Updated: Aug 16, 2021
I read a meme recently that said something along the lines of, 'buying books and reading them are two entirely different pursuits'. I think it's safe to say that you could substitute books here for homeschooling resources. Let's talk about homeschooling resources.
DEFINE WHAT A GOOD RESOURCE IS
For me a good homeschooling resource is one that my children will use. I need to make sure I can store it well (in our small home) and I also want it to have learning value or at least a big enjoyment factor (like our mini pinball machine for one). I look for things that my kids can use by themselves or play in pairs as well as sourcing family activities too. I also like it to be affordable.
What about you? Consider what makes a 'good resource' for you.
BUYING WITH GOOD INTENTIONS VS MAKING GOOD INTENTIONAL USE OF RESOURCES
Have you stood in a shop or at a homeschool market thinking, 'I'm sure this will come in handy at some point' and bought a resource or two without having an actual need at that time for it? Or maybe it was an impulse buy of a curriculum you saw discounted online. Of course sometimes it is helpful to have something stored away but other times I think it's very easy for many of us to accumulate resources that we think are going to be helpful but that our kiddos will NEVER use.
Have you purchased anything that would fall into the latter? Why did you purchase it?
Making good, intentional use of our resources has been something I've been working on for a while. I have a few places in our 'learning room' space that I use to store our resources. It's not Pinterest-pretty and isn't magazine worthy but these cupboards and shelves are functional, accessible and easy to maintain. Every 6 months or so I go through the cupboards with the help and input of our kiddos and we cull resources that we no longer use. I don't see this as wasteful as we always talk about passing on things to bless others and making space for things that we could use instead.
(Inside the resource cupboard we have lots of little containers to keep games etc. Tubs were from the Reject Shop I think.)
I also made some charts that list all the resources we have (by subject type) in the inside of the resource cupboard. If I'm having a day that is fairly flat, I can say to the kids, "Go and choose a maths resource from the cupboard please" and they can go to the maths tub and grab out an item. They can look on the door for ideas if they get stuck.
(You get the idea here: resources listed under subject type. You could group yours any way you like...such as resources to use for one person or pairs, board games, etc).
(This is not a picture of this cupboard at its neatest nor is it the prettiest but it works for our purposes).
CREATING A RESOURCE CUPBOARD (OR BOOKCASE OR WHATEVER WORKS!)
* Get yourself a cupboard or utelise one you have (over the years we've used this one above, a buffet and hutch, a retro cabinet. Use what takes your fancy).
* Group resources together in tubs or baskets. The red and blue plastic tubs I've had for about 14 years from Ikea purchased for a buck or two back then.
* I personally prefer tubs with lids because we live in a rural area = mice plagues come through here and it makes it easier to keep clean.
* Before you do a sort and cull, get yourself some zip lock bags or little tubs of different sizes. I find these helpful for things like puzzle pieces, playing cards, etc.
* Remember to keep things that you know will be used by your kids. If they've outgrown things, pass them on to others.
* Go HERE to our freebies section and print off the 'Fun Things To Do' chart. You can take photos of your games and resources, then stick the photos to the sheet and laminate them and pop them up on the inside of your cupboard if you have visual readers. I used to do this until my kiddos could read. If you want to see what we have had in our resource cupboards over the years you can check out THIS BLOG POST.
(Above: An example of what our visual Fun Things To Do Chart looked like. Once my kids could read, we replaced these with a written version)
Here are a few other examples of how we have stored our resources over the years:
(Preschool type activities when the two youngest were little and I wanted them to be able to access their things. Yes the sometimes pulled everything out at once but we generally encouraged them to grab one activity box at a time and would use that with them while the older kiddos were doing something else).
(This was another set up we had in a house we were living in in the Blue Mountains. The big buffet and hutch was helpful for organising things).
(These little toddler boxes and puzzle basket lived inside the cupboards).
FINAL TOP TIPS:
* Don't feel like you have to get everything sorted in one day. * Cull as you go and bless others.
* Give yourself time to work on it.
* Making your resources work for you is a good learning tool that your kids will find helpful into their adult years so get them involved and don't think of the process as 'separate to proper learning'. This IS learning!
* Don't think your cupboard has to look like something out of a magazine. Make it work for you and your family with your unique needs and resources. Don't worry about how pretty it looks. Focus on accessibility and usability instead.
I hope this might help someone out there stuck for ideas on how to utelise their homeschool resources to the best of their ability. Happy learning and living, Lusi x