I have gotten started sorting the home education books I am ready to share with others. Those decisions are made fairly quickly. We are nearing the end of our journey (my youngest is a sophomore in high school), so the completed resources are easy to detect. What is not so easy is the next goal: figuring out which papers and projects to keep archived.
There are many opinions on this subject, even within the same family. So, I recommend proceeding with caution. That scrap of paper that looks like garbage to a Thrower is a treasure for the Saver. My husband and I still dispute the wisdom of keeping his kindergarten papers. By the same token, he might not understand why I still have my college research papers and notes. Not to mention church bulletins with poetic scrawls where sermon notes should be. Taking all types into account, here is my strategy for reducing our plethora of papers and projects.
- Remember the three criterion for sorting: Determine if it will shock, burden, or bore.
- What could be shocking about home education papers? Journals! Make sure your child is okay with you reading them.
- What might burden them? Keeping more than they want in their basements some day.
- What might bore them? Anything outside their interests.
With those parameters in mind…
- Consider primary interests and future areas of study: My children will not shed tears over discarding their math assignments. But, sketch books are sacred.
- My interests are not necessarily their interests: I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of ten, so I shudder to consider throwing out those early drafts. My kids wouldn’t think twice before pitching theirs.
- Their interests are not necessarily my interests: I might see the value of keeping certain papers for documentation purposes. When a child is on an IEP, it is important to keep records. Even so…
- When at all possible, create a digital copy: Most documents can be scanned and stored on a hard drive or in the cloud (password protected, of course). Special projects (like that bug or leaf collection) can be photographed once it has been completed.
- Keep what is essential: I was aptly reminded by my home-education-store friend that only two pieces of documentation are essential for home school: the transcript and the diploma. I would add the IEPs if you have a special needs child and state-required yearly test copies. But, remember all of these can be stored digitally.
- Preserve what can be reused or appreciated in the future: One thing I plan to keep is the replica of the Tabernacle. We put it together from a kit at the beginning of our home education years. Since then, I’ve used it several times. This is a family treasure I hope to share with my grandchildren.
I can’t guarantee that I will toss every scrap of paper (I’m sure that my husband’s kindergarten papers and my scribbled-up church bulletins will be in our wills), but with these strategies in mind, I hope to reduced out stack of boxes considerably.
After ten years of home educating my children, I have collected around three boxes per year of resources, papers, and projects. (That’s one box per child, and I might be underestimating by half!) That means the equivalent of thirty boxes are stacked (mostly neatly) in various places of the basement.
It is definitely time to share my stash!
But, how? Let’s start with the resources.
- Distribute textbooks: Many publishers develop new editions of their textbooks. Before textbooks become out-dated, it’s a good idea to give others the opportunity to use them. (Incidentally, older editions of books aren’t less useful. They are less expensive, even free!)
- Loan literature: These are books and resources to be returned once the borrower is finished. They include classic literature. The newer editions may have more recent commentaries or translations, but the older editions usually retain the original text. When they come back, decide then what to do with them.
- Reduce the redundant: In some cases, we have more than one copy of a book. If it is a cherished title, keep one and give away the other.
- Retain the memorable: A few books are simply treasures. Keep them. Set each aside for the child that loved that book most. Then give it when that child has his/her own basement.
My goal is to have two boxes per child–one for favorite books and one for special papers and projects. I’ll write about that second one tomorrow.
While I was recently bemoaning my basement battles, a friend who runs a home education store in my area gave me some helpful advice about purging. She said that if anything shocks, burdens, or bores the next generation it should be given or thrown away. I’ve decided to heed this advice as I continue going through my boxes and pass it on as a suggested course for others in their own quests for a more organized home in 2018.
I decided to give away my first set of dishes. This may seem unsentimental of me. Also the pattern is basic and doesn’t look dated. So, here is my reasoning.
- Only seven non-chipped plates remain from the original twelve-piece set. This was just fine for our camper, but I can’t host a dinner party with them at home.
- The butter dishes no longer have covers. When dishes stop being fully functional, it is time to get rid of them.
- The pattern is discontinued. I could get more from Replacements.com, but I have already restocked with a different pattern (Incidentally, this one is also discontinued.)
- I don’t have room in my cupboards. My cupboards are filled with the newer pattern, my Christmas dishes (also discontinued), and my mother’s amber (that includes pieces from my great-grandmother’s collection as well as antiques my mother has found over the years.)
- I needed more room for my coffee mugs. I have more mugs than necessary as the only black-coffee-drinker in the house. I do need to purge this collection, too. But, the counter was getting crowded with my favorites, and I still have some from the camper to squeeze in my mug cupboard. So, those original pieces had to go.
- I would rather find replacements of dishes that make me happy. I bought a four piece set of blue-and-white Kobenstyle Dansk when my oldest son went to college and only four of us would be at the camper on a regular basis. The color is discontinued (if you ever want to purchase a set of dishes, don’t buy the pattern I choose; they always seem to get discontinued!), but these dishes make me happy. So, I plan on keeping them. Someday, we will have a finished basement, and I can use them again. Or one of the kids might need a small set for an apartment. If neither of those scenarios happens (we’ve been planning to finish our basement for seventeen years), that’s okay. The set is small enough to store (in what will probably continue to be our unfinished basement).
- I’m only keeping dishes my kids might want some day. My oldest son loves black and white, so he gets my original china. Of course, it is discontinued, and I have always struggled to have more than an eight-piece set. My youngest son has laid claim to the amber, which has more pieces than I can count. But, he helped cull the pieces from my mom’s collection, so he has earned the right to these. My middle son, who has special needs, will benefit from all my dishes because he will most likely continue living with my husband and me. If he ends up with a place of his own, he gets dibs to the blue-and-white set (because blue is his favorite color and because he won’t want to host a more-than-four dinner party). They can fight over the Christmas dishes. Or not. But, there is a story behind them, which I will try to remember to tell later this year.
Someone will love my old dishes, especially the custard cups and the batter pitcher. To that person, I say, enjoy!
One of the things to go out the door yesterday was an assortment of towels, sheets, and pillows. Between two places, we had double of these, too. Although these items were not in the basement (rather in my master bedroom closet waiting for a donation date to send them on their way), it was a relief to stack them in bags on the front door step. Now my master closet is much cleaner and ready for me to sort it once I have more done in the basement.
Simply picking a category to sort makes the organizing much easier. In a sense, it is taking one thing at a time instead of focusing on the whole room or the whole house. The important thing is to have in mind where the items will be going and when so that piles don’t accumulate throughout the house. Sometimes I am good at this and sometimes not. Let’s just say, I am hoping to get better at planning each exodus.
(By the way, I have taken old towels to a nearby pet groomers. They seemed thrilled to have them.)