Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tip of the Day -- Used Curriculum Sales

This tip may not be a new idea to some of you.  But hopefully there are some new homeschoolers reading this that can learn something new.

It's the time of year when homeschool groups everywhere are hosting Used Curriculum Sales.  Used curriculum sales can help you save money on your curriculum needs, and they can also help you make money for more curriculum if you sell your old curriculum.  (I can't write about that, because I've only sold mine online.)

If you aren't part of a local homeschool co-op or organization, do you know someone in your area who is?  Ask them about any local Used Curriculum Sales.  If you don't know who to ask, you can even Google "Used Curriculum Sale" followed by a comma and your state or a nearby large city.  I did this for my state, and I found information on several Used Curriculum Sales in my general area.

Once you've located a Used Curriculum Sale in your area, you need to make a plan.  To be honest, we usually go about this the simple way.  We withdraw the amount of cash we can afford to spend, and I make a list of items I'd like to find, and the cost of those items if bought new.  Then we arrive at the sale, and we begin walking row by row, table by table.  I'm always leary of buying early for fear that I'll find the same item at a better price or in better condition later.  Unfortunately, this means that sometimes I miss out on the item completely.  By the time I ascertain that it is the only copy or the best copy, sometimes it is gone.

However, I've seen others who are more organized than I am.  I've seen them give portions of their list to their teenage children or husband (with prices they are willing to spend), then dividing  up to search for specific items.  Each person was responsible to try to find specific items.

I've seen them with duplicate lists dividing up to start at opposite sides of the room and work toward each other in the middle.  This method works best if you have walkie talkies or two cell phones to communicate with each other, so you don't buy the same thing and you can discuss what you're willing to spend as you shop.  (The walkie talkies also work so Dad can know how long he has to keep the children happy, how much Mom is spending, or how much longer he'll have to wait.)  This can be done with your husband, an older child, or another homeschooling friend you share lists with.

I've seen one woman with a detailed list of specific curriculum she wanted.  At every table, she asked the seller if they had these curriculums.  If they said no, she moved on.  If they said yes, she would ask which grades they had.  She was very organized and could easily skip past crowded tables if they didn't have what she wanted.

Regardless of which method you use, realize that it will be very crowded.  Tables will be full of books, some more organized than others, and tables will be surrounded with other buyers.   Come prepared with your lists, cash, patience, and something to carry your purchases in.  I usually take tote bags because it's easier (although heavier) than maneuvering wagons or strollers around.  If I had one of those black suitcase on wheels, or a milk crate on wheels (have you seen those at conferences yet?) I'd probably use it.  But I use what I have ... and when one tote bag gets full, my husband usually takes it away for me.

If you have a baby you'll be taking with you, I recommend you use a baby carrier instead of a stroller.  If you must use a stroller, try to use an umbrella stroller instead of a large stroller that will be difficult to maneuver through the tables and will get in others' way, as well.  We usually leave our children (except the baby) with Grandma and Grandpa.  This allows us both to work the sale without having to worry about losing a child, or keeping children happy, and we can better concentrate on our shopping this way.

I usually move through the whole room, buying big curriculum items (if the price is right) that I need as I go.  I do not buy smaller items that might be nice to have until I've been through the whole room. I want to be sure I have enough money for the things I need.  Once I realize I've bought all the items that were available from my list, I can go back and pick up the smaller items that can supplement our curriculum.  This is easier to do, if you make note of which row/table the items were in.  Otherwise, you may be wandering for awhile trying to find something you saw earlier, during which time it may get snatched out from under you.  Honestly, I'm usually wandering around trying to find that "one more thing I saw".  This year I will try to make a list.

But more than the lists, more than the tote bags and baby carriers, more than the walkie talkies ... the most important thing is to pray.  Pray that God will help you find the curriculum you need.  Pray that He guides you to and provides you with what He knows you need, and not what you think you need.  And don't forget to thank Him for the items He provided, when the sale is over.

April E.  (ElCloud Homeschool) is a Homeschool Mom of 6.  She has homeschooled for over 7 years, and enjoys sharing the things she's learned in her homeschool journey with others. 

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