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Home School Detective

Updated on April 29, 2014

Welcome to The Home School Detective

Historically, the home school is the original school and despite so called "advancements" in learning technologies and educational processes, the home school is still the best choice for the vast majority of families.

This Squidoo Lens provides just a brief introduction to the home school alternative. You will find basic information about the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of home schooling below, along with a few of the lessons we've learned while teaching our kids at home and exploring the world around us. I also share information about homeschooling, parenting, self-improvement, lifestyle design, and more at

This endeavor means nothing without you, so please share your comments, questions, ideas, and experiences. Let's make this interactive!

Best wishes in your endeavors!

P.S. If you like what you see here, please hit the Like button! Thank you...

[Photo: Guy, the author of this lens, via I actually snapped this sweet scene while stopped at this small lake for lunch. This father was attentive, kind, patient, and playful with his son in a way that I'm certain made this outing a special time whether or not they caught any fish. Time with our kids is precious!]

Helpful Home School-Related Links

Here are some of the links I refer to for home school information, products, legal assistance, and other resources.

If you've had experience with these or any other related sites, please share your comments about them in the comments section below. We can build this list together!

Thank you for your interest and input.

Ways to Save Money on Books (and other learning materials)

Money-saving tips for home schoolers and college students


Fresh Squid-like Update: I just received word that AbeBooks is pulling out all the stops with their before school sales. I've purchased textbooks through AbeBooks and they've always had great service and fabulous prices.

Now's your chance, home school and college-bound students! Go to Home School Detective ( and check the textbooks on Sale at AbeBooks!


As you most likely already know, textbook sellers and school bookstores are generally way out of whack with their book prices. In a way, they're like airport restaurants because of their complete lack of pricing and competitive connection to the rest of the markets in which they might normally compete.

You don't have to surrender your wallets to the high priced gouge masters. There are alternative sources for textbooks and other learning materials. You'll find a few listed here, but I am certain there are more. If you've found other sources, please share them with the rest of us in the comments section below.

First, a few friends of mine have recommended Chegg (, which offers rental services for textbooks. While I don't have personal experience with Chegg, I've heard a lot of good things about them.

Second, as a suggestion based on my own experiences with textbooks, get the ISBN list and prices for the books you need from your college or local bookstore, and then Google those ISBNs in search of other sources. Just a short hunt can reap tremendous savings.

Third, look especially for what are known as "international editions" of textbooks because the ones targeted at the U.S. market sport huge overcharges. As an example, I took a class in late 2009 for which the college bookstore sold the text for over $180. I spent about 15 minutes comparing other booksellers and ended up getting the exact same text, packaged for the non-U.S. market (i.e., it had a soft cover instead of hard!), for less than $30, which included the 2-day shipping charge.


In the case above, I used BIGWORDS ( and my experience was all positive

I've personally found tremendous savings and great service at Amazon ( and AbeBooks (, but it is certainly worth checking other sites. You will find that most sellers offer the best price on one or two books, but not all the books on your list. Shopping pays!

Here are a few places worth checking (ranked alphabetically, not in order of preference):

- Alibris (

- BestBookBuys (

- CheapestTextBooks (

- CourseSmart ( (they specialize in eTextbooks and claim to be number one in that market)

- ( (although I think their "Best Price Guarantee" is a little cheesy, since it only pertains to books sold directly from Amazon)

I've researched all the sites above, and each has great prices and good feedback.


You may also want to compare your results from the specific sites listed above to what you find at site that searches online booksellers for you. Just enter your search term (e.g., title, ISBN, author, etc.) and let the search engine do some of the legwork for you. These look promising:

- CampusBooks (

- CampusBooks4Less (


As you shop, you need to be careful to ensure you're getting the same edition, etc., but the bottom line is that there are alternatives to the ridiculously high-priced college and local bookstores.

Happy Hunting!

Your Home School Detective

Recommended Resources for Your Home School

You don't have to spend a lot of money -- in fact, you really don't have to spend any money -- to have a successful home school.

The resources I've listed below are ones that I recommend either because we've used them personally in our own homeschooling journey or they've risen to the top of our list based on research. The recommendations that we did not use are ones that we either wish we had used or were not available at the time; some of them came around after our kids left for college.

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education

This one is out of print and the listed price at Amazon is ridiculously high. Still, this book has one of my highest recommendations, so find a used or library copy, or borrow it from a friend. The author does a great job explaining when kids are ready to learn and when it's simply too early to start.

School Can Wait
School Can Wait

Also by Raymond Moore (see Better Late Than Early), this is a great addition to your homeschool library.


Tell Us About Your Home School - Which of these options most nearly describes your approach to home schooling?

There are as many ways to conduct home schooling as there are families, but for the sake of this poll, we will limit the responses to just four styles and a Wild Card category.

You have the option of commenting, so please take a moment to explain your choice. Your reasoning may help others adjust or adopt a whole new approach.

We look forward to your input!

Let the voting begin!

Once you've voted, please take a moment to tell us about your choice. Thanks! --Guy

See results

Common Core is Coming... - ...It's time for parents to take charge of their kids' education.

Sold as a fix for America's broken public education system, Common Core has instead added to the list of reasons why parents should return the education of their children to the original "school" -- the home school.

I recommend you watch the full documentary (the link below), but if you're wondering what it's about, you can view the official trailer here.

Common Core is not what its selling points suggest.

From the producers of "BUILDING THE MACHINE - The Common Core Documentary":

"In the documentary, both proponents and opponents will present their perspectives so that you can draw your own conclusions on this important educational issue."

More Homeschool Resources - Top Picks from Your Host

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 (Prima Home Learning Library)
The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 (Prima Home Learning Library)

This book is packed with creative ideas for educational activities that will boost your homeschooling success. Parents can adapt these fun activities to meet the needs of their children and enhance learning in science, math, history, and other arenas.

Homeschooling For Dummies
Homeschooling For Dummies

I am a huge fan of the "...for Dummies" books. While homeschooling is certainly the realm of those who are not dummies, "Homeschooling for Dummies" is a great addition to the bookshelf, especially for parents who are just starting their homeschool journeys.

Experienced homeschoolers may also enjoy this book as a source of new ideas for their schools.


Current Deals for Homeschoolers on eBay - Resources for Learning and More...

Some of these deals come and go quickly, so grab them when they're available.

We conducted our homeschool with very little expense, partly because we took advantage of great deals on previously owned books and other learning tools.

Be sure to share your buying success and ideas in our comments section below!

Guestbook - Please share your comments and suggestions here.

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    • Guy E Wood profile imageAUTHOR

      Guy E Wood 

      4 years ago from USA

      @Lynkay: Hi, Jylamanne --

      You're right about books of all types being expensive. I'm grateful for the availability of low-cost retailers, re-sellers, and as you reminded me, libraries. We carted many armloads of books home from our local libraries for our homeschool, I can assure you!

      Thank you for reminding us about libraries! What a great resource.


    • Lynkay profile image

      Marilyn McKay 

      4 years ago from North East, Victoria, Australia

      Books both class required and pleasure can be expensive when home schooling (not encouraged where I live) or government/private schooling. I loved your tips for sourcing cheaper books, but would like to add a Library as an inexpensive alternative, especially for College/University study. My daughter has found this alternative useful when money is short at the start of a school term.

    • Guy E Wood profile imageAUTHOR

      Guy E Wood 

      4 years ago from USA

      @Sundaycoffee: Glad the tips have helped, Sundaycoffee!

      Higher education is expensive enough without overspending on textbooks, for sure. I've had very good service from Abe Books over the years and saved hundreds of dollars in the process.

      Thank you for stopping by and best wishes for success for you and yours!



    • profile image


      4 years ago

      My girls are in university and college respectively, so these tips for buying less expensive textbooks come in handy.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      6 years ago

      Where we live home schooling is not an option, I don't think they allow it. I admire the discipline and fantasy of all the parents who do home school their children.


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