It's that time again, back to homeschool shopping. To be honest, when these days roll back around I think, this is why I'm homeschooling. School supplies!!
Can I get an amen?
When I was still in school, each year, I got so excited for the new school year. I would get new supplies, new clothes, and a new start. This was the year I'd stay organized, on top of my school work, and be student of the year.
I still feel this way, but at least I now have the skills to make most of my organizing efforts stick. Small victories matter.
Back-to-homeschool shopping, planning, preparing, and scheduling is the real New Year.
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Today, I'm going to share with you the 3 different levels of essential school supplies each homeschool family needs.
We'll start with the absolute most essential, then add to that the next level of essential.
Then we'll add on some great things you'll want. Then, our final level will be great things to have, but totally not necessary, but can seem essential.
Does that last one make sense? It didn't for me either, and yet, at the same time, it does.
Last, I'll talk about what didn't work for us and back to homeschool shopping for clothes.
Absolute most essential homeschool supplies
You probably have some of these on your list already, but just in case, you don't, add them in.
Take advantage of the sales as much as you can. It'll be cheaper in the long run, unless you're like our family and our budget is always the tightest right when school starts.
This is usually why we don't buy any new curriculum until October or so. I try as much as possible to take advantage of sales, but if it's not going to work for your family, it's just not. Don't stress it, don't push it, just move on.
Whew, now that that's out of the way, let's get back to business.
- Paper and/or composition notebooks
- Library card
- Crate (or place to store children's work)
I have the HP LaserJet Pro 200 M251nw (here's the updated version of the same laser printer).
This is my favorite favorite supply.
The day could go to heck, things can go wrong, but I've got my trusty printer to get me through. Melodramatic, yes, but that's how I roll.
Since I'm super duper cheap I buy super duper cheap ink refills and they are wonderful! They last forever and the ink is the same quality as the HP brand's.
When this printer dies I will replace it with a laser printer with a copier. I don't know why I didn't think I'd need the copier function. Doh!
Paper & pencils
- White computer paper (reams and reams)
- Lined paper
- Graph paper (if you need it)
- Pencils -- skip the dollar store jokes of pencils. You'll be making a bonfire out of them in under a week anyway.
- Pens-- if your children are at the age of using them. These are mostly for me.
- Mechanical pencils-- my favorite pencil for ME.
You can't not have them, unless you hate convenience and life.
Composition notebooks are used as
- yearly journals
- scripture study journals
- spelling words
- math notes
- just for fun
In my home I have to guard the paper with a pit bull.
Since we don't have a pit bull, they are always stealing paper out of the printer, out of the supply cabinet, out of their binders, and out of my notebooks!
They even tore up their sketchbooks!
Yes, I almost fainted when I saw what they'd done.
Worse, they tore pages out of MY sketchbook. MINE!
Pages that I had drawn on.
I won't say there wasn't gnashing of teeth going on when I found my drawings covered with basketball team names, a green stick person, and cut into game pieces.
Having an abundance of composition notebooks and blank paper for them to use for fun is vital for
their safety my sanity. It also helps to cut the paper clutter down.
I do recycle their notebooks (after tearing out select pages for keeping) to cut down on tree deaths.
I organize each kids' completed work into the crate.
I have hanging folders for each kid and term.
Inside each kid's term are the subjects broken down into color-coded file folders. I check a paper and then walk over to the crate, drop it in and done. It's off my desk, and out of my life.
Next essentials for your homeschool shopping list
- Colored pencils
- Dry erase markers
- Erasers-- we use the retractable ones. They erase really well, they're fun to use, and they last for a long time.
- Glue sticks
- 3 hole punch
Dictionary and thesaurus
In Robinson Curriculum, vocabulary is huge. Using the most accurate dictionary and thesaurus is also huge.
I found some great dictionaries in a few antique stores. My next task is to find an old thesaurus instead of using the online one.
Regardless of your curriculum choice, pick up an older copy of the dictionary.
We are on our way to collecting some fantastic reference books.
- Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia
- Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia
- United States Atlas
- Met Art Calendar
- A Child's Book of Poems
- Encyclopedia of Animals
- World War II American History
We have 4 bookshelves in our schoolroom.
- Filled with fabric buckets full of books grouped by theme and age.
- Our preschool-toddler area.
- Houses our printer, morning basket, and daily work bins.
- Holds our curricula, reference books, strictly educational books (that I don't want little hands on), and extra supplies.
Oh! I have a storage cabinet that I store our crate in, and it will house our desk carousel.
Not essential homeschool supplies, but it sure feels like it
Oh this is a beauty. I use this for my preschool and kindergarten items, but not as much for my older kids' stuff. A laminator is vital for younger kids.
I use these super cheap laminating sheets. They are thin, but they get the job done. If I want to make sure a certain page is sturdy I print it on card stock paper and it's perfect.
** Skip the laminator if you don't homeschool youngsters. Just find a friend with one or go to a copy shop and have them do it.
Each kid has their own binder and cute dividers.
We are going to be notebooking more this year, and use the binders for this rather than the crate. I'll find a way to bind them at the end of the year and store them in the crate, or keep them on our shelves for reference.
Index card box & cards
We have poems, folk songs, hymns, and scripture verses written on color-coded cards and organized into our memorization system.
This is a definite must (contradicting myself, aren't I?)
We use this one:
I like it a lot, except that when it falls on the ground the trap door pops off and shavings get everywhere. Staining my carpet gray. No bueno.
The solution would be to duct tape the trap door closed, or get a new one, or new kids that stop dropping the dang sharpener.
We used the duct tape and kept the kids.
I keep hoping that I'll run into an awesomely gigantic one someday.
I ordered this beauty a few days ago. I can't wait for it to get here! I'll update this post after we use it with a picture of it in action and my thoughts.
I was really hesitant to get a kindle, I know I prefer actual books, and they're better, but honestly, I didn't have the room to print all the books (Robinson Curriculum) and I had too many mess ups when I was printing them (user error) that I was going through paper and ink too fast. Which was costing lots of money.
In the end, the sweet deal of a price I got on them won me over in combination of the cost and time needed for printing.
- The kids like the novelty of their kindles.
- They enjoy reading on them.
- Saves time
- Saves money
- Tons of parental controls that locks out access to the internet.
- It's easy for them to say they're done reading without being able to verify. I have to rely on their book tests and integrity a bit more than I feel comfortable.
- Upfront cost.
*** I really wanted to add this to the 2nd essential list, because it feels so vital to our school, and yet, if you have access to the most essential items, you don't need them.
Baskets and Bins
We use a collection of baskets and bins from the dollar spot in Target, the Dollar Tree, Walmart, and any random thing that showed up in our house one day.
I'm always changing what they're used for, and sometimes they turn into more work than they're worth.
For the most part, they are very efficient and helpful. I don't like stuff scattered about and get overwhelmed easily if it's all up in my grill.
I get bins and baskets that aren't see-through to help cut the visual clutter and store them behind doors or in bookshelves to provide containment.
I have two big maps, a US and a world map. They are HUGE. Much bigger than I realized when I ordered them, though if I had paid attention I would order them again. They are pretty heavy and have gotten torn on the corners from coming off the wall.
I'm going to try using this mavalus tape to see if it holds up better.
I moved them to the hallway to the school room for easier access to them and to keep the school room walls free for other goodies I want to put up. Plus, there's not much room on the walls with all the lovely windows in there
Rolls of paper
These rolls are perfect for history, science, art, and really anything you can dream of. I'm dreaming of a beautiful mural for this year. It's totally happening.
Your homeschool wish list
- Kindle readers
- Individual desks or a large table to meet at
- Laptop (just for school)
- Individual canisters and baskets (that all match) to store lots of different items
- Art boards
- Beakers, test tubes, and more lab equipment
Supplies that didn't work for us
That cart everyone uses.
We had 2. I tried it 2 stinking times and they both were rickety and heaven forbid you put anything heavy in them (workbook) and the tray slipped. They eventually broke and I say good riddance.
I liked the pocket chart for our tiny space that we used to live in. I had a tiny under the stairs closet to fit everything in. It was hard.
I used the wall with pocket charts. It worked and it didn't. The pockets sagged, things got lost in there, or were just too heavy for the pocket. The kids had problems putting things back away inside them.
Back to school clothes
These really aren't necessary for us homeschoolers and I love that. I don't have to drop a billion dollars on "cool" clothes.
2 years ago, I did buy uniforms for the kids. These were their homeschool clothes.
Each child had:
- A church outfit
- 2-3 play outfits
- 4-5 school uniforms
It was awesome. They were adorable.
- Laundry was a breeze
- No trying to match clothes
- Put them in the school mindset
- White shirts got stained easily (I have the black thumb of laundry)
- Took time to hunt down the best deals
- Making sure they changed outfits before playing
If I do it again, I'll have navy tops and khaki bottoms to help with stains.
Here's what I got:
- Dresses (polo, jumper, dress)
- Shirts (boy long, boy short, girl long, girl short)
- Knee socks
- Sweaters (boy, girl)
Homeschool shopping wrap up
#1 Don't get things that work for my homeschool. Get things that work for YOU, your children, and your method.
#2 Get the most important things first, and save up for the rest. Don't compare, don't stress.
#3 Don't buy everything all at once; you want to make sure they work for you.
You can buy a dollar store version and test out bins for a certain area. If it works, eventually buy a sturdier version. If it doesn't, you're not out $50 and stuck using it out of guilt.
#4 Evaluate quarterly.
#5 Be sure to buy something super fun as well! Maybe some stickers, cute erasers, a new poster, or binder.
Have the Homeschool Fairy deliver it the night before school starts for an extra flair of back to school fun.
I wish you the best of luck and hope that this resource helps make your homeschool shopping adventure totally doable.
What is your absolute favorite homeschool supply?
Looking for more help with homeschool planning?
More school supply help?