I admit that I am one of those strange people who loved getting my new school books each year, especially if they were new. The smell those new books had and the sound they made when you cracked them open, I just loved it. Please don't analyze this...I am sure there are deep issues there somewhere.
Books are part of homeschooling, too. However, instead of walking into a building and having your books handed to you, homeschoolers have to do some searching and, this hurts a bit, have to lay down some cash to get those books. Sometimes it is a lot of cash. It's still exciting! I love when a box of books arrives and, for the most part, so do the young'uns.
Here's the difference: you think about school books a bit differently when you are shelling out your own money for them.
We consider content, scope and sequence, age appropriateness and the like. Those are all huge considerations and I am sure there are several blogs posts there, but this post is about making those books last and last and last...for 5 children.
Some books are hardcover and made to be reused, especially those for older kids. Many of the books for the younger set are consumable. They do the math page -all 20 problems - and it is done. When the next kid needs that math book, you shell out another $25.00.
After seeing Nate, our oldest, rip through his first $25.00 math book, I started doing some math of my own. We only had the three boys at that point, but I could see every math level costing $75.00 and that was if the price stayed the same from year to year (not likely). Not to mention, the latin, handwriting, grammar and spelling workbooks looming in our future. This was a problem that needed a solution.
Page protectors to the rescue!
I took the workbook apart and put the pages inside of clear plastic page protectors. These pages went into a large three ring binder. When it was math time, we opened the "book" to the appropriate page, Nate took out a dry erase marker and did his thing. When the lesson was done, one quick wipe with a napkin or baby wipe - whatever was handy at the moment - and the page was ready to be done again in a couple of years. Problem solved!
As the kids have gotten older, we still put workbooks in page protectors. However, the writing instrument has changed. More advanced books require smaller writing and even thin dry erase markers are a bit clumsy.
Sharpie markers to the rescue!
Sharpie markers come off of page protectors with rubbing alcohol and a bit of elbow grease. It is a perfect job to do while watching TV. (Just ask the Big Guy.)
A box (or several) boxes of page protectors and three ring binders aren't free, but they do cost less than buying the same math book several times. Office supply stores often have great sales on both items. I've also found some brand new binders at the thrift store.
Even if you don't homeschool, this is a great way to take a puzzle book or a not-for-school-just-for-fun math book and make it last a bit longer. I've put some of the activity books we have for preschoolers in page protectors since they love to do the same thing again and again.
Right now you are seeing your precious shelf space overrun by gigantic three ring binders. I know how you think. If storage space is an issue, and really, when isn't it, just take the workbook pages out of the page protectors and put a rubber band around them until the next kid needs the book. Now you have a binder free and ready for whatever book is needed at the present time. Hmmmm....reusing page protectors and binders. Now you are saving even more money. What could you do with that extra cash?
I think I see a parent-teacher conference in your future...nice.
FYI - parent-teacher conference is homeschool slang for date night.