The following is a post from Tabitha.
I have piles of ‘educational’ materials. Some are from when I was in college. Some are from when I was teaching, whether it was student teaching or subbing later on. I never did teach full time (other than homeschooling, of course.) Some are used materials teachers gave me, including the samples that they received to review.
Some were gifts from grandparents or other family trying to supplement our education theme. Some are materials other homeschoolers have given me, whether it was because they were sending their kids back to school or because they didn’t like it or even because they were ‘done’ with it. Some are stuff I couldn’t resist, either a great deal or it just looked SO great that my kids would have to love it.
Over the 15 years we have considered ourselves to be homeschooling, you can imagine this has amassed into quite the collection… and you would be right also in assuming that we can’t possibly be using it all even though we have 6 different levels of “school aged” kids.
Some I kept because it was all we had at the time. Some I keep because someone will like it sometime. Some I keep because dang it, it was free. Some I keep because it is just so colorful. Some I keep because it was expensive. Some I keep because it looks nice on the shelf… can you see where I’m going here?
If over 15 years I haven’t used something, I need to get rid of it. Call it homeschool decluttering. Call it purging. Call it Judgement Day.
All my kids have different learning styles, and I think that’s why we tried different things at different times. Even considering this, there are things that we just don’t use. Math manipulatives, EVERYONE uses. Math books? Not so much, especially in the early years. (and I was a math teacher, so I had collected a LOT of math books… )
After looking at this mess collection of homeschooling materials, I realized I had to have some criteria of what to keep, and what to get rid of. In addition, before ADDING to my collection, I needed to have some kind of idea to help me decide whether to get it in the first place.
This is where fun or functional came in. I wanted everything in our homeschool curricula to have some element of fun AND functionality. Some things were all fun… this, my friends, to me, is a TOY and we didn’t want it in our homeschool stuff… though many of our toys have educational themes…
The main point is, you have to decide what YOU need in your homeschool repertoire. What criteria will you judge by whether to keep or toss? Do your kids like it? Would you miss using it or miss seeing it on the shelf? Do the kids still quote from it? Do they beg to use it even when it’s not time for school? Is it something you pick up again and again? Is it something you are excited to use again from one year to the next? If not, maybe it’s time to clean house!
Some examples for me are the Life of Fred math series, The Story of US history books, the fraction circles, our collection of unit blocks, some of our board games, and anything Magic School Bus. What are those things that meet the FUN and FUNCTIONAL (or whatever criteria you use) standards for your family?
That reminds me. I think I need to go through those math books AGAIN.
Tabitha (wife to Tom, homeschooling mom to 8+ kids ages 15 to ‘on the way’, learning something new all the time).<