Homeschoolers are generally a thrifty bunch. And that is good. No matter what our financial situation is, it’s a good idea to be financially prudent. In addition, many of us have traded off significant financial advancement to be at home with our children and educate them ourselves.
But just like putting on a new outfit can lift our spirits, so can new homeschooling materials lift the spirits of our children.
I do think it can be a good financial choice to invest in new homeschooling materials on a fairly regular basis. And I don’t just mean curriculum. I mean fun things like games, fun books, apps, craft materials, hobby materials, play equipment, etc.
Providing New Challenges and Opportunities for Gifted Children
Providing new materials is especially important if you have a gifted child or a child who craves new experiences, information, etc. Some children truly are wired to need new all the time.
This has been one of our greatest challenges with parenting Caroline. While some kids might enjoy playing with the same things over and over again, she doesn’t (except her stuffed animals!). Once she’s figured something out, she’s ready to move on to a new challenge which is why busy bags are an epic waste of time and money for us. Children who are wired to explore and learn in an intense way truly do need us to provide them with more than the average child.
The Delight of New Materials to Explore
One of the reasons we all homeschool is to provide our children with opportunities they wouldn’t have in a traditional classroom setting. I think those opportunities should go beyond the basics of curriculum. I think it should include providing them with delightful new materials to explore.
I will say that I’m all for supplying free creative materials. Caroline has a large bin in the learning room that is always full of recycled cardboard, boxes, caps and all sorts of interesting potential craft materials. We keep her supplied with a variety of craft items in the craft cabinet. But I honestly don’t think this is enough in a homeschool.
In a traditional classroom, a teacher will regularly swap out materials for the children. She might create a new extended center each week, a thematic play area, or some other opportunity for children to explore new things. While most of us can’t afford to fully trick out a new thematic area on a regular basis, we should look for opportunities to provide our children with a variety of learning experiences. And those experiences should go beyond the required curriculum.
What are some things we might consider investing in?
I see all of the above as valid and important homeschool materials. They really aren’t extras. Depending on the child’s interests, they are just as important as math books, science experiments and notebooks. And you might be amazed by how providing these kinds of learning materials re-energizes your homeschool experience.
For some families there may be truly no extra money to purchase anything new. If you can’t afford to buy new things, can you arrange a swap with a few other families (homeschooled or not)? Each family can bring a laundry basket full of books, games, puzzles, hobby materials, etc. to offer in exchange at your swap.
You can decide ahead of time if it is a permanent exchange or a loan. If you go the loan route, you could meet a couple of times a year to swap again. That way every family has the opportunity to pass things around and try new items.
Ask for Extras
Unless all of your friends and family members are minimalists, they probably have closets and basements full of quality stuff that is just sitting around. You might consider putting out a request on Facebook amongst your friends and family members to see if they have things they don’t need or want that your children would enjoy. It becomes win-win. They get stuff out of their home and your children receive new materials to enjoy!