On my son’s last day of undergrad classes I was ready to go through 12 years of workbooks, papers, notebooks, art, books and all the other things I had saved.  We were so excited that day, undergrad was done

But those boxes in the basement full of our homeschool years. 
Those boxes had been on my mind. 

So… we dragged them upstairs and I planned to get through them over the next few days.  I wanted to touch everything, not just chuck it all into the recycle without pawing through it first.  I wanted to remember each thing, to be surprised by the resources I had forgotten about.  I want to cull it down to a few items that I would keep forever. 

I made piles.

  • KEEP
  • Maybe keep
  • Show Ian
  • Show gramma (Ian and my mom met for their beloved “Gramma School” once a week from age 5 until he graduated high school)
  • Take a picture
  • Giveaway
  • Trash

I weighed some of it and estimated that there was easily over 200 pounds of workbooks, worksheets, notes, art, reports, notebooks, certificates…memories. 
The trashed items ended up filling 2 of Warwick’s recycle roller bins.  


Here’s a bunch of items we used over the years.  I’ll comment on some of them.

Many of our favorite resources were PDFs.
If a workbook feels overwhelming to your child, rip out a page at a time!

 I found a bunch of annual Zoo School certificates.  I tearily sent an email to
Miss Stein thanking her for being part of Ian’s education for so many years.

As I looked through the piles one of the “lessons learned”, regarding the overwhelming task of choosing curriculum, that I always talk to newbies about hit me once again.
The AGE of a resource should not determine if it’s worth your time or not.  1991 – why not!!

Much of what I had for the “middle school” years were various types of typed or hand-written writing assignments.  Most I had forgotten about.  This one was especially poignant.  For Ian his main “teachers” had been mom, dad and grandma for his whole life.  This essay shows how important those relationships had been compared to other members of our family that were not involved in “homeschooling”.  This essay went into the small box of items I chose to save. 

I couldn’t toss this one in the recycle bin either. 

Side note: when Ian took some classes at a homeschool learning center during the “middle school” years, he came home with his first gold stars on papers.  I realized that most parents get that “stamp of approval” in PreK or Kindergarten when the kids come home with papers from school.  I had never graded papers for Ian, we worked to mastery, I never wrote 85%, 7/10 or Job Well Done at the top of a paper.  Little Ian LOVED stickers and he had a HUGE sticker album and we did use stickers for a few charts throughout his life, like during potty training, but I had never put a sticker on a worksheet and certainly not the conventional GOLD STAR.  So, this was a first for us!

Another side note: this was an assignment from a writing class based in IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing).  IEW teaches writing with rules, a lot of rules, and lists, a lot of lists, which was a PERFECT fit for Ian’s love of rules that melts into every part of his life and always has.  I highly recommend IEW.

You may have noticed that there are not many pictures of items from the teen years.  Most of our resources during that time were things that I no longer have or aren’t picture-worthy:

  • Textbooks which were sold after using
  • PILES of notebooks
  • Online classes
  • More and more and more essays and research papers

End Scene

Choosing curriculum and resources is overwhelming.  It only gets a little easier with time.  Even a veteran homeschooler starts to question everything that had worked well so far when the teen years roll around.  

Few of us are curriculum experts. Just do your best, use what is working and move on from things that aren’t proving to be a good fit, especially if there’s crying because… There’s No Crying In Homeschooling…you can pivot and make changes anytime you need to.

Written by Melissa Robb