Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Reducing Homeschool Materials We Own

As part of getting ready to move half way across the country I am getting rid of thousands of books and educational materials. Yes, I said thousands.

The plan is to buy a smaller home than we have now. Here in New England I have a full unfinished basement twice the size of the home I grew up in. That is a lot of free storage. I have many closets and "under the eaves" closets also. Having the room to store things makes it easy to stockpile.

At one point I got confused about what I owned and didn't own so I started an Excel spreadsheet as new things came into our home. When I had extra time I inputted what was on the shelves but I ran out of time and never put it all on the spreadsheet. Still, that spreadsheet totals over 8000 items right now. Also though, as I started to let go of stuff in 2010, I didn't want to take the time to take the items off the spreadsheet. So, the spreadsheet is out of date.

A few years ago I joined LibraryThing.com and bought a lifetime membership. I log the books into their online database and it is a nice visual presentation and it is a better way to sort than Excel. That has over 3000 items on it, over half of what I own is not there, and I didn't have time to put more in. I mostly just logged new acquisitions. Now that is out of date also as I've not erased the things I've gotten rid of already.

I bought a ton of inexpensive stuff in times when we were house-poor and when the finances were tight due to unemployment or under-employment. Continuing homeschooling was a top priority in our family so getting materials ahead of time for cheap ($1 or less) or free, made sense. Since I have more than one child I was also saving the stuff used with the older son for the younger son. Now that I enjoy teaching at homeschool co-ops I am thinking "maybe I should save that to teach a class at a co-op with" which makes letting go hard, though!

In 2003 a parochial school was closing and they were throwing their library in the trash. The principal was homeschool friendly and invited homeschoolers to take what they wanted. I came home with a van full of just over one thousand free books, mostly nonfiction.

I have rented two tables at a homeschool used curriculum fair being held in about two weeks, and will sell the homeschool curriculum that I think someone may actually want. I'll sell children's living books that others doing classical homeschooling and the Charlotte Mason method will appreciate. I am also going to cull my "how to homeschool" books as with one entering homeschool high school and the other entering sixth grade I don't need this inspiration any longer. I just hope this stuff sells. I'm giving it away for a song, with many books priced at 50 cents or a dollar and with expensive curriculum for sale at bargain prices.

My friend K spent a day here last week trying to help me cull the books. She encouraged me to get rid of any books I got for low prices that I am unsure if we'll ever use in the future. I can re-buy the thing used or new if we need it when that time comes. That pains me to let go of usable stuff but us paying the cost of moving so far away adds a cost to every item.

I'm obviously keeping stuff I plan to use in the next one year. 

Any books I worked hard to acquire that I think we'll use or that we loved in the past or are sentimental will be kept. I'm keeping some picture books of favorite authors, for example, and for now, my collection of out of print Landmark history books and out of print Signature biographies.

I wonder how many books I'll be left with for the move? At this rate it seems I'm getting rid of 60-70% if not 80% of the books we own, which seems both crazy and amazing at the same time.

I'm getting sick of seeing the books, making decisions about the books, packing up and moving around heavy boxes of books.

Between the decluttering of other material possessions and the books, I think I am going have been cured of being a packrat once and for all.


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oh, how I wish I could take some of your books off your hands!

I know this is hard to do, but just think how much easier it will be to unpack so much less stuff!

KC said...

Awesome! Keep getting rid of stuff! You really won't miss it! You can do it!

Diane said...

Wow, that is alot of homeschool materials. I wish I lived close to you so I could come to this sale. Good luck with the sale.