New shop offers resources for home-schooling families

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Nov. 12, 2012
Robin and Dave McCleary offer resources to home-schooling families throughout the region at the Curriculum Coop. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Robin and Dave McCleary offer resources to home-schooling families throughout the region at the Curriculum Coop. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Home-schooling families – or any family with growing children – now have a new local resource for textbooks and other educational materials. The Curriculum Coop, which opened Nov. 2 in the Slater Mill Mall, aims at helping home-school teachers and their students find reasonably-priced materials to enhance their learning experience.

The shop is the brainchild of Robin and Dave McCleary of Griswold, who have been home-schooling their four daughters from the time their eldest, Melissa, was in second grade. “I was searching online for a business like this,” said Robin. “When I did not come up with one, that got the wheels turning.”

Dave said that the store will offer textbooks for all levels of students, from preschool through college. It also offers general-interest books, educational games and materials such as flash cards, and books for adult readers. There’s a shelf of faith-based books and one featuring videos and DVDs. “We wanted to make it a little broader than just home-school,” he said. “Most of our hardbacks are $5 or less.”

The store will take books on a quarterly consignment basis, offering sellers 25 percent of the sale price in cash or check, or 40 percent in store credit. Dave said that the store hopes to serve as an outlet for books by local authors: currently they have Glen Alan Cheney’s “Thanksgiving” prominently displayed for the upcoming holiday, along with “Grant the Ant,” a picture book by Suzette Bessette.

While families looking for curriculum materials can find “amazing resources” online, the results can be hit or miss, and may not fit an individual child’s learning style, said Robin. Internet shopping can’t compare to “the ability to come and sit down with a stack of books and look through them,” she said. “It’s a great thing when you’re trying to pick out things for your kids.”

The store features a country theme, with framed alphabet prints by Vermont artist Mary Azarian and a light fixture fashioned from canning jars. The shelves are slowly filling up with books and there’s a computer in one corner, but there’s also plenty of sit-down space for the shop’s Saturday story hours. Tutoring in a variety of subjects will be available, thanks to Melissa McCleary, who recently graduated with honors from the University of Connecticut.

Robin said plans are afoot for a community bulletin board and a barter board, where parents can trade skills such as tutoring French for violin lessons or other educational opportunities. She said she’d also like to see special interest book clubs, open to anyone in the community, meeting at the store. “We have high hopes,” she said.

The Curriculum Coop is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.

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