For kids who are traditionally schooled, back to school shopping usually entails new shoes, clothing, and backpacks, in addition to the ubiquitous items like paper, pencils and glue.
However, for kids who do their learning at home, the needs are a little different. Chances are, you’re more concerned with things like storage and organization than you are with buying the latest and greatest pair of kicks.
Through years of trial and error, sometimes having a dedicated school room and more often not, I have come up with a list of homeschool essentials that help keeps us sane and organized throughout the school year.
Disclaimer: I have used affiliate links in this post. Clicking them provides this blog with a small percentage of profit. Your privacy is paramount and I will never see what you purchase. Opinions are completely mine and not influenced by any desire for cold, hard cash. If you have further questions, please see my LEGAL page.
Ready? Let’s go.
A sturdy, plastic, lidded storage box for personal books, folders and supplies.
This kids are free to add stickers and decorated these however they choose. I love that it keeps smaller items all together and intact as we often have to move them from room to room. They stack easily and usually hold up to an entire year or more. You can also use these for your not-ready-for-school children as an activity box that they get to use during school time. When Judah was small I kept his ‘school’ box filled with a rotating supply of play clay, containers of dried beans, measuring cups, puzzles, coloring things, and more. He loved it and it was so helpful to have him occupied constructively whilst I worked with his older siblings.
Perfect for keeping personal writing utensils, scissors, and glue from siblings’ sticky fingers.
Ticonderoga #2 pencils. Simply the best there are. They mark well, and they’re the only traditional pencil that doesn’t seem to get chewed up by pencil sharpeners. Seriously, Cheaper pencils will not save you money in the long run.
This is probably an obvious one, but if you haven’t considered it, a library card is something that you will use nearly every week. And what fun it is to take your little one to the front desk to get his own, brand new, plastic card that he gets to sign. Not to mention the euphoria your child will experience at his first overdue fine. Buckets of fun, I tell you. But seriously, with all the programs, materials, and ebooks available, a library card really is a key to the world.
A great planner.
There are lots of planners out there, some printable, some hard copy. This is the one I like the best because it was designed by a veteran homeschool mom and is perfect for those with multiiple children. Whether you are someone who plans ahead or just keeps a daily record of what work your kids have accomplished, this is the planner for you.
This little machine will save you so much money in paper and printer ink. Need a multiplication chart? Print one out and laminate it. Have puzzles and worksheets? Laminiate them and have your kids use dry erase markers to complete them. You’ll love this so much you’ll start looking for weird things to laminate, just because you can. Recipes, artwork, cell phone bills. Laminate all the things!
A Kindle or e-reader.
Maybe you’re the world’s most organized person who never forgets to reserve reading materials from your library in preparation for whatever unit study or curriculum you’re using. But chances are, one day, even you, Organized Mom, will forget a book that your child needs. We have several Kindles floating around our house and my favorites are the kind that only download books and articles. That way, there’s no temptation to play a game or browse a website whilst using them. Most states now have an extensive library of ematerials, which might even mean fewer trips hoisting that laundry basket.
Whether you use online classes, disc programs like Teaching Texbooks, or just need to access the library or sites for printables, a good, basic PC is a necessity. My preference is for laptops, as we do school all around the house. Typically, we don’t purchase a lot of software either. I use Google Docs for almost everything, and as long as there is wifi, it works very well.
A sketchbook and various art supplies.
We’re talking colored pencils, watercolors, brushes, stickers, old magazines to cut up…the works. I always make sure each of my kids has his or her own sketchbook, even my non artsy kiddos. We’ve used them as nature journals, scrapbooks, yearbooks, scribble books, and more.
Just a little tip. Did you know that studies have shown that we humans listen and absorb heard information better when our hands are busy? That’s why people doodle whilst on the phone and why we remember better when we takes notes in lectures. So letting your child doodle when she listens to you read or teach can help her remember better. I’ve found this to be true with my kids and recommend trying it out.
And, just for fun, I’m going to throw in a bonus.
The Our Groceries App.
If you’re anything like me, you make plenty of lists. Groceries, Target runs, To Dos, and then you lose them. Or leave them at home. This app is free and it can be used by multiple people. You can make lots of lists that your spouse and kids can access. The next time you head to Aldi, your list will be at your fingertips. Forgot the eggs again? Text your husband and ask him to stop on the way home. He’ll just need to open the app to see what’s needed.
Seriously, this app has proven itself worthy again and again. Get it now.
There you have it-my essentials list.
What items would YOU add?