Our first year of schooling at home I thought we needed all of this stuff.
Textbooks and notebooks to go with them, a library of books, and I hit up the back to school sales and bought mountains of crayons, pencils, and filler paper. The list goes on and it was all fine and dandy, until we moved into a 27 foot camper trailer. There was hardly enough room for a family of 5, plus 2 cats and 2 dogs, let alone a library of books. So I had to downsize. This last summer I devised a new way of doing things that I have actually continued to use, even now, though we’ve moved into a much bigger place.
I got rid of the loose papers and packed up all of the books.
I found PDF workbooks and other worksheets online and downloaded them to my computer to create a smaller, lighter curriculum that still taught in bulk.
Let’s start with the elimination of the textbooks.
We had one for every core subject. That’s 5 textbooks for each child. They filled up an entire shelf just on their own. Instead of using them again this year I packed them in a box, put them in storage, and went a different route.
There are so many great resources on the internet for homeschooling. And all it takes is a simple Google search. All I had to do was search “Grade 4 Math PDF” and up popped a bunch of different things I could use. I actually ended up finding entire downloadable workbooks this way…and the best part is, some of them are FREE!! The great thing about a pdf is that all you have to do is save it to your computer, an entire workbook confined to a little bitty folder on the drive of your computer! Now, all I have to do is get on my computer, open the folder, and print what I need.
Another thing I did that turned out to be a space saving move was that I purchased my children Kindle Fire tablets towards the end of the school year last year.
I mostly did it because they had really been wanting tablets and there was a great sale going on, so I did. But they turned out to be an amazing addition to our homeschool.
When I was setting up to homeschool I started an account with Scholastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scholastic and they are great for stocking your home library, but we just didn’t have the room for all of those books in the camper and now I know that you can get quite a few of them in digital format on Amazon. Personally I am a paperback book type of girl. There is just something about reading a book and turning those paper pages. But my kids are super tech, so it makes sense that they would prefer to read on their Kindles.
Reading isn’t the only thing they are good for though. They are a tablet, so you can use them almost like you would any other tablet. My kids like to use them for research purposes, which is a space saving factor all on its own.
I like the Kindle Fire specifically for a few reasons.
- If you have multiple Kindles they all sync to your Amazon account where you can set up individual profiles for each of your children. Each tablet also carries the profiles of everyone that is on your account.
- Kids don’t have access to the app store, but you can download and share apps with them. The only thing I don’t really like regarding this is that if you download an app to one tablet and share it, it doesn’t automatically sync to the other tablets. If you want a specific app on all of them you have to download it to every. single. Kindle.
- Amazon has a lending library. Which is a great alternative to the classic brick and mortar library.
- Amazon Freetime Unlimited. This is a subscription based service, but it’s worth it if you have a little under $10 to spend each month. It gives your child access to tons of apps, games, and books (most of them educational), based on age appropriateness, that they can download simply by tapping the one they want. One thing I dislike about this though, is the fact that the Kindles themselves don’t have a lot of storage, and if you have an impatient child (or just a young one) they will inevitably push and download multiple titles all at once, using up all the storage almost immediately. You can remove the apps by managing their profile, but it’s a long and tedious process involving long pressing each individual app and pushing the “remove from device” button. So, in my opinion, the best option is to just get a large capacity SD card to install on the Kindle.
The binders we are currently using are probably one of my favorite space saving changes I made for this school year.
They keep everything so compact and accessible. I simply print, punch, and place in the binders. Check out my post about setting up these binders here.
Whether you are downsizing your home or just looking for a minimalist way of doing things, I hope you can get some good use out of these tips. If they worked for you or if you have some ideas of your own, let me know in the comments, share on social media, or hit the like button. Thanks for reading!