When it comes to homeschooling, there seems to be an overwhelming idea that more is better, After all, you are the school and you need tons of resources to provide an environment capable of meeting the needs of your little scholars, right? As a new homeschooler (and even as a veteran), you read blogs and watch YouTube videos of other homeschoolers and the majority have dedicated spaces, even whole rooms, exclusively for homeschooling and its supplies. In these spaces you see tons upon tons of shelves, boxes, and binders full of traditional school supplies (e.g., crayons, pencils, paper, notebooks), textbooks/curriculum sources, readers and other books and educational kits and projects for the kids, books and resources for the parents, and so on. You see thrifty and creative homeschool mama’s shopping hauls where they proudly display even more of the supplies they buy to enhance the educational opportunities for their children. And then there are the virtual homeschooling spaces. Oh boy. Between blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook groups… you name it, there are a ba-zillion ways to store information digitally. Will you be able to find it when you need it later? That’s the question! Overall, if you’re a homeschooler or you’re looking into becoming one, resources are not an issue. In fact, the opposite is true.
As a newbie, I fell into the trap of following what seems to be the traditional way of thinking when it comes to homeschooling — the more, the merrier. Over these two years, I’ve bought loads of, I’m just going to call it stuff, to help me teach and inspire my kids and, I have to be honest, I haven’t used the majority of it. Do you know why? I didn’t have a real plan for the items before I purchased them. I thought we needed to have most things just in case because, you know, all the successful homeschoolers had them. I threw my regular ‘less is more’ thinking to the wind and my “oohhh! This is so cool! I gotta have it!” homeschooling mama brain took over. What the latter left me with are oodles of resources that just sit there because I was impulsive and didn’t know what I didn’t know. You know? When you begin homeschooling, regardless of how prepared you think you are, you’re going to have to find what works for your family, and that means that you may or may not need to buy a lot of stuff. If I could do it over again I’d make more of an effort to sit on making a decision to buy something (even for accepting freebies!) to grow in a way that honored me and my family’s overall goal of intentional, passion-filled living. For us, that would mean wayyyyy less homeschooling stuff.
Here are some ways that, looking back, I could’ve done things differently:
- Used the library instead of having a robust at-home library of books we don’t love or read, for that matter
- Shared the real life, every day tools and supplies I use instead of buying kid-sized, pretend items for the kids
- Involved my kids more in homemaking tasks instead of buying tons of toys and games that they don’t play with
- Used places like Office Max to do my copying and laminating instead of having needing lots of printing supplies or a laminator
- Joined a homeschool co-op or created group of other homeschoolers (or other families) where we could share resources amongst each other instead of buying things ourselves
- Took advantage of free or inexpensive workshops, classes, or programs instead of buying kits or books that simulate the same thing
- Established a window of time needed to make a decision about a purchase instead of buying on a whim
- Saved links for far less online resources as to not get lost in a sea of information (this one can be tough!)
- Found ways to learn in the natural world more often instead of buying online programs and books to teach them
Those are just some examples of moving away from the stuff that still provides loads of educational opportunities, but doesn’t leave me with the task of managing the items and possible buyer’s remorse. Personally, I will be pairing down our homeschool supplies (blog post(s) to come!) and limiting future ones, both physically and digitally, because I can see how having more than we need is wasteful for my family. Every family has to find their own way and sometimes that means having more homeschool items at home. That’s OK. However for my family, I’m putting my ‘less is more’ cap back on from now on. More life, less stuff. That’s where I want us to be.