Part I - Before You Join a Used Material Sale Group (Tips 1-4)
Part II - When You Find an Item You Need (Tips 5-9)
Part III -When You Find Something Intriguing You Don't Need (Tip 10)
What to do When You Find Something Intriguing You Don't Need
Yes, that's right. We have one measly tip. I'll try to make it good.
10. Refer Back to Your Plan
As much as you can plan for the items on your "needs" list there will always be a number of unexpected extension items that pop up from time to time. It can be hard to make a sound decision in the heat of the moment when you know how fast things sell. These can turn out to be great enhancements to learning or space-wasting drains to your budget. So how do you know which is which?
Hopefully you have taken the tips in Part I serious. If so, you're well on your way to making a sound decision. The first consideration is budget. Your "needs" list is always your first priority. If you don't have the money then don't buy it. But again, this means that you have taken the time to know your limits and to understand where you're at with your budget at any given point.
The other aspect, also discussed in Part I, is determining if the item fits within your identified needs. There is an endless parade of fabulous extensions, each with something unique to teach your child. The reality is that you don't need them all. In fact, you can't even use them all in a reasonable time frame. I would double that statement for extensions aimed at the toddlers. Before you commit, ask yourself when and how you plan to use the item. If you can't answer definitively, move on. An extension concerning the lifecycle of butterflies is a wonderful addition if you have already planned to raise live butterflies. On the other hand, a puzzle map of a France may not be a good investment if you weren't already planning to delve into that country; especially if purchasing it meant sacrificing a puzzle map of Europe or the continents. While most materials are good for everyone you need to focus on what is best for your particular plans.
And of course, the standard considerations apply here as well. Is the item complete, in reasonable shape, acceptable in quality and priced well? Does the material even line up with Montessori principles? I realize that may sound like an odd question but keep in mind that anyone can call anything Montessori. The name is so popular today and many individuals don't truly understand the characteristics that a Montessori work should exhibit. Yes, I have seen things listed that are actually contrary to the method.
There is no exact science in this area so do your best to remain levelheaded. Chances are if you see a logical reason to pass you will eventually be glad you did.
And that concludes our three part series. I'd love to hear your experiences with buying used materials.