Category Archives: Home Education

5 Great Ways to Sell Used Homeschool Books

*This has been a popular topic, I followed up here, here and here with some earnings reports and more tips.

I’ve purchased a lot of books both new and used over the years and I’ve kept non-consumable books in excellent condition with an eye toward recovering value for them. There are some books that just don’t have value once used and I just try to pass those on to friends or donate them.

As tempting as it is to try to recover close to full value for your items, you might have better success if you knock a few dollars off the price in consideration of the following: the value you obtained from the item, the value in clearing out some space, the value in simplifying, the value in letting go, the value in sharing with others who might not be able to afford the item at full price, the condition of the book, the edition and the time and energy and cost in shipping.

In no particular order, here are the best ways that I’ve found to sell used curriculum.

1. Local Homeschool Curriculum Fairs:
Chances are, you have a chance to attend a local homeschool workshop or curriculum fair. Usually, the organization takes a small percentage of the sale but you can set your own prices. This type of venue attracts a lot of new and veteran homeschoolers on the hunt for used books. They understand the cost of buying new and shipping and often know exactly what they’re looking for. If you’re going to take advantage of this opportunity, be prepared to check in early and wait until the end of the day to receive payment and collect your unsold materials.The disadvantage of this method is that you have to drag your books to the sale, wait around to get paid, drag the unsold items back home (or donate them) and label everything in advance.
2. Amazon:
You can’t beat the exposure on If you aren’t in a hurry to sell, it’s easy to list books and set your price. You can also see what price others are asking. Be honest about the condition of the book. Amazon collects a small commission on the sale price and reimburses a portion of the shipping cost. Your earnings are clearly stated when you list based on your asking price. Be sure to set the books aside and ship materials promptly. You can have fun with this and be creative about “naming” your store. Mine is called “Being Home Books“. Fun!
I have also sold books on, a division of ebay. I’ve had better turnover on amazon so I haven’t used this site since. You’ll need to set up an account but it’s also very easy to list books. Same advice applies: ship promptly, honest description, fair price. I think this site only keeps a small percentage of the shipping fee charged to the buyer.
4. is a moderated yahoo group specifically for Catholic resources. I have seen secular and other Christian resources listed but I’m not sure if their guidelines prohibit that. You’ll have to register on yahoo and request permission to join the group (a brief description of who I am and how long I’ve been homeschooling was sufficient in my case). Aside from the normal courtesy guidelines, I don’t think there are restrictions for listing curriculum (how often, how many items or a requirement to purchase something first). I just looked at few posts and followed their examples. You can set your own price and decide who pays shipping. If you accept paypal, it’s worth the small commission to avoid the hassle of waiting for a check to clear. If your buyer does not use paypal, and you’re willing to take another form of payment, ask for a money order.
5. Local Homeschool Lists:

If you don’t have a go-to person who seems to have the email address of every person homeschooling in the region (like I do), you can search Yahoo for local homeschooling groups in your area. These can be general or specific (perhaps for religious groups or area of the city). Again, these are usually moderated and require permission to join.I love Craigslist but I haven’t had a whole lot of success selling books. I try not to list anything on Craigslist valued less than $25 anyway.What are your best tips for selling used homeschool books? Please share!
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Linking up:

The Shabby Nest

Heck Yeah, I Home Educate…..

Otherwise, how could my kids possibly answer these questions….From an actual conversation

“Who would you rather be married to….the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Hamburger Helper Hand?”

“Who would you rather have as a dad, the Burger King or Ronald McDonald?” Mark chose Burger King because who wants a clown for a dad and if Burger King were his dad, he’d be a prince. Excellent thought process, Mark!


A Case Against Standardized Tests

I’ve been arguing for years that parents have been hoodwinked into believing that standardized test results are relevant. They aren’t.  This article supports my opinion.Because I homeschool, people always ask whether my children have to take standardized test. They do in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade. They do very well and even though I know this has nothing to do with what they’re learning-truly-nothing. It always seems to reassure those people who really think I’m surely ruining my children by not sending them to the local public school (at least for now).

When is everyone going to realize that standardized tests are a business? Period. They are nothing but a measure of how well an industry has convinced a nation that test scores are relevant to a child’s intelligence or future success-which they aren’t. They also are a pretty accurate measure of how much a student has practiced taking any particular test. I scored respectably on the SAT’s way back when but I took it cold without ANY prep. I didn’t have the resources or the support. I barely got to the test and barely afforded the sitting fee. This is not to minimize anyone who scores well. I commend their dedication. The industry also has powerful lobbies and corporate influence. It’s the primary reason President George Dubya pushed “No Child Left Behind”-which has done more to discourage great teaching than any other factor in my view. That’s my 2 cents.

How a Homeschooled Kid Likes Public School

Hannah’s about one month into her public school experience. As a homeschooler, I always wonder whether my children will be prepared for traditional school if they had to go. I always knew Hannah would do well in school and she is. I don’t take credit for it. I don’t not take credit for it. I just have always known that Hannah would meet challenges, rise to the occasion and do fine.Her core classes are math, science (physical science), social studies and language arts. She also has gym once a week (yes this is graded-not pass/fail-huh?). Finally, she has art every day (her major). She has A’s in almost everything. The one class that she doesn’t have an “A”, she set a goal to have an “A” by the end of the sememster and I’ve never known her NOT to meet a goal. She’s adapting fine to the commute (about an hour, give or take 5-15 minutes) and the LOOOOOOng day. She wakes up about 5:40, we leave the house by 6:55 and she doesn’t usually get home until 4:45.

She gets along great with everyone in her class. The junior-high boyfriend/girlfriend drama is starting already. Even though most of these kids have only known each other for a couple of weeks, they think they might be in love. Hannah’s a witness to all of this-not interested as of yet. I believe her.

There are some girls who openly discuss s*x and which boys they’d have it with (in 8th grade). Again, Hannah is appropriately offended by these types of conversations. It not only grosses me out and worries me but mostly makes me sad that young girls think they have to be this way to matter. Hannah doesn’t. The tricky part will be for Hannah to opt out of this type of conversation without being targeted as odd. We’ll see.

There you have it. Overall, it’s been positive for Hannah, with the exception of the odd happening here and there.

Worth Repeating and Where Have I Been?

This is a super quick post just to pass this link along about the movement to unschool higher education. Good links in that article. Read it.

It’s been a while since I posted ANYTHING. I’ve been busy this summer enjoying the kids and the break from school work. I’ve been finishing up and starting projects.

Some of the work has been tedious and time-consuming (making 6 new box cushions for our couch in the mountains…WITH PIPING AND ZIPPERS! Some of my projects have been spur-of-the-moment like rebuilding a tiny brick wall that houses flowers right by my grill (see above). Some other projects have been hanging over my head for a while (like the dresser I needed to paint for Hannah, the chair I wanted to reupholter-OH YES I DID- and the bedroom I wanted to repaint. Sorry I haven’t posted about those things. I think seeing what others are accomplishing is incredibly motivating but I’ve been so wrapped up in getting stuff done that I haven’t wanted to take the time to post about it. Also, we’ve been getting to our mountain house nearly every weekend since baseball ended for some work and play. Making progress there-yippy.

Hannah is getting ready to go to a charter school next week. I’ll try to post about that transition for our family. (Sniff sniff and “YOU GO GIRL!”-I’ll miss her for sure but am so excited that she has this opportunity). The rest of us are looking forward to a fresh start with school work. It’s been a good summer.

March Madness Redux

From the Archives: I don’t have much to add to this-except since Mark now works on Thursday and Friday, it’s not a whole day off and the kids (boys especially) have been scrambling to get their regular school work done in order to become couch potatoes starting at noon.

Who doesn’t love Mach Madness? I’ve loved the excitement of everything leading up to it and the tournament, itself since high school back in the “Phi Slamma Jamma” days. I didn’t start filling out brackets until graduate school and only then discovered how it made you care about ALL the games-not just your favorite teams.

As a mom, I still fill out my bracket. I don’t watch all the games, but I’ll sit down here and there to catch some of it. I love how it unites the family in a shared experience. Even Kate, who has no interest in the X’s and O’s of any sport, makes her picks and likes hearing who wins and loses. I think last year, she almost won the 6 bucks!

The Thursday afternoon that the tournament starts is one of the times that I love that the kids aren’t in school. Tip-off 12:20, pick your seat, grab the snacks. I’ll go to the mat defending this experience as education-though I don’t count it since Thurs. and Fri. are our typical weekends. This is the type of 3-D, real-world, delight-driven learning that grows the brain.  Handwriting, spelling, reading, math (what are the odds of Robert Morris winning the tournament, what’s the score-how many does RMU need to tie it up?) social studies, (wonder how Chief Kicking Stallion Sims got his name), physiology, language arts in its most applied, authentic form, all integrated naturally by the conversations that go along with it and topped off by the more frequent trips to the driveway hoop during time-outs and half times. Mind you, I don’t instigate or hijack any of the above naturally occurring “educational” moments, they happen spontaneously and usually without any input from me. I would never ruin the experience by trying to schoolify the tournament, I’m just saying they’re learning.

Admittedly, I don’t have much wisdom to offer to the chatter and pontificating since I don’t follow basketball all season but I love to listen to the conversations. I’m telling you, neurons are firing and brains are growing because its relevant. Maybe not relevant to the world-at-large, but March Madness is relevant to our world for the next 2 weekends and I’m grateful for the tradition.


A Great Article About the Value of Play in Learning

I saw this article today on the CNN homepage. It basically supports nearly everything I’ve ever read about learning. No matter what makes sense, though, I’ll never convince school officials that worksheets and textbooks aren’t the best way to learn. As a result, I include a bunch of worksheets in the kids’ portfolios at the end of the year. I used to include samples of their best work but realized that it was largely overlooked because the school official was looking for the worksheets and quizzes.

A few interesting quotes from the article:

Programs centered around constructive, teacher-moderated play are very effective. For instance, one randomized, controlled trial had 4- and 5-year-olds engage in make-believe play with adults and found substantial and durable gains in the ability of children to show self-control and to delay gratification. Countless other studies support the association between dramatic play and self-regulation.

Though I largely agree with this statement, I would argue that spontaneous, un-moderated play-such as that which happens in a homeschool is even more effective. The less adult intervention, the better. It’s difficult NOT to insert our ideas into spontaneous activity in order to “schoolify” it or make it a teachable moment, but I think it’s wise to stay out of it and let the kids tell you about it later if they want to. 

And another quote:

Through play, children learn to take turns, delay gratification, negotiate conflicts, solve problems, share goals, acquire flexibility, and live with disappointment. By allowing children to imagine walking in another person’s shoes, imaginative play also seeds the development of empathy, a key ingredient for intellectual and social-emotional success.
The real “readiness” skills that make for an academically successful kindergartener or college student have as much to do with emotional intelligence as they do with academic preparation. Kindergartners need to know not just sight words and lower case letters, but how to search for meaning. The same is true of 18-year-olds.

Again, I would add that children have a better chance of acquiring the skills mentioned without adult meddling. Specifically, I’m looking at the “live with disappointment” part. I think it’s very difficult for parents to allow their children to experience disappointment and they’ll do anything to buffer it or “fix” it. I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t be supervised-especially at a young age-but children will learn whether an adult is there to qualify it as learning or not.

As the article summed up:

“As admissions officers at selective colleges like to say, an entire freshman class could be filled with students with perfect grades and test scores. But academic achievement in college requires readiness skills that transcend mere book learning. It requires the ability to engage actively with people and ideas. In short, it requires a deep connection with the world.”

Wasn’t Charlotte Mason saying this over 100 years ago? Thought so.

So what if I’m validated, good luck trying to convince the Pennsylvania legislature (or the Federal Government which is now proposing universal preschool-I’m guessing not the play-based curriculum) that some conventional education practices aren’t working.

"But What about Socialization?"

Ah….the million dollar question! Admittedly, this was my main concern when I heard about kids being homeschooled. I cringe when I think about my vitriolic reaction and my narrow view of kids being shut in with their over-bearing, radically religious mothers all day. This isn’t what homeschooling is for almost EVERY homeschooler I’ve ever had contact with. People homeschool for all different reasons and keeping kids away from other kids is rarely heard of.

I guess the question becomes how my kids learn social skills. In the early years, the concern was how they would learn to take turns, not speak out of turn, and get along with others. I realized very quickly that these traits were rarely a problem with homeschooled kids. The few times our little homeschooling group has gone on field trips, we always get complimented about how well-behaved, engaged and courteous our children are-even the little ones. Complete strangers often compliment my children on their good manners or behavior. It’s happened in restaurants, church, department stores, and even weddings where they’ve been the only kids.  When these same people find out that they’re homeschooled almost always ask the question…”But what about socialization?” Even relatives have gone out of their way to tell me what a nice 2-way conversation they had with one of the kids and in the next breath ask AGAIN “How long do you think you’ll homeschool?”

I don’t think homeschooling produces perfectly socialized kids 100% of the time. I’m not even suggesting that my children are perfectly socialized. But I can comment about a few observations.

I live in a neighborhood where the kids are evenly mixed between Catholic school and the local public school. With a few exceptions, their social circles are dictated by the school they attend. In other words, they tend to hang out with the 1 or 2 kids who are in their grade in their school. I realize this is natural, I’m not making a judgment, just an observation. My kids have friends in both schools and have never been teased or ostracized by either group when they play with kids from the other group.

When Kate was younger, she had friends from all different places. She got to be friends with the sister of one of Luke’s teammates, another sister of another friend, her cousin and a homeschooled friend who lives across the street. What was nice for her is that she has always preferred playing one-on-one or in a very small group. On a few occassions, a few of the kids would be in the same swim class or tennis class or “Little Flowers” group and it was nice for Kate to be with more than one of her friends and they got acquainted with each other. I guess my point is that she didn’t have a problem making friends or getting to know kids even though she’s never attended school.

I think Luke felt the loneliest at home for a few years and I used to pray for a boy his age (who liked to play sports) to move close by. I’d say there were 2 years when I really wondered if I was doing him a disservice by keeping him home. Not to say he was completely isolated-he still played football and wiffleball with the older neighbor boys and have friends over after school but he really felt lonely sometimes. Partly because he just didn’t “hang out” with the older boys.

This really isn’t an issue anymore. He is content having different friends from different parts of his life. He also is getting to be good friends with a great kid (2 years older) who lives in the neighborhood. This boy and his brother (who is a year older than Mark) have been playing with my boys off and on for a couple of years but for some reason, they are just becoming better friends. Even though this kid is 2 years older, I don’t worry about him influencing Luke in a negative way. He’s a great role model. I can tell Luke really looks up to him. I also think this other boy appreciates how nice and fun Luke is. There just isn’t any of the typical garbage. I found out not too long ago that this boy has been bullied relentlessly in school and wants to transfer to the Catholic school. Surprising since he’s very athletic, handsome, smart and all around nice. How could he be bullied? But he has been.

Hannah, who will be 13 soon, is just starting to feel like she wants to be with a gaggle of girls. It surprised me because she really is an introvert. Right before Christmas, she thought she might consider going to school next year. Once she got a cell phone, though, she felt connected and it satisfied her need to be a part of a group-for now. She texts a few friends but I think the format really suits her. (she can connect when she wants but isn’t obligated to spend hours with someone).Honestly, I think her status as being out of the loop but knowing people in a few loops is perfect for her personality type. She’s learning a lot about group dynamics by sometimes being immersed and sometimes observing. So, we’ll see. For now, she’s decided to stay home for next year. In my state school districts have to allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities, so this might be something she decides to pursue in the meantime. One other observation is that she also is friends with kids from both schools.

Generally I won’t say there aren’t concerns about my kids fitting in. When given the opportunity, they fit in pretty seamlessly. I’ve found that the conventionally-schooled kids sometimes aren’t open to it-or maybe just don’t think of it. In terms of behavior, I’m generally happy with how my kids present themselves. Sure, I have to correct them or talk to one about being hyper-sensitive about different personality types. Lots of times Mark likes to be the center of attention so I have to talk to him about that but I don’t think he’d be any different if he went to school.

Do you know Sir Ken Robinson?

If you’re a homeschooler or a parent you should watch this talk by Sir Ken Robinson at a TED conference. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Thought-provoking, no? (I’d like to know how you get invited to one of these conferences. Not to speak…just to listen. If you click around the site-and it’s worth clicking around, there are some brilliant and inspiring ideas which aren’t in the mainstream-and I think they should find their way to the mainstream).
Robinson wrote a book called “The Element How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”  The book is as entertaining and thought-provoking as his talk. I’m drawn to books that support the notion that the brain is dynamic and that we are hard-wired and driven to learn in spite of our circumstances. He challenges the value of IQ tests and the big business of standardized tests-even SAT’s. He demonstrates that the paradigm for “education” is so limited and limiting in Western culture that we are losing our natural capacity for creativity. A characteristic that is critical to innovation.
I’m loving the book and the problem for me after reading something like this is how to apply what I learn in mothering and educating my own children. It’s tricky because while I do trust the notion that given the opportunity, people will find their own passions, being more likely to find their “Element”. The problem is that in this state, I have to cover certain subjects and record in a pretty conventional manner so the district sees that the kids are learning. In other words, it’s difficult for me to articulate the physiology and education that I know occurs when, for example, Hannah spends 4 hours painting a detailed picture or Mark spends 2 hours listening to a quality book on tape for the 3rd or 4th time. In my view, Hannah is clearly in a zone, which is an optimal state of cognition and similarly, Mark is synthesizing something. These days, I think it’s rare for a kid to do anything relaxing (other than a screen) for more than 15 or 20 minutes. In spite of knowing intuitively that these kinds of activities are valuable and critical to their education, creativity, development and growth, I often feel obligated to interrupt what they might be naturally drawn toward so they can get their “school work” finished for the day. This book, along with “Simplicity Parenting” gives me a reason to allow the spontaneous to happen and to continue in our days. It also makes me regret stressing about some of the 3 R’s and not spending more time on the arts. I’m thinking a lot about our next school year and I think this book will support my plans to simplify the seat work and explore a little more.

"First" Day of School

Hannah had her first day of school this week. She was thinking before Christmas that she might want to explore the possibility of going to school. Since then, she all but talked herself out of it, but had talked about shadowing a friend at the Catholic school. She decided to go through with it mostly because the principal, teachers and her friend were enthusiastic about it. I was all for it-even though my preference wouldn’t be for her to go to middle school. I think 7th and 8th grades are particularly challenging for girls. I’d love if she did high school at home but understand if she felt like she wanted spontaneous interaction with kids her age. I also think it’s easier to participate in extracurriculars when you’re in school. Not that it’s impossible but I think there might be a barrier to her fitting in completely even if she played a sport at the school or did some other activity. But it’s worth exploring if she’s inclined.
She had a nice day. The teachers and kids were all nice. She knows a lot of kids who go there. Since we go to church there, she sees lots of the kids and a lot of kids in our neighborhood go there. She was wiped out at the end of the day and had a lot to tell. All good. In spite of all of that, she’s still sure she doesn’t want to go next year.
She did look so cute walking up the driveway with all the kids. They surrounded her in a nice way and welcomed her wholeheartedly. It would be great if she could go 1 or 2 days a week or some other part-time situation. I’m sure the principle would be happy to have the tuition.
She felt completely up to speed and on par with her peers in all the subjects even though she didn’t know ahead of time what they were studying. I felt good about that.
I was happy that she was able to have the experience. It was a good day, but I was glad to have her home again.