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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Quick-Start Guide to Clearing Out Unwanted Curriculum

The Quick-Start Guide to Clearing Out Unwanted Curriculum #homeschool #curriculum

Written by Jessica.

The end of this school year is in sight, but I’m already starting to think about what materials I’ll need for next school year. This is an ideal time to go through books, curricula, and other learning materials to clear out what is no longer needed. If you are willing to do some work, this time of year presents an opportunity to sell or donate any items that you don’t plan to use again.


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The Quick-Start Guide to Clearing Out Unwanted Curriculum #homeschool #curriculum

Clearing Out


How do you know when it’s time to get rid of items? There are a few good questions to ask:

  • Will I use this again for any younger siblings that are currently part of our family or that may join our family in the future? 
  • Was this a good fit for my children’s learning styles and my teaching style, and did we really enjoy using it? 
  • Does this have sentimental value such that I want to hold onto it for memory-keeping purposes? (If those phonics readers that your children all learned to read with and that wooden abacus that they learned their first math on is precious to you, by all means, keep them! It’s okay to hold onto some things.) 

If the answer is a strong “No” to one or more of those questions, it may be time to clear items out. No one needs unnecessary curriculum guilt!

The Quick-Start Guide to Clearing Out Unwanted Curriculum #homeschool #curriculum

Selling Homeschool Materials Online


I’ve had good success selling some of our old homeschooling books and curricula online through eBay but there are many other used curriculum sites worth trying, as well. (Anytime you are selling something online, it’s important to thoroughly research and understand the selling process before you begin.) Here are some tips for selling homeschool materials online that have worked for me:

Clean it up

Take the time to gently wipe the covers of the books you’re selling with a lightly damp cloth to get off any fingerprints or marks. Fix any bent pages, tuck torn-out perforated pages back in order, carefully check for sticky-notes, etc. In other words, make it as presentable as possible!

Take good photos

When you list a book, you can use the ISBN number to pull up a stock photo in order to include an image in your listing. It’s better, however, to use a real photo. You don’t have to get artsy about it. Put it on your dining table in decent lighting, such as on a bright sunny day, and get a couple of close-ups. Done!

Don’t waste your time reviewing the curriculum

Someone in the market for used curricula is not looking for your sales pitch on why it’s the best math curriculum ever! You’re not their friend, mentor, favorite blogger, or a curriculum reviewer; you’re just a seller. Just as you probably research extensively when buying curriculum, others do too. In other words, they don't need convincing to pull the trigger. They’re ready to buy. So don’t waste your time writing a personal review of what you’re selling.

Be specific about the condition

When you sell an item you will categorize it as “brand new,” “very good,” etc. Be sure to read about what those designations mean on the particular site you'll be using beforehand to be as accurate as possible. Go the extra mile, though, and include a (brief) sentence or two in your description to give the buyer a better idea of what they’re getting. For example, you might say, “Tried this workbook and found the curriculum wasn’t a good fit for us. The workbook has 144 pages, and pages 5-12 have been filled in with a pencil. The remaining pages are unused and in like new condition.”

I once listed a workbook with a very similar description. After the sale, the buyer e-mailed me and asked me not to tear out the used pages before I mailed it to her because she planned to erase the pencil marks and photocopy the used pages so they could still be used with the rest of the workbook. Being specific gave the buyer a clear understanding of what she was buying.

Important note: Never sell any items with your child's name on it, especially because the mailing label that you’ll use will have your home mailing address on it.

Be honest about the condition

In keeping with the above, it’s important to accurately represent what you’re selling. A well-worn and much-loved teacher’s manual that has been used over many years and with multiple children is going to look quite different, say, then a teacher’s manual you bought but never ended up using much because you realized it wasn’t necessary. Likewise, while someone might not mind a used book, they might mind one with coffee rings or lots of bent pages. Be honest!

I once listed a teacher’s manual and CD as “like new” because I had, in fact, used it, albeit it very briefly. It still looked and felt “new.” The happy customer who bought it wrote a nice review of the sales experience, stating that the materials seemed in brand new condition. In other words, it’s better for someone to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

Choose a fair price

I found it helpful to go onto eBay and see what others were selling the same, or similar, items for. This ensured that I didn't list my items too high or too low. When you do this, you can see what’s selling (you can tell because the item will have bids on it) and then determine your price accordingly. If your item is still like new, you have to be willing to take a loss and price the item slightly lower than what you paid for it. Remember, people are buying your item used, whether that’s well-used or hardly used at all. If someone wants to pay full price or close to it, they’ll skip the hassle and uncertainty of buying it used and just get it brand new from a storefront.

Determine the mailing weight and cost beforehand

Unless you want to incur the mailing costs yourself, it’s important that you include an accurate shipping amount in your listing so your buyer has to pay that amount along with the cost of the item. (Books are sent via the USPS as “media mail” and the shipping costs are quite reasonable). You also need to know the weight of your item because you’ll need to enter that in when you print the mailing label from home.

I came up with a great way to do this: Wrap the item or items in bubble wrap, and put it in the box or padded envelope that you’ll be mailing it in. Take the whole thing to the post office and ask to have it weighed and for the exact mailing cost. Write both numbers down, either directly on the package or on a separate piece of paper. That way, you’ll be ready to list your item with all the information that you need, and you won’t get short-changed on the mailing cost. The bonus is that your item(s) is packed and just waiting to be mailed, so you’ll be able to get it mailed out promptly when you do sell it!

The Quick-Start Guide to Clearing Out Unwanted Curriculum #homeschool #curriculum

Other Ways to Clear Out Curriculum


What if you aren’t comfortable selling your used curriculum online or don’t have the time to do all that online markets involve? Here are a few other ideas for clearing out what you no longer need:

Sell it at a used curriculum sale

If you are fortunate enough to be a member of a large homeschool co-op or group, consider selling at an annual curriculum sale. You may have to pay a nominal fee to rent a table and will stay there with your stuff for a few hours during the sale. This seems like it would be a good option for those with lots of things to sell, but not necessarily for those with just a few items. If your group doesn't offer a sale, consider hosting one!

Give it away

I recently gathered up a large amount of learning toys and manipulatives that my children had outgrown that I planned to sell locally, as well as some preschool curriculum that I planned to sell online. I intended to use the money that I made selling it for part of our next school year’s curricula purchase. But then, I learned of a very dear family that was in need of exactly the items that I was planning to sell - and I gave it all away instead. By listening to my instincts and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I was able to bless another family…and the experience, in turn, blessed me. Everything I learned and witnessed in the exchange was worth far more than whatever I might have made selling the items. So keep your eyes open and your ears tuned for a need that you might be able to meet!

Toss it

Yes, I said that. I know as homeschoolers we want to be frugal. As Christians, we want to be good stewards of the Earth. But if you find yourself with half-used, pages-torn-out, dusty workbooks in the closet that you know deep down will never be used again because all of your children have outgrown that grade level, or because you found a different curriculum for that subject that you like so much better, etc. – it’s time to stop holding onto it. If you want, see if your children want to use it to play school or use some of the pages for scrap, but then throw it away. We all feel bad when we waste resources or any homeschool materials that turn out not to be a great fit, but sometimes that happens. Let it go without guilt!



If you follow the traditional school calendar, you’re probably cruising through the final stretch of homeschooling with summer now in sight. Before you start ordering and unpacking all the shiny and new for next school year, clear out what your family no longer needs and has outgrown. You’ll go into the next school year better organized and the better for it!




5 comments:

  1. I use a kitchen scale to weigh my books. Saves a trip to the post office. You can get the media mail rates from the USPS website to have on hand when selling items. Media Mail is not based on zip code, only on weight so there is no need to have the buyers zip code in order to accurately price shipping costs.

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    Replies
    1. A kitchen scale is a great idea! I'll definitely try that the next time I sell curriculum.

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  2. If you have a “tiny free library” in your area, you can drop off unwanted items and take others in there that interest you. Also if you have a store in your area
    Called half price books, they will buy your used books for cash.

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    Replies
    1. I got to go to Half Priced Books for the first time last week while traveling through Iowa. That's an awesome store!

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  3. Thanks Jamie for sharing this wonderful blog. Its true you need to put off all the materials which are unwanted.
    Jennifer kitchen scale is really a great idea.

    ReplyDelete