Are you starting to homeschool? I was last year and I know that it was a little overwhelming trying to decide what items to purchase and what not to purchase. Here are the supplies for homeschooling that I found that I use and needed for our year. Since my kids are small (4 and 6) this list focuses on items that young learners will need. We also do quite a few art, craft, and science projects so my list for art supplies might be longer than some. Of course, every home is different, so I would love to hear and additions (or changes) that you would make to my list of what you need to homeschool.
Basic School Supplies
If a school supply is on the average public school list, your kid is going to need it to. I recommend stocking up on several of each of these items when you see a good price. The last thing you want to do is waste your time searching for scissors or a pencil when you are trying to keep your kids on task.
- Pencil Box – It really helps to have each kid have their own pencil box to store supplies. That way you aren’t fighting over crayons during math.
- Small Box of Crayons – It didn’t take me long into the year to figure out why teachers request that the kids ONLY bring 12-24 crayons to school. Searching for the color yellow is a lot easier and faster when your 6 year old isn’t trying to pick from 20 hues.
- Scissors – For some reason we lose scissors at a faster rate than socks at our house. I give both kids their own pair and keep extras hidden away just in case.
- Glue Sticks – You will likely need way more glue sticks than you ever imagined if your kid is in one of those early school grades. Elmer’s liquid glue is great for certain projects but definitely not what you want to deal with on a daily basis. And, just go ahead and buy stock in a glue company if you have a preschooler like me who loses the cap each and every time she glues.
- Pencils – We keep about 10-20 sharpened pencils on hand at all times. I know that sounds ridiculous but you won’t believe the time and stress it’s saved me from searching for a pencil. P.S. Mechanical pencils and little writers don’t mesh well.
- Erasers – It’s good to have some of those pencil top erasers or the big pink ones. Young kids erase a LOT and furiously and if you don’t watch them they might even bite the erasers off their pencils while you aren’t looking.
Other Basic Supplies
You may as well stock up on the following supplies otherwise you will find yourself stuck on a day where your curriculum requires one of these items and it’s no where to be found. Most of these items you probably have on hand, but be sure that you have them in an easy spot where they can be found quickly. We do a lot of crafts in our house. If you aren’t the type that does many crafts you might not need all of these items.
- Washable Paint – I love crayola paints. Be sure that you have plenty of the basic colors: Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, White.
- Paintbrushes – It’s nice to have a couple different sizes on hand.
- Washable Markers
- Construction Paper – I like to buy colored paper in bulk and then we always have plenty of extra.
- Lined Handwriting Paper – We use Handwriting Without Tears (which by the way is amazing), so I keep a ream of lined paper to go with the program handy for writing assignments.
- Painting Paper
- Metal Brads – Brass brads are one of those things that you never think about, but they are an essential item for many craft projects designed for small children.
- Rubber bands
- Paper Clips – This is one of those odd things that you will suddenly need as a “spinner” or in a science experiment.
- Hole Punch – I’ve found that having a heavy-duty hole-punch is essential for certain projects (dollar store won’t cut it here.)
- Dry Erase Board – We use a large magnetic one with magnetic letter tiles for our spelling program (All About Spelling). You may not need such a big one but it is helpful to have a chalkboard or dry erase board available if you have the space.
- Small Dry Erase Boards – I also have a small dry erase board for each kid. It was recommended by our math curriculum and my kids do enjoy having their own board for everything from writing spelling words to doing math facts. You could use paper instead of dry erase boards though.
- Dry Erase Markers (if you use dry erase boards) and Wet-Erase Markers (useful for when you DON’T want something to rub off).
- Eraser for the boards (much better than hands, though you could certainly use a paper towel).
- Paper bags – I like to have a stack of the white ones on hand for puppet making and other crafts
- Craft Sticks or Popsicle Sticks
- Day Planner – You may want to have a day planner to keep your log if required by state. I used an Excel spreadsheet instead of a planner.
- File Box – Our state requires a portfolio (probably a good thing to keep on hand regardless) so I keep a file box handy to stick samples of work in.
- Dot Markers – These markers are great for entertaining small kids.
Manipulatives & Resources
What you need depends quite a bit on your kid’s ages and the subjects that you are covering. These are the things that we used this year:
Supplies for Math
- Counters (you can buy really cute ones like the people pictured above). We also use our set of 100 connecting cubes quite a bit. The kids love the way that the cubes snap and even use the cubes for creative building.
- Shape blocks and shape cards (I’m not sure how necessary these are but they sure keep my 4 year old occupied, and they are useful for geometry)
- Some type of base ten blocks are really helpful if you have a kid who struggles understanding the base ten concept of math. You can use them to explain all sorts of math concepts for a long time. We don’t use the Math U See curriculum ourselves but we love the Math U See blocks that come with the program! You can also find base ten sets of blocks. Cuisenaire blocks are another useful way to show the differences between numbers. You don’t need one of each of these, but you probably will want at least one base ten set.
- Play Clock – We only needed it for one unit but when we needed it, it came in handy. Making your own clock is a cheaper option.
- Flashcards for any concept that you are memorizing such as addition & subtraction facts.
- Abacus – We also use our abacus quite a bit for illustrating Base 10. I found it at a yard sale. My only complaint is it’s bulky and takes up quite a bit of space.
Supplies for Social Studies
- Laminated Maps are great for tracing and being able to mark locations with a marker. An atlas or a globe is a more permanent option.
- For supplemental work, my kids loved listening to the Classical Conversations Timeline Song and to Story of the World. Note: Both of these resources are from a Christian perspective.
Supplies for Reading
You will probably need some specific items such as service word flash cards, etc. that go with your program. I think that these are extra resources though that any one could use.
- Letter tiles. I love my magnetic letter tiles that come with All About Spelling. Even my four-year-old likes to spell words with them.
- Bob Books are the perfect early readers for a kid who is just starting to read. We used them as an expansion on our phonics program.
- I used both Reading Eggs & Starfall quite a bit to keep my 4 year old busy while my 6 year old worked on school. These programs were also great for keeping my 6 year old doing school work if I needed to take a phone call or take a couple minutes to clean up breakfast dishes.
Technically, you don’t need any equipment to homeschool but I found that these items made a big difference for us.
- Desks – Yes, I know supposedly everyone homeschools at the kitchen table and in their pajamas. I’m all for the pajamas (up until about 10 am) but we needed the desks. Otherwise there is just paper everywhere and the kids have no place to stow their stuff. I was lucky enough to score some old school desks for a bargain price.
- Printer – You will likely end up printing and printing and printing if you are homeschooling. I quickly found that my slow out-dated printer couldn’t keep up. We have this awesome HP 8620 now, which is really fast and economical. I love that it can 2-side copy too from the feeding tray (it’s almost as good as using a real office copier).
- Laminator and laminating sheets – It’s so much better to laminate than to print over and over again and then your kids can use those dry erase markers.
- Pencil Sharpener – After wasting hours of my life looking for those cheap little pencil sharpers (which tend to disappear in my house), I bought an electric sharpener that stays plugged in and as a result never moves. I’ve never looked back. Plus, I love that I can quickly sharpen 20 pencils at a time. Now I never look for a pencil either!
- Decent computer – I work from a computer with a wide screen and then run my kid’s online classes on a smaller screen beside me. It’s a little crazy and more of a work-at-home and homeschool set-up but if you have a similar lifestyle you may need to do the same. I found that a fast computer allowed me to work simultaneously while video was running without slowing anything down. In any case, you are going to need something that you can find resources and print from while homeschooling. And, the internet is full of free videos and worksheets that can be a huge help in a pinch.
COMING SOON . . .
- Our curriculum choices from our first year of homeschooling (and what we thought)
Bethany is a local Greenville mom who enjoys sharing her enthusiasm about Greenville with other local families through her website Kidding Around Greenville. Her content is featured on Visit Greenville, iOnGreenville, and Studio 62. You can contact Bethany at Bethany.Winston@gmail.com.