Libraries Supporting Homeschooling Families, Part 2

Today’s post returns to the topic of libraries serving homeschooling families, which I first addressed in a post two weeks ago. In particular, let’s take a closer look at a few practical services public libraries can offer specifically for homeschoolers.

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Programs for Homeschoolers
Offering programs geared specifically toward homeschooling students and parents is a great way to connect with these families and provide them with information and activities that will benefit their particular situations and needs. One of the best ways to reach homeschool students is by offering programs that help them to utilize the library’s resources to help them with their studies. For example:

  • A library scavenger hunt to familiarize students with the library’s in-house collections and resources

  • Library skills workshops to help students to best utilize what the library has to offer

  • Sessions highlighting the library’s online resource collections that introduce students the vast amount of (credible and reliable!) online information available through the library, as well as best practices for searching these resources – check out the NDSL website to see all the great online resources available to North Dakota residents.

  • Storytime programs for younger kids and book clubs for older students give homeschoolers and opportunity to engage with other students outside of the home setting

  • College prep sessions to help homeschool students with applying for colleges, applying for scholarships and financial aid, and preparing for standardized tests

Many of these programs would also be of great benefit to homeschooling parents as well, either as separate programs geared specifically toward parents, or with parents included in the same session as their students.

Collections for Homeschoolers
In part 1 of this topic we addressed getting to know the homeschooling families that utilize your library, talking to them to find out what curriculum they use, what they use the library for, and asking what the library can do to better serve them. One service aspect where making these person connections is most beneficial is in developing a special collection for homeschoolers. Talk with these families to find out what resources the library could provide that would be most beneficial to them. There’s no way to feasibly meet the diverse needs of all the homeschooling families in your area, but there’s likely to be a good amount of overlap in the types of books, teaching aids, curriculum kits, and other materials that families might find useful to have in a special collection for them at the library.

For libraries interested in exploring this topic further, the book Helping Homeschoolers in the Library by Adrienne Furness spurred many of the ideas given here, and is a great resource available for checkout from NDSL. For homeschooling parents and students, our friendly and knowledgeable NDSL training team (a.k.a. Steve) will be at the North Dakota Home School Association conference in Jamestown in March – stop by and chat with him to find out what NDSL and your local public library have to offer.

Work cited:
Furness, Adrienne. Helping Homeschoolers in the Library. Chicago: ALA, 2008.

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