Decluttering 60% of our homeschooling materials became a matter of survival.
For two years I ran the curriculum room for a charter school hybrid homeschooling program. Being the first to operate the “warehouse” of materials, every good and bad purchase passed through our house. Sample products were available for my family to try out, and I am afraid to say, many of school’s rejects became part of our classroom environment.
At the end of my term as curriculum director, I had some serious decluttering if I wanted to get back to my style of homeschooling. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the two years. I had the opportunity to hold the best and the worst in homeschool materials. The premise of this hybrid homeschool charter school is to match the right style of materials to each student’s learning style, ie. to find kinesthetic math curriculum for a student that is an all hands-on learner.
However, my home office became a warehouse, a library, a store, and a mail delivery station. About $140,000 worth of curriculum passed through my house both years. That’s a lot of cardboard boxes and packing cushion.
For the next eight years of hour homeschooling, I have decluttered my way out of the excess. And finally this year, I have a my own space again. As much as I loved the opportunity and I learned so much about homeschooling curriculum to assist me in homeschool academic advising, the toll on my personal life has been incredible.
Just because it is great materials for someone else, I don’t need to keep it in my space . . . if I can find it in less than five minutes on the internet to show one of my advisory families. Let It Go.
If I have a duplicate that I prefer . . . Let go of the lesser quality version.
If my kids have tried the materials and it just did not click . . . Let it go. It may look INCREDIBLY engaging to me, but there are some areas of study that we just won’t get around to studying together. We are life long learners, maybe they will return to it with their own children.
Do I want end up leaving the curriculum chaos for my children to sort through in another forty years. (Really? Do I think my kids will use these materials with their own children? There will be great new curriculum developed in the next two decades, they need to be free to choose their own.)
My revelation. I wanted to own my life.
I wanted to reclaim homeschool time with my kids. I wanted to advise other families through the charter school or the science group. I was tired of shuffling boxes from one side of the room to the other. I was tired of spending the first day of every holiday, reorganizing the curriculum collection. I started down the path of the Minimalist Homeschooling. I was already living towards this in our family life, but the curriculum office was on overload.
Reading Becoming Minimalist, the story of Joshua Becker was a moment of clarity. I had already started the path of decluttering our home, had the same “garage” revelation moment in our garage, but I had never seen the curriculum office as another “garage.”
From that day forward, I started applying the “four basket method” to the office. Thirty minutes a day, I sorted through a stack, a box, a shelf . . . until I started to see progress. I dove in with a full day of decluttering and started to breathe. And finally, this winter, the curriculum office is now my Lifelong-learning space. I still have two shelves of my core curriculum for advising. But I also have my photography back out, with camera and recharger available. I have a station for calligraphy study all set up, a desk for the science club management, a basket for the puppy and his toys, and a huge table for homeschooling to happen for our family.
It is still a work in process. But I no longer feel the burden of holding onto curriculum samples that could bless another family or that did not work for us. I also feel like I can breathe as I enter the room. The burden was mental as well has physical.
Today . . . it’s a Homeschool Science Club day. I don’t have 30 minutes of decluttering, instead I have 30 minutes of my own self studying for this afternoon. Come Friday, I will put in another hour towards decluttering, but today I am homeschooling with my kids.