Welcome to our Declutter Your Homeschool Challenge!
As we go throughout this challenge, I’m going to add new to-dos for you to tackle in your own home.
Let’s get started!
STEP ONE: Throw away trash!
This may sound like an obvious task, but let’s really think about this. What can we throw away right now?
Let’s start with the things that can be tossed from these spaces:
- kitchen counter drop zones
- art tables/art carts
- baskets/containers of supplies
- paper trays/file drawers/desks
Clear out the trash! Move quickly!
Maybe the kids can help? Maybe not? You decide.
Level Up: Maybe you want to go beyond the tossing of broken crayons and paper shreds. If so, consider what else could be thrown away.
- Completed work you no longer need to keep (Your kids won’t want it when they move out – I promise…not all of it anyway.)
- Damaged or incomplete resources
- Half-finished workbooks that will never be completed (Maybe your nephews could use them?)
- Books that hold bad memories – like the third-grade math book my son and I never want to see again – not ever ever ever again!
- Projects that have been sitting for months…maybe years (Snap a photo and toss!)
- The science experiment that didn’t work the first time…and probably won’t ever be tried again. Let it go!
What else is headed for your trash pile? Let’s do this, moms!
STEP TWO: Now let’s talk about the stuff you know you’re not going to use!
As you were clearing the trash, did you notice these kinds of items in your space?
They’re not trash…they actually have lots of life left to them…maybe some of them are even new – but you know in your heart of hearts you are simply never going to use them.
- Items that were handed down to you but aren’t a good fit for your homeschool.
- Resources you’ve tried to use but they weren’t helpful to you or your child.
- Manipulatives, games, activities, etc. your kids have long-since outgrown.
- Books your children have read and won’t be reading again.
Let’s tackle these kinds of things!
- Can any of the items be returned? Maybe you don’t have the original receipt but the store may let you trade the item for something else you need for your home or family right now?
- Would you like to sell any of them? Or put them on consignment? (We have a local homeschool consignment store in our area – maybe you do, too.) Is your neighborhood having a Neighborhood Yard Sale this summer? If you decide to sell your items, make sure the decision you make here is something you can get started on right away – you do not want these items to continue to sit in your house. You’re ready to move them out of your space!
- Is there a family member or friend who would benefit from the items you’re purging? Make sure they actually want them before you dump them on them. ha!
- Do you know of any local therapists, therapist clinics, etc. in your area? Trust me when I tell you they would probably be eager to get their hands on some of what you have!
- Does your library accept donations? Maybe you even have a church library?
- Is there a nearby school who would like to have the items you’ve decluttered? When I was a classroom teacher, I used to love when donations would be dropped off in our teacher resource room!
- Have you decided to part with lots of books? Pediatric medical offices love having new books for their waiting areas!
For me, this stage of decluttering was not easy. I made a run through our bookshelves and cabinets…and then I did it again…and again…and again – like peeling back layers of an onion, getting rid of more and more each time.
If you’re able to make lightning fast decisions and move quickly through this part of the declutter, I envy you!
This is the stuff that has been hardest for me to let go, but I finally had to get tough as nails and admit that there were some wonderful items in our homeschool stash that needed to go.
Maybe they weren’t a good fit for us, but remembering that they might be super helpful to someone else out there made it easier for me to let them go!
Level Up: Going through your stuff is going to result in you having some piles sitting around in your space. Commit to getting those piles out your house as soon as possible!
Don’t let them sit – days could turn into weeks and don’t forget your goal here. You’re wanting to DECLUTTER YOUR HOMESCHOOL so you can start the year next year with more simplicity and less overwhelm.
- Did you find some items you know a friend of yours would like o have? Text her and tell her you’re dropping them off on her porch today.
- Want to make your books available for free to families or other teachers who would enjoy them? Put them out on your porch and post in your neighborhood online group: FREE BOOKS ON OUR PORCH. I actually did this with bulletin board supplies I had from my classroom days. A couple of new teachers in my neighborhood snatched those right up!
- Ready to consign some items at your local education consignment store? Plan to go later today or tomorrow – Let’s get this done!
- Planning to donate to a church, school, library, medical office, or therapy clinic? Plan to make that happen THIS WEEK!
Don’t allow these piles to continue to sit in your home – and girl, don’t ride around with boxes and bags in your car for weeks either – let’s deliver these items to their new home!
Can’t go today? Mark a different day on your calendar! Yes, actually schedule out the day you’re going to drop off your donations, make your deliveries, etc.
Declutter your space while making your items available for someone else to use right away! Let’s go!
STEP THREE: What about duplicates?
Okay, friends, I have to be honest! Here I am with another step in the challenge for you, but to tell you the truth – these challenges that I’ve been sharing here over the last few weeks…well, these are things that have actually taken me years to work through…yes, years!
For those of you who are moving quickly and decluttering your spaces without hesitation, I am so impressed by you! Keep going – you are amazing!
But maybe you’re like me, and you feel like you’re moving more slowly! I get it, and that’s why I’ve tried to space the challenges out a bit so it gives you time to work through them at your own pace.
Clearing out the trash isn’t typically too hard for me!
It’s all that comes along with being realistic about the things I’m not going to use and being willing to actually let those things go – that’s where I struggle the most, but I know I’ve already shared with you!
In this challenge, we’re going to work through something that has also been a struggle for me – letting go of duplicates!
The actual duplicates…two copies of the same book…two of the exact same games…yes, I’ve had some of those!
But I’m also talking about having multiple games, activities, resources, etc. that accomplish the same goal – and you’ve realized you really don’t need ALL of them!
As I really started to the think through the duplicate homeschooling items I had, I was baffled by the time and money I had spent gathering resources that were actually unnecessary…because I already had items on hand that would accomplish the task!
What was I thinking?
For me, I think some of this happened when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I panicked a bit – wanting to make sure I had absolutely anything and everything we would need to help her be successful.
Lots of companies had sent me products for free…and then I purchased even more!
It is only now that she is elementary-school age that I’m realizing:
- We would have never had the time to use all of those amazing products.
- Some of the resources didn’t actually end up being a good fit for her learning style.
- Her therapists already had the products and she was already doing great work with them in her therapy sessions.
- We already owned the item…or we had three or four other things that were similar!
See what I mean by duplicates?
What duplicates do you have?
- How many alphabet/number puzzles do you have?
- Do you really need that many different kinds of math flashcards?
- Will your kids ever actually get through that many different workbooks about fractions and decimals?
- Do you own multiple solar system models?
- Will they get to all those craft supplies before they break down, dry up, etc.?
- Does your family play educational games? Do they play as many games as you’re storing in that extra closet?
No judgment here – these are actual questions I’ve had to work through for myself, and friends, when I began clearing out the duplicates I had, a whole new level of decluttering started to take place for me…and you know what?
I discovered a whole new freedom in our homeschool! The pressure to DO ALL OF THESE THINGS was gone, and I discovered a breathing room that began to make learning so much more enjoyable for me and my kids!
I would love to hear if you are finding yourself in a similar place as I was in – Have you been there? Are you realizing how many duplicates you have in your homeschool space?
Level Up: As you’ve been decluttering, have you come across resources that are incomplete…maybe they were passed down to you…they’re missing pieces…you’re not sure exactly what to do with them…but they’re not being used…or you have something else on hand that’s similar? This is me giving you permission to let those things go!
Do they need to go in the trash? Or are they things that some else might enjoy so you’d rather donate them?
Our local homeschool consignment store has a FREE BIN where you can drop items like this – maybe someone else is looking for what you have!
Let it go! Free up the space and release it from your mind – it will feel so good…especially if doing so allows you to help someone else.
Keep going, friends! You’re doing a great job!
STEP FOUR: Use what you have!
We’ve made it to the fourth and final step in this challenge – Use what you have!
This may not sound like advice that is all that life-changing, but for me, this was huge!
Last year, before I allowed myself to order a single piece of curriculum, I forced myself to look very carefully at the resources I already had on hand!
I had a homeschool resource closet that was filled to the brim with items I had decided were important enough to keep, and it was time to use them!
At first, this approach resulted in some big-time doubts. What on earth was I doing? It felt a bit like I was piecing together a hodge-podge of curriculum for each of my kids to use in the coming year…
…and I quickly realized it was going to work great!
There was a reason I had held on to these items. I had specific intentions for for purchasing them, always considering the different learning styles present in our homeschool, of course – but they kept getting shoved to the side as I kept ordering more and more curriculum.
Throughout that coming school year, we were able to “use up” some really great resources – materials that actually perfectly suited the needs of my kids.
In many ways, the year looked different than our homeschool had looked in the past, and it was quite possibly our best year yet!
I was so proud of myself for being willing to do this! Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable for a homeschool mom to veer away from what she’s always done and do things differently, but I did it.
An extra perk? It saved us a ton of money! The curriculum order I placed totaled a small fraction of the amount I typically spend before the start of a new school year!
As I look ahead to a new school year, I’m actually taking this same approach again!
A friend gave me some fantastic writing resources for Aubrey, so I’m not going to order anything for that – we’re going to use what we have!
I realized I had an extra copy of a spelling activity book from when my oldest was in fifth grade. My rising fifth-grader is going to use that this year!
One of my kids needs some extra practice with math drills – I am going to skip purchasing the expensive math drills book available from our favorite curriculum company. I have an inexpensive drills book I found at a yard sale several years ago – we’re going to use that!
What do you already have on hand that will accomplish what you have in mind for this coming school year? Think long and hard before ordering something new – You might just have what you need already on hand!
Did you enjoy this challenge?
I would love to hear what part of the challenge was most impactful for you!
Each family’s journey is different – Thank you for sharing in ours with us!