When we started home educating…
I, like most parents just starting out, (or as each September rolls around,) assumed that we needed all of the stuff being sold to us because how else would our children learn?! So I set about consuming every learning resource going - from educational puzzles to science goggles, craft sets, to ceiling globes. And don’t get me started on workbooks and curriculums, I bought them by the truckload, every time I found some more..
I continued in this vein for years, filling up shelves and cupboards with various resources, books stacked higher and higher in a never ending tower of preparation. And it was all great on the surface, look at all these things we had! But the truth of it was, the children rarely used these things at all. They didn’t want to be sat neatly in chairs, they wanted to be free - to roam, to play, to be.
They played with the things they actually loved, they read the books that were well and worn, they practiced writing on the chalkboard and wrote maths equations in the sand. They were also far too busy discovering the world outside, to think about coming in. The truth of it was, they had more than enough without all of these things. I knew it and yet, I was the one holding on.
I couldn’t give up the cupboard of resources that I had lovingly spent time and money on. They were my lifeline, even if they did make me feel inadequate that they weren’t being used.
And so I held onto them whilst making room for more. I held onto hope that one day, we would suddenly start wading through all of the workbooks like I had imagined, or that our Pinterest homeschool room would make us the worthy homeschoolers, I wanted us to be. It didn’t really matter that these resources weren’t looked at, I just took comfort knowing they was there.
However when I started simplifying my life, I knew that I had to simplify our homeschool. It had become a clutter catch for all the things; things that I bought to strew, things that I hoarded to entice and things that I held onto, just in case my kids wanted to be scientists, trapeze artists or chefs one day.
Yet I’m pretty sure they couldn’t think straight in this cluttered space, let alone work out what they wanted to be when grown. Plus they were people now right, with values and interest and dreams. So why was I cluttering our lives for their maybe future selves, instead of embracing the beings they were today?!
I realised that if we hadn’t picked up these things in previous years, it was unlikely we would pick them up now. So I started simplifying our resources, both in real life and online - down to what we actually used. And I started to feel free. Once I began it was liberating and empowering. But I also felt like I’d failed somehow because we weren’t the homeschooling family, I thought that we would be.
We didn’t sit for hours at the table, or know the times tables off by heart. We didn’t have workbook upon workbook to show for our efforts. But I realised, that we had something more. We had children that were learning by living, that were thriving not just surviving, in short they were happy and I realised that finally, the sparkle in their eyes was more than enough.
Once the cluttered homeschool space was out of our home, we realised the freedom to be found in surrounding ourselves with only the things we loved and used. And can you believe, later down the line we actually discovered some workbooks we liked, by only having enough for now.
I stopped hoarding the ‘just in case’ items and no longer bought resources for a tomorrow, for when they were older, or for when they suddenly became interested in Pi. We started to embrace the moment we were in and we all felt the benefit, of learning and living this way.
The homeschool items which once gathered dust, taking up a whole room, a wall cluttered with cupboards and more, are now intentionally placed throughout the home. Readily available in baskets or shelves, for little hands to explore. We decided to made outdoor learning a priority. It is something we do alongside learning at home, not an afterthought when the kids are bored.
And I’ve discovered that there is far greater comfort to be found, more than could ever be given in keeping the things we didn’t use. Something that the kids were showing me all along. The time and space to enjoy our home educating journey and the interests we have now, in the moment we are in, right here where we are.
I have a simplified resources list coming soon, for those who’d like to know more. Do you homeschool and have you found the same with buying all the things?