Christmas is just around the corner, and while most people don’t really think of homeschooling supplies as Santa’s first choice of a gift, there are many wonderful books, science kits, art supplies, and unique online programs that would delight most children and provide welcome relief to a parent’s strained homeschool budget.
Throughout the years, I have discovered many incredibly useful, online, homeschool suppliers, and I thought this holiday season would be a good time to introduce everyone to a few of my absolute favorites. I have relied on these sites not only for the purchase of outstanding materials but also for research and inspiration in the development of Aristotle and Archimedes’ various lesson plans. I will be featuring one site per week for the next four weeks.
This week’s featured favorite “go-to” resource for finding great curricula and loads of inspiration in absolutely every subject is the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. This incredible service was started by Brett Walker, a homeschooling father, who recognized that homeschooling individuals could receive similar purchasing discounts to those enjoyed by many school districts by working together as a large buying group. The co-op is completely free to join though their website can be viewed in its entirety without joining the group giving potential members an opportunity to see what types of products and savings are offered before deciding to register. Joining the co-op requires no commitment from you; it simply offers you the ability to make purchases through the co-op’s very user-friendly website.
The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op offers a myriad of products in virtually every subject homeschoolers study from world languages, math and science, art and music, and history and social studies. They even offer deals on special needs products and driver’s training programs. The various offerings include access to online programs such as Plato Science, Adaptive Learning, or Youth Digital, access to discounted purchases and delivery of physical textbooks, math manipulatives, or science equipment, and access to discounted purchases and immediate download of educational pdf files. While many of the programs are available only for a limited period of time or require a minimum number of buyers, I have found that most products become available multiple times a year at the maximum discounted rate due to the popularity of this service. They also feature many free products and a “SmartPoints” program for additional savings.
Each product has a detailed description of the item with links to the developer’s website for additional information. The website will alert you to opportunities to try a product prior to purchase if such a trial is available through the product’s developer. The co-op’s listing clearly indicates whether the item is a physical product to be mailed to you, an access code, or a downloadable file and details the time frame for delivery of the product as well as the price of the item. The co-op covers its expenses by charging a small fee (usually in the one to five dollar range) on top of the product’s listed price. This additional fee is clearly disclosed in the product’s listing so the buyer knows exactly what his or her costs will be when assessing whether or not to purchase a specific item.
I have purchased many products through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and have always had a smooth and easy transaction. The one time an access code did not immediately appear in my mailbox was a situation which their customer service representative corrected in a matter of minutes. The savings I have gained from this site has allowed me to purchase additional materials for our school that have significantly enriched our overall homeschool experience.
One of the best aspects of this wonderful service is the ability to thoroughly evaluate a product before purchasing it and to assess a large number of similar products in one sitting. For example, when searching for a science curriculum, I prefer a secular program. At the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, I can easily review a product, and if I find that the curriculum in question is religiously based, I can simply move to the next product on the page. It really is a wonderful resource for finding a large variety of materials within a given subject, and it has frequently been a valuable reference for finding a number of different types of products to complete an area of study.
Some of the products we have purchased through the co-op have been subscriptions to Thinkwell math programs, Wordly Wise, Intellego Unit Studies, and Driver’s Education. Many of these programs were purchased at a significant discount and all were immediately available and problem-free transactions.
I hope you will stop by the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and spend some time browsing its many offerings. You just might find a gift or two for the special people in your life!
Next week we’ll look at my favorite science supply site: Home Science Tools