Online texts and curriculum materials are becoming the norm from many homeschool curriculum providers. These are usually in a PDF format so they are easy to read on a tablet or computer, but they can still feel limiting for some students. These tips can help you determine which materials you should print and the most cost effective way to do so.
What's the Age Group?
Many digital curriculum materials come with fillable forms, which allows your child to enter their answers directly into the text. While this works great for older children, who are often accustomed to doing a lot of work on the computer, it can actually be detrimental during the early elementary ages.
Younger children need to practice their hand writing and develop their fine motor skills, so too much time on the computer can slow down their progress in these skills. It can also be difficult for a young child to keep track of their place on the screen if they must write the answers on a separate piece of paper. For young children, paper copies often work better.
How Intense Is the Curriculum?
Intense curricula, such as history or science texts, can be difficult to study in depth on the screen. If the text will require lots of flipping back and forth to learn the material or answer questions, a hard copy is usually a better option. The digital version can also be limiting if your child will need to study out of several books at once, such as when working on research or another cross-referenced project. Moving between screens and keeping everything organized is often challenging for young scholars.
Do You Need Everything Printed?
One benefit of digital texts is that curriculum providers can give you large books for a lower cost—that is until you go to print it. Fortunately, in most cases you won't need to print the entire book. To manage printing costs, consider the following:
- Print only the workbook pages—these are the pages your child will actually need to write on.
- Opt for black and white printing on pages where color isn't necessary to convey the information.
- Skip unnecessary pages, such as the cover and intro material.
- Print only the units from the text that you will be using. You don't have to print every chapter.
You can further minimize printing costs by choosing a lighter-weight paper. Often, it's less expensive to have larger texts professionally printed by a service like Nite Owl Printing instead of printing them on a home printer. Many printing services allow you to send the files you need electronically, and then you can pick up or have the printed text delivered. This also lets you take advantage of binding services, or saves you time if they print on pre-drilled paper that's binder-ready.