Buy books, not stuff

I just read a great article by Diane Flynn Keith entitled “7 Dumb Mistakes Smart People Make When They Homeschool and How to Avoid Them.”   The article really struck home with me in areas where I’ve been, and some areas in which I insist on returning, despite my best efforts.   For copyright’s sake, I won’t post the entire article here, but I will share her list of mistakes:

 1.      Unrealistic expectations (or no expectations) regarding yearly or daily goals

2.      Over-scheduling & under-scheduling

3.      Ignoring child feedback

4.      Overspending

5.      Isolation (interestingly enough, one of her remedies is to participate in an online chat room—HA HA!)

6.      Thinking you can do it all

7.      Striving to convince everyone else that they, too, should homeschool

Like I said, I could preach a sermon on all but #4, and I’m good enough to even get an offering on #s 2 and 6.    The reason that I’ve not been guilty of overspending, at least not yet, is more of a function of the method I chose for homeschooling than any well thought-out savings strategy.   One great benefit I’ve always enjoyed about Charlotte Mason’s principles is that there isn’t a lot of curriculum to buy if you play your cards right.  I have used as a mantra that quote I heard early in my journey about ‘all you need to homeschool is a Bible, a math book, and a library card.’   Don’t get me wrong; spending money on some curriculum is a necessary, and every now and then, you will purchase something that just isn’t working.   I think that’s par for the course of any homeschooler.

I mentioned earlier that I was in a bit of a quandary about the preschooler and what to use for next year.   There are a number of brightly-colored packages out there, complete with all the bells and whistles, that sure are tempting.   I think I’ve crossed that bridge and backed up to look at, academically, where I would want her to be.   However, I didn’t mention that the dilemma is the same when kids enter middle, and especially, high school.    Is there some rite of passage which states that as kids get older, everything must cost more?   Of course, I have at least one more year with the oldest to mull over these prices, which are exorbitant for me.  

As I pray and do the homework, I have a couple of homeschooling jewels that I often refer back to, especially at the year’s end when I’m beginning to think about the years to come.   So, what pearls of wisdom did I find?   A few questions to consider:

Is this something I can teach without a curriculum?

Am I attracted to the content, or the packaging and promotion?

What do the reviews say about it?

Finally, this one is my favorite: buy books instead of buying “stuff”.   Hopefully as you plan for next year, this one will help you, too.

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4 thoughts on “Buy books, not stuff

  1. I have to say listening to your child is pretty important. I think my youngest wasted his first 6 months of homeschooling, because I wasn't listening. I had been given a free curriculum that does review for at least the first 6 weeks. He kept telling me that he was bored and not learning anything new. I didn't listen, because I wanted him to do all the worksheets. I spent the next 6 months testing him on new things and trying to "catch him up". Next time I will listen. I hope.

  2. Yes, I have realized that all you need to homeschool is a bible, a math book, and a library card! I didn't know that mantra until you mentioned it, but I have been employing this simple approach for weeks now.

    When I get the flyers, catalogs, and pamphlets in the mail, I feel overwhelmed! Furthermore, so much of the books/programs seem to have a cartoon theme—everything is brightly colored, with animated drawings.

    I also came across a mantra that has molded my view of the lambs God has entrusted me with: "We are not raising children, we are raising adults." To this end, I seek literature that is mature, diverse, and morally edifying. As of late, I have been pleased with the selection offered by our local library. Of course, the Bible is the best "all in one" book we own; there are many mathematical, science, social studies, and civic/etiquette themes interwoven throughout the Bible.

    Yes, homeschooling has not cost me much at all–between the library, garage sales, and trips to the store, I am managing to give my children a well-rounded, classical, virtuous education–practically free!Edited by TexasMomof3 on Apr. 13, 2007 at 5:01 AM

  3. Thank you for this. I love the mantra! This is my first year homeschooling, and I have to admit that I've made some unnecessary purchases based on the packaging and promotion!

  4. Thank you,
    I think this is exactly what I needed to hear. And my husband thanks you because I can ease off on his wallet now. I have actually been looking into a lot of different things and finally settled on the Weaver (which I love) and just refuse to spend any more money. I have a library card and the only books I believe I will buy are the ones that I notice I keep checking out. Also the Internet. Gotta love the Internet.

    God Bless you and your family,

I'd love to hear your two cents!!