One of my favorite things to do is browse homeschool products. Whether online, in person or at book sales, after decades of homeschooling, I admit I still get the same old tingle when I find something I think my kids will love.
Shopping for the future is another habitual practice for many parents. I do it because I love being able to walk over to a shelf or open a closet and grab something that relates to what one of my children is learning. I like the option of seeing something out the window, hearing something on television or not knowing the meaning of a word, and being able to look it up in a book. I like having the next level of a product readily on hand when one of my students announces he has completed a book and is ready for the next. I like owning several in a series so that I can experiment with placement if I’m not sure the skill level of a particular child. I like having the ability to find the perfect edition for a child when he’s ready for it.
There is much to be said for buying educational products when opportunity knocks. Of course, it’s convenient. But it saves so much time and money, too. How often have you wished you had picked up that book/game/toy/CD when you found it on sale, rather than having to pay full price years later — or never being able to find it again?
Other parents do this, too. One mom told of 7 large bins of homeschool books as a stockpile for the future. Another mom spoke about expanding the home library to include all grade levels for every child down the line. It’s a common practice — assuming one can handle it.
Because there is a dark side to stocking up for the future. Apart from the obvious — budget and storage – it has to do with having too much.
Put simply, some parents actually feel pressured by extra books on the shelves or many products in a closet.
Think about it — educational goodies just sitting there, packed with opportunities for learning, full of mind-expanding content that children need to know, and [they believe] need to know now. And why wait? Surely these families can spare a couple of minutes out of every day to learn Latin/study mythology/read about the lives of famous composers/<fill-in-the-blank>. Cramming more into every homeschool day happens at the Smith’s and at the Jones’s. Surely it can happen in mine…
As silly as this sounds, it’s not as uncommon as you think. Among the super-achieving, hard-driving homeschooling crowd, that is. Compelled to teach it all, collecting these nuggets of wisdom in drawers and in closets comes with the implicit intention of actually using them all. And over time, these products begin screaming to be taken from the shelves. And that sound may be deafening.
Thus, while collecting products for the future may be convenient and cost-saving for some, for others it creates undue pressure. I have felt this to a lesser degree, have you? The desire to “do it all” may result in anxiety when one cannot. Feelings of regret, inadequacy, frustration and despair may attack those who purchase more than they can realistically handle.
Much like stockpiling food items, health and beauty aids, and clearance clothing in larger sizes for growing children, stockpiling homeschool products is an excellent way to have items on hand when they’re needed.
But if having unused items is accompanied by guilt over not putting them to good use, stockpiling is certainly not advised. Compound this guilt with pressure from a spouse who may not understand the need to stockpile homeschool products for the future, and it creates an absolute no-no.
Homeschooling should be joyful. Not without its occasional challenges, but overall, homeschooling is pleasant and rewarding. If families find that purchasing extra learning tools is helpful, this practice is absolutely recommended. Should it be accompanied by feelings of discomfort, however, it must absolutely be avoided.
Remember that all families are different. You may or may not see yourself in this post. If you believe it could help someone you know, please pass it on. If you can add to this conversation, I would appreciate your COMMENT to encourage others.