One thing I hear a lot when people find out we home-school is that they don’t know how we could afford it. Between curriculum, supplies, and me being home rather than having a second income the math just doesn’t seem to add up. Well, let me be honest. Yes, home-school can become expensive. But that is only if you really want it too. The truth of the matter is while there are a lot of great curriculum choices out on the market these days the range from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. However, that isn’t the only option out there. While I have been blessed with access to a wonderful complete curriculum choice currently that hasn’t always been the case. When I made the decision to start this journey I had very little to get me started. It was then that I realized if I had these top 10 must have items I could provide my kids with a quality education on a super tight budget.
.) 1.) My Kids
Ok, so this one probably seems silly to include in the list. But the truth of the matter is that if I didn’t have them there wouldn’t need any homeschooling items in the first place. Pair that with the fact that my kids enjoy the freedom and ability that homeschooling brings. I won’t lie to you and say that everyday is perfect, in fact, a lot of days are the exact opposite. However, everyday we are spending quality valuable time together learning and growing along side each other.
2.) Library Card and Books At Home
I am a firm believer that if you know how to read you can learn absolutely anything. Access to the library is the most valuable home-school resource anyone could have. We have a library day every week. I take the school-age kids on Mondays where they are given the opportunity to get a handful of books of their own choosing. We also look through the resources that go with the lessons for that week. On Wednesdays we go to Preschool story time. This time is just for me and little bit to get a chance to introduce her to the joys of the library, books, and reading. It’s never too early to read to your kids.
I also believe that everyone should have books that stay in the house. A personal library, nothing to large or elaborate, is a must for kids. It is amazing what happens when you see a kid find a book or a series of books that they get lost in. The kind that will become their safe space that they will want to visit time and time again.
3.) A Basic Plan of Attack
This could mean a great all in one curriculum with all the textbooks, workbooks/sheets, and supplies you could possibly need OR this could just simply a basic scope and sequence of where you want to go for the school year. As I mentioned before this part can get as cheap or as expensive as you would like it to be. Homeschooling has grown so much in the past several years that there are now complete online curriculum options that are completely free. However, a complete lesson plan isn’t necessary. As long as you have a basic plan of attack your home-schooling year can go far.
4.) Internet Access
Now I know that I said the best place to get information is from the library, and I will stand by that. However, we live in a great time where we have access to information beyond what our local libraries can provide. The internet, while it can be a scary place, is also an invaluable resource for the homeschooling family. With the rise of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon as well as websites such as YouTube we are able to use videos to supplement our lessons regularly. With access to websites like Pinterest, Education.com, and Teacher Pay Teachers we are able to find resources that someone else has done the hard work of creating without having to completely reinvent the wheel.
5.) A Good Set of Basic Art Supplies
This includes crayons, markers, colored pencils, water color paints, some modeling clay, lots of regular pencils, construction paper, white paper, a ruler, and a pair of scissors. Anything else you might decide you want to add to the mix would be great too. Having these supplies readily on hand makes getting through and unit or project a breeze. Most of the time the kids will enjoy having the ability to work with their hands and still get the basic concept of the lesson down. Sitting still and listening to mom drone on and on about a topic is just no fun. And completely goes against my particular method of homeschooling. We wanted the freedom to be able to engage more. But I can’t do it if I don’t have the right supplies. Luckily, I keep all these things on hand to be ready for any moment.
6.) An Organization System that Works for You
While homeschooling has a lot of freedom that goes along with it, there are also a lot more responsibilities. In a lot of states there are requirements that have to be met to prove that the children are getting a proper education. In the places that don’t have those requirements, there is still a need to keep track of what is being learned-especially when you get up into the junior high and high school years and are preparing for the next steps. This is why it is important to have some way of organizing all that work you kiddo has been doing.
My method of organization comes in the form of 3 ring binders. Each kid has their own binder and sheet protectors. I keep a handful of material throughout the year and then as we grow I am able to look back and see the progress. Sure this makes for a lot of 3 ring binders but it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that everything is being taught and learned that needs to be.
7.) A Printer/Copier
Worksheets, printable materials, and other various items are almost always a necessity when it comes to school work. Having access to a good printer makes things so much easier and a lot cheaper. Instead of having to go to somewhere and have copies made or print items from either the library or an office supply store you can get everything you need done from home.
8.) P.E. Equipment
This could be something as simple as a ball or as elaborate as a full set of gym equipment. Sending the kids outside to play with a ball or a jump rope is a beautiful thing. Kids that attend a traditional school setting get opportunities to go outside to recess and it is no different for homeschool families. When you have a good ball and a yard to play in the possibilities are endless.
9.) Extra-Curricular Activities (That I Don’t Have To Teach)
This one may be a little controversial. Some families that home-school hold to the idea that all education should be done at home by the parents. I think there are benefits to having some things done by other people. For example, my kids are currently involved in a Lego Robotics League at one of the local private schools in the area. They get an opportunity to be around other kids and make new friends while learning a new skill that I can’t teach. They also learn to listen to authority that isn’t just mom and dad. They also get to take art lessons each week from their artist grandma. This gives me time to lesson plan, run errands, and take a few minutes to just breathe.
10.) Tea, Tea, and more Tea
Ok, so this one equates to CAFFEINE!! For some out there this might be coffee, coffee, and more coffee but I am not a coffee drinker. I do, however, love me some tea. While my mom can go through an entire pot of coffee on her own before leaving for work I can go through a kettle of tea in that same amount of time. Find what gets you going and use it.
11.) Bonus: Encouraging books and podcasts
This one is an extra must have for me. In almost every profession out there professional development is something that is required. I think the same can be said for home-school moms. There are a lot of wonderful books that help support and encourage the home-school mom. Along with those books, in our technology driven age, there are a great number of blogs and podcasts. I am a firm believer in growth and development, and as a stay at home mom, this is one of the best ways to make that happen.
So there you have it. Those are my top 10 (plus a bonus) home-school must haves. As long as I can have these things we can have the best home-school experience possible.