"I'm getting rid of this stack...that whole shelf's worth...and everything in those two big boxes over there," my friend said emphatically one day.
"Why so?" I asked. "I thought you loved that curriculum. And this one? You just bought this last year didn't you?"
"Yep. But it's got to go. It's just been sitting here untouched, collecting dust, taunting me every time I look in this direction. The thing is, I bought it because I heard that it was a good program. I got a great deal on it and thought I'd just tuck it away until I needed it. But the truth is, I love what we're using right now. I feel like I've finally found what works for us. And yet despite feeling great about what I've chosen, every time I pass by this shelf, I feel like a loser because I'm not using any of these 'good' things...like I've squandered my money, like I'm not doing enough, like maybe I'm failing my kids. Who needs that kind of guilt?"
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I've walked mile after mile in those same shoes of guilt and would not wish that on anyone. (Need I remind her of my depressing dance with Tapestry of Grace?)
So with one shrug of her shoulders, she began boxing up a whole slew of unused curriculum. She admitted that all of the resources were good; they just weren't good for her for right now (and maybe never would be).
I knew my friend was not being wasteful. She was just recognizing what her homeschool WAS and what it WAS NOT. She was lightening her load and realizing that sometimes less really is so much more. In being brave enough to admit that she probably would never get around to using any of those GOOD things, she was creating space for stuff she would use and fully embracing the curriculum that seemed to feel GREAT for her family.
Our annual state convention is just around the corner and with it comes an opportunity to unload some outgrown or unwanted curriculum items. She and I both plan on passing along some good stuff to other mommas who would get much more use out of them than we ever have.
In truth, parting with books of any kind has never really been easy for me. I tend to have deep, abiding relationships with my books. But, there comes a point in some relationships when one has to recognize the bond has turned -- that it's become toxic and must be jettisoned...and quick.
I used to be quite the curriculum hoarder. Like my friend, I always held onto everything in hopes of some elusive "someday." As a newbie homeschooler, I was in the discovery phase, the "trying out" phase, the "What curriculum are you using because maybe I should be using it too?" phase of curriculum choices. And so I flopped around trying to figure out what kind of homeschooler I was and what materials I could lean into.
And that's OK. Trial and error have always been the hallmark of every worthwhile discovery, including homeschooling. So, I kept flip-flopping from this good program to that good program until I finally landed on the GREAT that really worked for us. But by that time, I had amassed quite a collection of good-but-not-good-for-me items. All that "extra" began to feel like an anchor dragging me under threatening to drown me in the guilt of shoulda-coulda-woulda.
I imagine that was exactly how my friend had begun to feel when she started aborting books that day. She had discovered that curriculum shelves can quickly feel like Pinterest-style pressure if we allow them to. Shelves can curate lots of awesome, displaying the Cathy Duffy-approved perfection for anyone who passes by. But like all those contrived and digitally-enhanced photographs on Pinterest, unused curriculum can remind us of our inabilities and our lack--of what our kids are potentially missing out on.
As simple as it sounds, when faced with the "extra" of extra curriculum, you can really only make one of three decisions. You can try to stuff one more thing into your already congested day by cracking open that "good" curriculum in order to get your money's worth out of it. You can let it sit there on the shelf, collecting dust, reminding you of the "awesome" you are not doing. Or you can just go all Kon Marie on that bad boy and get rid of it. I choose the latter.
I don't need the extra baggage. I don't need the guilt. My days are already too complicated as it is. I'd much rather embrace my one or two great choices wholeheartedly than feel pulled in a million different directions by shelves full of good.
So, if you too are feeling the weight of unused curriculum because you're clinging to the notion that you might use it someday, do yourself a favor-- admit that someday might never come and let it go. Box it up. Empty the shelf. And move on.
No more extra curriculum. No more curriculum guilt.