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My Favorite Educational Resources, Part 1

  • Debra Bell Columnist, author and conference speaker
  • 2002 9 Mar
My Favorite Educational Resources, Part 1

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It is clear to me from the activity in the HomeSchooling Forums that finding out what resources other home schoolers have enjoyed using is on most folks’ minds. That got me thinking about all the various products I’ve tried in the past 12 years with my four kids. I’ve come up with my "Top 10 Most Bang for the Buck" recommendations and maybe some of you will want to post your own Top 10 in the folder as well. Here goes:

Library Cards
These are absolutely free aside from the hefty fines I’ve paid over the years for overdue items. Magazines, books, videos, references materials, inter-library loan, Internet access, meeting rooms, special programs, the annual used book sale. We’ve made maximum use of all the resources available to us not just in our community but in our state as well. We love visiting other libraries when we travel and we are on a first name basis with a lot of librarians.

The Internet
I can't remember how we home schooled before the World Wide Web. Our greatest source of continuing conflict in the family is over Internet time. I’ve found games, worksheets, entire books, science labs, advice, contests, etc., all on the Web. My sons have taken three online Advanced Placement courses over the Web with excellent teachers. We’ve practiced our foreign languages at international sites. For families in a rural setting with support groups and libraries some distance away, Internet access has leveled the playing field. The robust opportunities of the home-school network are now available to all online.

Figure It Out: Thinking Like a Math Problem Solver
Kids work through 6 levels of workbooks designed to teach a range of problem-solving strategies. And all for about $3.00 a workbook. Published by Curriculum Associates (, I bought mine through PA Homeschoolers ( My three teenagers scored quite well on the math section of the SATs, largely because they learned to solve these kinds of mathematical problems with Figure It Out workbooks.

History of Us series by Joy Hakim (Oxford University Press)
This 10-volume series by Joy Hakim (Oxford University Press) retails for $130.00, but is widely available at discount from us ( and many other suppliers. Unfortunately many Christian suppliers have ceased carrying Hakim’s books because of her less-than-conservative take on recent political history (i.e. she didn’t like Ronald Reagan). The latest edition has attempted to tone down Hakim’s rhetoric on polarizing issues. But I just can’t see tossing out the baby with the bath water when this is such an immensely readable and entertaining record of our very fascinating national history. I have my kids read all 10 volumes before beginning high school. No one ever balked at this assignment.

Books on Tape
I am addicted probably to audio books - especially those told by a captivating narrator - and so are my kids. What we can’t find at the library, we rent from Recorded Books ( I find that my kids and I will listen to books on tape that we would find too challenging to read on our own. That’s my first approach to the classics. And it is also how I’ve pushed my kids towards the next reading level as well. Books on tape especially are useful for those of us who must do school in the car, because of the busyness of our lives. And I’m not just talking fiction here; we’ve used books on tape to master science, history, and cultural information as well.

AAA Membership
For a mom on the road alone with a van load of kids, the peace of mind that membership in an auto club provides is indispensable - especially when you are a mom who forgets to turn the lights off. Other than the towing privileges, I also make full use of the free maps, trip planners and tour books. Even if we don’t actually visit a site, we can learn geography, history, and cultures with these publications.

Stay tuned: Next week, my last 4 resources. I’m hoping to see what is on your recommended list first.

In His Sovereign Grace,