They will be divided as follows:
Part I - Before You Join a Used Material Sale Group
Part II - When You Find an Item You Need
Part III -When You Find Something Intriguing You Don't Need
1. Decide What You Need
My number one tip is also THE most critical piece of advice I can give. When you are newer to Montessori, it's easy to think, "Well, I need everything" and simply start trying to purchase anything and everything you can get your hands on. Stop and get a plan. I know how enticing Montessori is. It's hard to learn about something so amazing without wanting to reorganize your house that very day. Take the time you need to get your mind around it. Everyone will be far better off if you take a month or two to understand what you need, why you need it, and how to present it correctly. And until you take this critical step, your impulse buying will run you in circles. And a bonus tip... your most critical purchase is your albums.
Montessori is grouped in three-year age spans. This means that some materials may not be needed for two full years. And of course, if you are only planning to home school up until Kindergarten (and no, I won't give my lecture on the importance of the final year) then there are some you will not need at all. Become familiar with the order of presentations in your albums (scope and sequence). Focus on the items you need in the immediate future (6-8 months). Yes, it's tempting to jump on a great deal for something you'll need in a year or two, but keep in mind that if your budget is limited, then you may be robbing yourself of something you need today.
3. Estimate Cost Plus Shipping from Discount Suppliers
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a used Montessori item sell for twice what I paid for mine new even before shipping. In fact, it happens on a regular basis. Get to know the market for supplies from reputable discount suppliers. I know I've mentioned before that Alison's Montessori is my favorite for a host of reasons (check the Bargain Basement). It's also important to add shipping into the equation because it varies vastly with each supplier and will make an impact on your bottom line. I highly suggest keeping a general price list alongside your wish list. Then it will be easy to see just how good of a deal you're really getting.
4. Realistically Face Your Budget Constraints
It's easy to find yourself in a money pit with any method of home schooling, although Montessori tends to get you there faster than most. It's important to understand what you can spend before you spend it. As I mentioned in tip number two, the most critical items are those you will need in the near future. Knowing your limits will help you focus your resources on the important things and ensure impulse buys don't unexpectedly dominate your spending. And of course, don't forget that your school experience will cost more than just the materials. Don't forget to add other incidentals such as office supplies, basic consumables and general needs. Printer ink, colored pencils and work trays aren't free!
Stay Tuned for Part II - When You Find an Item You Need