Traditional Textbooks Have Value in the Home School Too

Wait a minute, this is a 2007 textbook? I thought Pluto wasn't a planet anymore?

Really, textbooks are more than just a bland tool of the traditional public and private school model of education. When dissected, and looked at from a different perspective they can prove to be a valuable tool for homeschoolers too for a variety of reasons.

After all, it is that time of year again when homeschoolers have been scrambling to pick out new curriculum for next year. Pouring over publishers’ sites, reading peer reviews and reaching out for the opinion of fellow homeschoolers. Unfortunately, much of the curriculum offered to homeschoolers comes with a rather hefty price tag for a family on a budget.

Topic Starters

Especially for science and social studies, traditional textbooks serve as great topic starters to engage in independent learning. What makes them such a great tool on this level is that they written at the students reading levels and usually contain engaging graphics and more.

Reading a short 5 to 10 page explanation of the food chain in a science text could quickly lead a child to search out more on food chains. Then, with your help, they are developing the skills to educate themselves as they search out through books and other media the information they are seeking.

Unit Study Starter

As a home educator, you can use a textbook as a unit study starter to develop a curriculum for your child that suits their needs. Most textbooks contain vocabulary words, chapter/unit reviews for comprehension and understanding and additional reading selections. With this work already done for you, you just have to seek out the projects, writing assignments, trips etc…that you want to make up your unit.

I often find that one of the hardest parts of designing a unit of study for my kids is narrowing down the topic of interest and keeping the study to the point. Basing the studies off a section of a textbook ease that process. Otherwise, we could easily spend our school year focused and lost in one topic.

Comprehension Assessment

Though I prefer textbooks that lean more towards being a literature book rather than reading or language arts for this purpose, a textbook from this family can prove to be a quick, painless and easy way to monitor the reading comprehension of your children. These textbooks usually follow the stories or reading passages with a number questions and activities to carry out to check the child’s level of understanding of what they have just read.

Independent Learning

You know I was one of those weird kids growing up that just ALWAYS wanted to learn. My teachers had an arsenal of above grade level textbooks to hand over to me when I had finished one. With math in particular, I would dive into the text in my down time at school and my free time at home and self teach. I wasn’t satisfied just lagging behind because I was above the level of my peers and the beauty of textbooks is that they are written so that a student can learn the basics of whatever topic they are interested on their own and then turn to you, the instructor at a later date to help them expand that knowledge.


Traditional textbooks are a GREAT value for the home school setting considering all the ways they can provide. Now, I’m not speaking of buying the books brand new from the publishers, but rather purchasing them at ridiculously low prices used from places such as or scouring your local thrift shops and used books stores (particularly in the summer) and snagging them up for $.50 like I do.

You really cannot beat the value when purchasing the literature/reading textbooks because of how many books along with what would likely be a pricey teacher’s comprehension guide from a home school curriculum retailer, all for the cost of one book. In fact, there is over $100 dollars worth of children’s books along with poems, artist studies, a play and great response questions all in a single third grade literature textbook that I paid only $.50 for.

No Teachers Manual Required

When snagging up these super cheap and useful tools, don’t worry about the teachers manuals, they are pricey and overrated. I personally have review a variety of textbook teacher manuals from language arts, science and math and can tell you that they leave much to be desired. Most contain short scripts for presenting the information but do not expand the topics being taught at all. So, all you need is the textbook and the ability to search out further resources, preferably free to instruct your child.

So next time you lament over public education, remember that it is not necessarily the tools that they are given that are failing the students, but the manner in which they are used. Next time you get a chance, pick up a textbook and see how easily you can incorporate it into your budget education plan.