Monday, August 11, 2008

Finally Shopping for School Books

I have been uncharacteristically procrastinating over choosing next year's school books. Now, I KNOW I procrastinate about a lot of things, but choosing books isn't usually one of them! In years past, once the kids are done with the school year, I spend time we would have spent on lessons going through my ginormous Rainbow Resource catalogue, circling every single text that interests me for any child. Then I winnow the lists down until I have covered all the subjects for each child, and place an order. I usually have all our books here by the 3rd or 4th week of July, at the latest.

Not this year! I have been basically pretending that September is never going to come, and so there is no reason whatsoever to choose books. Yes, I have felt pangs of guilt about this. Yes, I have told myself again and again that I need to get moving. And yet, somehow something more interesting comes up every time--including scouring the kitchen sink, sewing Brownie patches onto Julia's vest, and watching grass grow!

But face the music we all must, and my wakeup call came in the form of my letter from the school district, accepting the fact that once again, my kids are opting out of their wonderful system. In short--time to file paperwork. So I have to have my plan together.

Now, this year I am doing things differently. I have mentioned my love of the Rainbow Resource catalogue. The reason I love it is simple: it has about four thousand choices in every subject and grade level, and because the family that runs the business is a huge one, they have personally tried every product in it. So each has a lengthy description of its strengths and weaknesses, and which type of kid does best with it. I love that! Most of the time, when shopping for texts, the goal of the company is to sell the book. Therefore, everything written is pretty positive. One great thing about homeschooling is the vast choice we have over which books to use--but that's also a drawback because it can quickly become overwhelming. And once you spend a bunch of money on books, you're loathe to stop using them, even if they aren't working. With Rainbow, I have a better chance of making great choices.

HOWEVER. To say that the family who runs the business has "different ideals" than we do is putting it mildly. We are homeschooling for educational reasons. Religion plays absolutely no part in our homeschool. And when your husband is a Ph.D. scientist, talk of creationism does not exactly go over too well. In this catalogue, evolution is a nasty word, books are put down for mentioning magic or fantastical elements, and curricula that include Bible study are the norm. They have a whole section for teaching your daughters how to be meek and subservient----do I even need to say how well that goes over with me? I even saw a few books that bashed Democrats as being "evildoers who are using their liberal agenda to make money..." ??????????????????

So in years past, Matt has suggested that we might not want to funnel our money into the pockets of this family. I have always told him that it is by far the easiest way to order books, and while we do not see eye to eye with them, at least we are supporting a homeschool family business. However, this year I (for once) do not have a toddler or infant sucking up my time. My kids are at a much more independent stage than they ever have been, leaving me more time to search out other options. So I did go through Rainbow, but rather than automatically buying from them, I searched Amazon, Overstock, and ebay for better deals. And I found them. Even when I was charged for shipping, the totals still came out to be some fraction of Rainbow's prices. In several cases, I bought used copies in new condition for a penny, with $2.99 shipping--where the book in Rainbow's catalogue was ten or twelve dollars!

It's a messier process, that's for sure. I can't just enter in thirty five items with Rainbow and get one giant box. I had to spend a couple of hours searching for and comparing prices. I had to check out several times. I will be getting books in a dozen shipments. And I placed bids on ebay--so those books I could lose and be back to square one. However, so far I have spent $112 on books that in Rainbow would have cost $206 so far. I am not finished, but I feel better now that I am on the way.

And it even makes me the teensiest bit excited for the new school year.


No comments: