One of the questions that I receive the most about homeschooling is, “What do we really need in order to homeschool?” I put together a list of my Top 10 Homeschooling Essentials that you might find handy, but your necessities may vary depending on your family, the number of children that you are schooling, the curriculum that you choose to use, and the lifestyle you lead. This list is MY top ten homeschool essentials – this is our second year homeschooling, and our three boys are in preschool, 2nd and 3rd grade. I have found that it is definitely possible to homeschool your children inexpensively (I’ll be delving into this topic in a later post), and that the basic essentials are things that you probably already have on hand or could easily set up or acquire.
Dedicated School Area – we turned our formal dining room into a school room, but if you’re short on space, any organized small area will work. Homeschooling involves lots and lots of books, so ample shelf, bin or cubby storage is my #1 must have. The key to our success is in the organization, so making sure that all of our materials have a designated space where they can be retrieved from and returned to is vital.
White Board & Dry Erase Markers – I have discovered that my boys respond best to me (in teacher mode) when I am standing up in front of them rather than sitting down, so consequently, I spend a lot of time teaching lessons at our oversized white board. I use the top portion of the white board to write out our daily agenda so that the boys can see exactly what we’ll be working on that day. Having a clear visual list helps to keep us all on task and shows the boys at a quick glance what will be expected of them that day.
Quiet Reading Space – having a comfortable place for my boys to curl up with their books is another important part of our homeschool environment. For now they do most of their reading on our sofas or in their bedrooms, but I love to daydream about turning one of our corners into a cozy book nook like this one from Vivi & Oli. Art Supplies – we do a lot of creative art projects, so having a large stash of art supplies is crucial. I always have tempera and watercolor paints, crayons, markers, colored pencils, playdough, scissors, glue, construction paper and a “collage bin” full of miscellaneous bits and bobbles handy. Consider investing in a professional grade set of colored pencils and high quality art markers that will last much longer than the inexpensive brands.
Display Space – kids love to show off all of their artwork, so we have several spaces where they can display their masterpieces. Large cork boards and this wire display frame are perfect for quickly changing out the old pieces of art for new ones. I also utilize our display space for “Quote of the Week” lessons, maps, and other charts and information related to our current study topics.
A Library Card – the library is a homeschooler’s best FREE resource! Sure, there are lots of great information and curriculum pieces to be found online, but there’s nothing like getting out of the house and going to the library to turn a daily lesson into a fun field trip! The library is also fantastic for reluctant readers because it gives them the (free!) opportunity to explore many different types of books to discover what appeals to them. Allowing your child the freedom to choose books that they find interesting will motivate and encourage them to become lifelong readers.
Pencils & an Electric Sharpener – When my boys attended public school, I used to balk at the notion that each child in the classroom was required to donate two boxes of pencils to the class supply closet (that’s around 1,200 pencils per class each year!). Now that we are homeschooling, I have the firsthand experience to realize that kids really DO go through pencils like crazy!
Outdoor Time & Quiet Time – My boys have a lot of energy, and staying cooped up in the house all day is a recipe for crankiness. Outdoors we are able to reconnect and refocus, so outdoor time and quiet time are both necessary to maintain a harmonious balance in our homeschool day. We like to take our lessons outdoors as much as possible – doing our math or reading assignment in our backyard, going for nature walks, exploring local monuments and historical attractions or simply taking time to visit the park for some fresh air and sunshine. Quiet reading time after lunch also plays an important role in our day, allowing us to explore subjects of our own choosing and to take a short reprieve from the rest of our busy schedule.
Wet Ones – with all of the places that we go and all of the messy art projects that we do, we always have a tub of Wet Ones nearby. I keep them everywhere! Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes clean sticky and dirty hands when soap and water aren’t available, and since the canisters are designed to fit in the cup holder of your car, my kids always know just where to find them. With cold and flu season just around the corner, I can rest a little easier knowing that the Wet Ones wipes kill 99.99% of germs, plus they contain aloe and lanolin so they’re easy and gentle on their delicate skin. We also keep Wet Ones travel packs in our handy Grab ‘n’ Go Bags so that we have them available when we’re out and about at sports practices, games and events.
Above all, what I really need the most is patience and flexibility. Every single day of homeschool life is unique. Agendas change, and priorities will get swapped. Unexpected things will come up, as they always do, so there must be a certain amount of flexibility in all that we do. I am a firm believer in scheduling and lesson planning, but I know now that life sometimes gets in the way of your best laid plans…and that’s okay.
Homeschooling your child doesn’t require much more than these few essentials – an organized space, school and art supplies (and Wet Ones to clean up the messes!), books, nature, and a loving parent to guide them along the way.