guest post by Elaine Mingus from Radical Christian Woman
During my first year of homeschooling, we used our dining room table. I didn’t want to rush into repurposing our unused back room until I had a clear vision of what I wanted.
By my second year, my homeschool room was finally ready for learning. Or so I thought.
The photos from the first day in our new schoolroom could have appeared in a brochure called “What Homeschooling Should Look Like.”
Now, almost seven years later, my homeschool room is a far cry from those early days. It has become cluttered with stuff I thought would be great for learning, but only ended up causing mess and frustration. Random board game pieces sit in tupperware waiting to be sorted, puzzles seem to always be missing that one piece, and books sit unread since the day they were purchased.
I’ve set out on a quest purge the chaos from my homeschool room and regain the sanity stolen by my constant cleaning.
As I set aside things to donate or sell, I notice common homeschooling mistakes I’ve made when purchasing supplies for my school room.
10 Things You’ll Regret Buying for Your Homeschool Room
1. Poor-Quality Books
One of the patron saints of homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, calls them ‘twaddle.’ Poor-quality reading materials have no real education goals, talk down to a child, are predictable, too easy, or tedious.
Many times, we buy books based on a movie character our children like, or we buy them solely for their beautiful illustrations while ignoring the lack of substance.
Books like Junie B. Jones may ignite a love for reading, but we really want to keep an eye out for high quality reading that not only entertains, but also challenges and inspires children.
Encyclopedias were THE thing when I was growing. My family had a beautiful (and expensive) set.
Today, with the internet being so widely used, it’s nearly obliterated the need for physical encyclopedias and dictionaries.
My children are taught how to use these reference books, but honestly, they haven’t had much need for these skills, thanks to Google.
3. Too Many Learning Toys
Whether it’s sorting different shaped blocks, a plastic clock for telling time, or an abacus, too many toys can be the bane of a homeschooling room.
At the store, toys make grand promises. But a week after purchasing, we find most of them thrown haphazardly under a child’s bed, never to be played with again. Toys can be useful, but less is more when it comes to toys.
Too many can overwhelm a child, especially if they are disorganized. Editing our toy collection can bring peace to both the children and mom.
4. Rolling Chairs
Little toes and wheels. It’s just not a good combination.
My children use rolling chairs to zoom around the house, or they spin each other into a nauseous state.
I recommend just sticking with a good ole’ fashioned legged chair.
5. Things You Will Only Use Once
When you are at the store, take a moment to ask yourself, “How many times will my kids really use this?”
At all cost, avoid romanticizing the item.
You may hope they put together that world geography puzzle for years to come, but the truth is they may only put it together once or twice.
Downloading a free geography app on your iPhone will create the same affect without all the clutter.
6. Things You Can Borrow
If you really want to have something that you think you’ll only use once, try borrowing it.
Metropolitan libraries often have puzzles, CDs, and DVDs available to check out.
If you don’t have access to a well-stocked library, consider borrowing an item from a fellow homechooler.
7. Nice Furniture
Public school use industrial tables and chairs. Park benches are bolted to the concrete.
Kids are rough on furniture.
Even the most diligent child might accidentally mark on furniture while coloring. It would be a shame if the item that gets damaged is an expensive heirloom piece that can’t be replaced.
Inexpensive and kid-friendly furniture is the best choice for your homeschooling room.
We buy much (if not all) our schoolroom furniture at IKEA.
8. Too Many Things that Accomplish the Same Goal
I could supply an army of children with different items that help with multiplication tables. We have charts, flash cards and Learning Wrap-Ups…all for multiplication.
Choosing and sticking with one item that accomplishes a specific goal will help keep your homeschool room clutter-free.
9. Expensive Supplies
Why buy the expensive version of something, when the plain one will due?
Unless you notice a real affinity for a subject, keep the supplies simple and affordable. The standard writing and art utensils are relatively cheap and easily replaceable.
With a little imagination, simple tools can go a long way.
10. Complicated Items Or Things with Too many Pieces
One of my biggest homeschool frustrations are complicated items that always requires parental assistance and seem to always have pieces that go missing.
School items or toys that are complicated or consist of too many pieces should be purchased with extreme caution. One exception is Legos, which is a homeschooling toy that is actually useful.
Final Tips for Avoiding Homeschool Room Clutter
Adding items to your homeschool room is fun and exciting. Seeing your children learning from them is an absolute blessing. But we don’t want to waste our hard-earned money on things that will end up in next year’s garage sale!
If you aren’t sure about a purchase, go home. You can always reconsider and return to the store. If you’ve already purchased an item and immediately notice that your children aren’t utilizing it, many stores have a 30-day return policy for items that you aren’t totally satisfied with. Return it for the sake of your sanity and your students.
What are some homeschool items that you regret buying? Are there any on this list that you don’t regret buying? Why?
About Elaine Mingus
Elaine Mingus is a head covering Christian woman who loves wine, good coffee and stinky cheese. Her favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. She is a Christian author, blogger, and speaker who fell in love with her husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In her spare time she homeschools her six children (5 girls, 1 boy). She blogs regularly at Radical Christian Woman.