When I first started considering this homeschooling idea, I did a great deal of research. I spent time reading books, following bloggers and talking with experienced homeschooling moms. Much of the advice revolved around the idea of taking it slow. Don't over plan. Don't get stressed out. It will all fall into place as you go. And don't buy too much stuff.
As you can see from this picture, I didn't really listen. I just couldn't see the harm in buying more than I would need. I had plenty of space to store the materials, after all, we built an addition on the house for the sole purpose of homeschooling. (Well, I also wanted a dining room, but the homeschooling need allowed for both.) I figured if I couldn't use the stuff right away, I would eventually be able to use it all. Plus, most of it was picked up at used book sales and through homeschooler resell lists, so the cost was not always a big deal. The problem here is not that I have too much stuff or that it cost me too much. The problem is that I can't plan efficiently when there are too many choices.
I have been cleaning out my classroom now that our official schooling days have ended. I have a fairly organized room; there are bins that I use to separate material by subject. Part of my clean-up has involved going bin by bin, subject by subject and writing up a brief summary for each boy so I'll know what we covered and where I want to start in the fall. As I went through each bin, I would find materials that we either didn't use or barely used. This brought on enormous waves of guilt, both for the wasted purchases and for the opportunities I felt we had missed. At first I tried to figure out whether I could use some of it next year. I found a Phonics workbook I had barely used with EM. It's labeled as a second grade book, so quite a bit of it is material he already knows. I moved it back and forth from the 'to use' pile to the 'pass on' pile several times. As I kept digging, I found that I had not only that unused Phonics book but FIVE of them that would have been appropriate to use this past year. As I flipped through each one, I found many perfectly wonderful pages I should have used. But I didn't. And now I have made the decision that I won't. Because no one can use all of the excellent material that is out there. No matter how many days and how many children you teach, there is too much available.
I have almost finished the classroom part of my cleaning. I'm rearranging a few things and cleaning as I go. The office is another story. It has been slowly filling with things I have picked up at sales this year. When I begin that project, I will not keep more than one version of any subject material. I will not be buying much for next year. There are about five things I know I need to fill in a few gaps in our math and writing plan. Singapore math workbooks, Key Curriculum Press workbooks and possibly Handwriting Without Tears. (I'm still on the fence on that one.) I will not buy things just because I might need them. I know that with internet access available, a fantastic local public library and loads of our own books, there isn't much out there we could need.
So this is my public commitment to cutting back from now on...
...unless I find a really GREAT bargain. :-D