it and return it if it won't work... and then I would pay for return shipping plus 15% restocking fee... that would mean I'd lose over $100 just to look at it.  And because of the resell policy I couldn't just flip it if I didn't like it.  Through Enki, I found someone a couple hours away who offered (very kindly) to let me look at their materials... but it seems totally awkward to go meet someone just to look at their materials, you know?  It would just be SO much easier to go to a store!  There's got to be a better way!!!

post #6 of 11

Oh I hear you about Enki.  I'm intrigued by it, but will NOT lay out that much money for it without better understanding of it.


Oak Meadow has fairly extensive samples, have you checked that out?  Of course it's not "pure" Waldorf but it's still a pretty good curriculum.  


As "pure" Waldorf goes, I have a good number of the Christopherus materials and am pretty happy with them.  And I think Earthschooling has good samples to look at too.

post #7 of 11

I don't know how far you are from a larger city, but if there is a homeschool expo / conference anywhere near you (within driving distance), I would definitely make that a once per year priority.  Ours is this week and I am itching to get my hands on some of the materials.  The one I go to is a Christian based conference, but they have everything in the expo hall, not just christian materials.  If I had to drive three hours once per year, I would make a weekend of it and get there just for the peace of mind that I can spend as many hours as needed leafing through the materials before committing!

post #8 of 11

I feel your pain.  Some stuff you can buy and return but that isn't the same.  Calvert, for instance gives you a 30 money back guarantee but that's a lot of money to shell out at once, even if you do get your money back if it doesn't work!


Pandia Press (Science Odyssey and the previously mentioned History Odyssey) does have the nice six week free plan, as does Tapestry of Grace.  Epi Kardia charges 25 for theirs...non-refundable but can be applied towards a set of plans should you choose to buy.  It was 25 well-spent to know that their plans aren't a good fit for us.


The conventions can be a great place...the problem is that in some places there are not many exhibitors at these.  I live in a big city and there is one coming up in June or July but out of all their offerings only one item interested me.  Some of the smaller companies stay only in their region of the states...some bigger ones don't come out here at all.  It's very very difficult at times, I really do understand!

post #9 of 11

Yes! i feel the same way...i was so intrigued by Enki, that I purchased just their Math first grade package, just so I could see it and get a feel for it.  I have to say that I am really glad that I didn't dig into our savings to buy a $$$ curriculum that probably would not work for us.  The math package was a binder full of fairy tales, and a binder of cuisenaire/manipulative worksheets, but really no information or instructions on how to implement it.  I was really confused, and when i emailed them to ask about this, they said that the information on implementing it was in the foundation guides, which i would then have to purchase.  The stories are nice, but we have TONS of fairy tales already....and much of the cuisenaire worksheets I have found online for free and printed out.  And the four process stories are sweet, but you can also find similar ones of a waldorf style at   http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/gnomes_and_gnumbers_a_mathematical_tale/     and print them out for free.  Lesson learned for me, but I am out $75....and find that for what it is, it is seriously overpriced!

post #10 of 11

We had one local teacher store that sold some curricula, but it closed recently.  I feel like the problem we are discussing underscores the value of these online forums!  I've always been able to come to MDC and ask people if a particular product is what I think it is before I buy it.  People responses have always been right-on, so thank you MDCers!

post #11 of 11

I put my own curriculum together with stuff I find for free on the internet.

We do buy reading/chapter books because we're also in a rural area with NO library mecry.gif


I print some of the stuff I find. Some of it we use straight off the screen. Some of it I just use as a guide to write up our own worksheets or activities.

We also use lots of YouTube videos for science and history.


Doing this means investing a few hours every week into looking for stuff. Sometimes I find things that we probably won't use for several more years, but I'm slowly getting our entire school library together on all free stuff.


I understand that this would be difficult if you're short on time, but there's a lot of really good free stuff out there if you have the time to hunt.


If you're interested, look at my blog, I link to all my findings.

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