Monday, January 2, 2012

Tips on what to save and what to consign

As the books crowd on the shelves and the educational games, manipulatives, and other resources spill out of cabinets and closets, the inevitable predicament of "what to do with all of this stuff" becomes a higher priority. Do you consign, disgard, or save?

As a homeschooled homeschooler, one of the unique perks that I have are all the books, supplements, and other resources that my mom saved from my homeschooling days. Her foresight has saved us a ton of money when it comes to buying curriculum. But obviously, not all items are worth saving. So here are my tips on what to save and what not to save, what has benefitted us the most.

What to Save
1. Charts and flashcards.
This item is at the top of my list of money-savers. These items have been a tremendous blessing. I am using phonics flashcards, phonics charts, math flashcards, number cards, and alphabet cards—all from the time I learned to read, about 25 years ago! Not only do these items typically store well, but they are not likely to become outdated. If you can, laminate them to make them even more durable.

2. Reading books
Most reading books make great items to save and pass down. I own nearly all of the readers that my sister and I used through the elementary grades. Though new editions will undoubtedly have been printed, the assignments are not too hard to match up. And, for the money it saves, I'm willing to plot out a few of my own lesson plans to match what we've learned with what we ought to be reading. Besides, you can never have enough good quality reading on the shelves.

Note: The small beginning readers that are nothing more than stapled paper did not age very well, and the cost of replacing them was very inexpensive. These kinds of beginning readers might be better shared with another homeschooler or consigned.

3. Manipulatives and teaching resources
One of my favorite items to inherit was not even actually a "homeschool" item. My parents taught children's church for a number of years and owned a large felt board with the Betty Luken Bible story felts. Though I don't often have the time to plan and use the felts themselves, we use our felt board nearly everyday with homemade letter and number felts. To have bought a felt board for our school room would have been out of the question. Inheriting it was a tremendous blessing!

Many of the teaching resources that you have, particularly those that were an investment for you, are probably good items to save and pass down. The exception might be certain types of technology. But many math manipulatives and learning games are perfect items to store.

What Not to Save
1. Consumable texts
Though, depending on your state, it might be valuable to save your student's work for a certain number of years, definitely by the time your child graduates the value of storing these items is diminished. Because they are written in, the value of reusing them is limited. Feel free to toss these items, unless you have managed to use them without writing in the books (we used spiral notebooks for nearly all of our answers and rarely wrote in a text).

2. Non-consummable texts
These items could actually go either way, depending on the subject, grade level, and content. Literature texts and high school anthologies are actually great items to save. History texts, on the other hand, are very soon outdated. Consider time-sensitive content when making this decision. Most likely, it will be at least 10 to 15 years before they are used (even more for a high school text). Modern history will be greatly outdated; much of science may be irrelevant except on the most basic levels. On the other hand, math is always math, and language arts is another static subject for the most part.

Another element to consider are new editions of the text. If you are not able to save the curriculum and all other components that accompany a text, it might be extremely difficult to pair the item with future products. Is the item a stand-alone resource? If not, consider blessing a current homeschooler or consigning the product.

3. Technology
So much of our homeschooling these days revolves around some aspect of technology: DVD schooling, computer applications, electronic games, etc. Consider how fast technology changes when deciding what to store. A few items will be similar to fisher-price toys and will always be "in-style." I am continually seeing toys from my childhood that are still on the market many years later. However, other items are outdated nearly as soon as we've pulled them out of the packing material they were shipped in. Many of these fascinating learning tools are best shared while the technology still exists; share or consign them.

If you do decide to store a learning game or other device, be sure to remember to take out the batteries, or all of your efforts will have been in vain.

Some of you may not be able to envision your children carrying the homeschool torch at this point. Just getting them to graduate is battle enough. Your children may have even vocalized that they will never homeschool their kids. But keep in mind that a LOT changes from the time a child graduates to the time when they have kids of their own. And something miraculous happens when you are holding your infant in your arms for the first time, contemplating their future potential.

The child who fought you all 12 years may surprise you by their decision to be a second (or third) generation homeschooler. Having what the right materials on hand to get a homeschool started might make all the difference.

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