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Today, I’m giving you some homeschooling essentials that you need to make your school year a success.
You can create a successful and productive homeschooling environment for your children, and you only need a few key things to do it.
You’ll have to have the right curriculum, a supportive learning environment, and a strong support system–for yourself and your children.
If you’re new on your homeschooling journey or wanting to revamp your approach, grab a notebook and take a few notes. I have you covered today with these homeschooling essentials.
I wanted to homeschool my daughter from the time that she started school. I knew that she was advanced–reading on a 2nd-grade level and performing at the end of 1st-grade level for math by Christmas in kindergarten.
However, I was a full-time student and a part-time substitute teacher and daycare cook. I couldn’t just stop what I was doing to homeschool her, unfortunately.
By middle school, we had trouble finding things that would challenge her in reading because she was already on a late high school or early college level. Books available at that level were either boring or inappropriate for a middle school student.
The summer before her 9th-grade year we took the leap into homeschooling. By the time she finished high school, she had also earned her Associate of Arts degree and was able to take all those credits with her to her first year of college.
Homeschooling Essentials: Curriculum
When it comes to curriculum, you have a lot of options for types and prices.
Types of Curricula
When I say “types” of curricula, I mostly mean how it is delivered. You can purchase a curriculum that is online only, paper and pencil only, or a combination of the two.
Choosing a Curriculum Type
When we were choosing the curriculum to homeschool our daughter, we decided to do a mixture of online and books.
For the first year, we decided to do math and science in books. I was not confident in my ability to understand these online, if I needed to help reteach something. Both of these subjects were book-based. The math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks, had CDs that she used to get the daily lesson. Now, that company uses online videos, I believe, but we had CDs.
Her freshman year, she did take Astronomy, and for that we used Crash Course videos on YouTube. We added a lot of things to it, like field trips.
Everything else for her first year was online, I believe.
Complete or Mix and Match
You can see that we mixed and matched the curriculum we used. After researching several complete curricula, like Sonlight, I decided that picking and choosing was our best option.
Do the same thing. Make a list of the subjects each of your children will be taking during the school year.
The core subjects:
How do you feel most comfortable teaching? Do you want books or online lessons? Also consider if you want to do the teaching yourself, be in a co-op (where you and other parents teach one another’s children), or have online videos for lessons. The choice is yours.
Homeschool curriculum can get expensive. However, you do have choices here as well. Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool is online and completely free. There are other websites that offer free homeschool curriculum as well.
If you choose to purchase a complete curriculum, you may pay several hundred dollars. With multiple children that price will skyrocket quickly. If your children are in the same grade, you can use the same curriculum for them. Just don’t let them write on the original workbooks or pages. The other option is to purchase a separate set of the consumables (workbooks and pages) for each child.
If you don’t allow your children to write in the books, you can resell them. Many parents resell used homeschool curriculum items on eBay and other sites. That’s a good way to get a return on your purchase and get items for cheaper.
Mixing and matching your curriculum may help you to cut down on the upfront costs of these homeschooling essentials.
Homeschooling Essentials: Learning Materials
As you begin homeschooling, you will realize that you need more materials than just a curriculum.
For example, you will need reference books, like dictionaries and encyclopedias. Yes, you can use online versions, if you prefer.
Textbooks and Workbooks
Even with a complete curriculum, you may want to have other textbooks on the same subject. This will give you a different perspective, possibly. It could give you a better, simpler explanation of a topic.
Gather some workbooks for practice as well. Your child may need more practice with a certain math concept. Having extra workbooks or practice pages is a great thing. You don’t have to come up with the problems and solutions yourself.
Kits and Manipulative
Math manipulatives are great to have on hand, and it’s not just for the lower grades either. You can use blocks, cutouts, and counters for middle school and high school.
I used to teach high school English. Any time I allowed my students to use objects, like blocks and balls in class, they loved it. If I could have done it every day, I might have tried.
Science kits are often sold separately. Some people do the lab experiments, but others don’t. Sometimes you can use household items instead of purchasing lab kits for science.
Think about the classes your child is taking. What are the required tools for that subject? Does he/she need music books for piano lessons? Is a sewing kit needed to learn basic sewing this year?
Many of the games that we played growing up are great to use for teaching life skills and lessons.
If your child is studying anything that needs some rote memorization, flashcards are a game changer. They aren’t just for colors, numbers, and letters any more either.
Have you seen the periodic table flashcards for kids? Where were those when I was in school?
We all know that the internet holds valuable resources for daily use. Did you also know that you can use sites like Khan Academy, YouTube, and PBS for homeschooling? Those three sites are high on my list of homeschooling essentials.
Educational software is a good addition to your homeschooling supplies. Your child can do lessons, practices, quizzes, games, and activities online to reinforce what he/she has already learned on the topic.
I could include this with the “school supplies” section, but I feel like there are things that will go in this category that won’t fit into school supplies.
Grab these things to make your art time the best:
- Drawing tools
- An easel
- Clothes that can get messy
- Colored paper
- Anything else that you can think of that your child can create with.
Be sure to hit all of the “Back to School” sales at your local stores. You will need some of the same things in homeschooling that you would purchase to send your child to school.
The homeschooling essentials:
- Binders (you do have to be organized)
- Markers/colored pencils/crayons
You may have a lot of this already. If you have children, you use these things anyways. When they are on sale, be sure to grab them and keep a supply for the year.
Homeschooling Essentials: Technology
Whether your curriculum is online or on paper, you will need some kind of technology in your homeschool. If you have software, games, or apps for your children to use, you will have something on which to use it.
Here are some things to consider having in your homeschooling essentials toolbox:
- Chargers (maybe have an extra, just in case)
- Internet access
- Headphones (You do not want to listen to the music from a game. Trust me.)
- Mouse and mouse pad
- Lamps (for their work areas)
You probably have most of these already. If you have more than one child to homeschool, you may need multiple of some of these items. If not, you will have to work your schedule so that they don’t need the computer at the same time. .
Homeschooling Essentials: Library Access
If your children ever attended public school, they had library access daily. When you begin homeschooling, you will need to provide that access for them. Library access is one of the homeschooling essentials because it gives you a way to meet other homeschoolers, have reading time, and go to group activities.
Schedule and Planner
Since I was in high school, I have carried a planner with me. However, once I write down a date and time, I tend to remember it. Then I don’t need to look at the planner again.
Having a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule is essential in homeschooling. You have to know where you need to be and what you need to be doing.
When my daughter started high school and we began homeschooling her, I needed my planner on a daily basis. I was working full-time, and we had something every weeknight. I had to stay on top of my planning to get it all done.
For all of my calendar planning, not lesson planning, I used this Blue Sky planner. I still have one, and I need to get a new one.
As a teacher, I had paper lesson plan books. I got the same thing to use for my daughter for her homeschooling lesson plans. We wrote them out on Sundays and checked them every evening. We used the Maalbok lesson plan book, but ours had a different cover design.
No matter what planner or lesson plan book you decide to get, you need to keep up with dates, deadlines, projects, and appointments.
Homeschooling Essentials: Support
Children in public schools have a system of supportive individuals surrounding them–in a best-case scenario. It is supposed to be the best environment that is most conducive to learning.
You need to set up both of those for your homeschool.
You’ve heard the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Although that was meant for a long time ago when people lived in villages and helped raise one another’s children, it could still apply today.
You know how difficult parenting is. Imagine doing it with no help at all. You wouldn’t want to do that and don’t want to homeschool without a support system.
When we started homeschooling my daughter, I was teaching full-time. I was blessed that my dad was retired, and my daughter stayed at my parents’ house with him to do her schoolwork.
We had a supportive network of other homeschooling families around us in our weekly activities, like church and bowling.
Some families are not supportive of homeschooling, but you can find other people in your life who are supportive. Don’t let a few negative people stop you or discourage you.
My daughter worked at my parents’ dining room table with her headphones on for her first two years of homeschooling.
Her last two years were at home with me (2019-2021). At home, she worked on the couch, in her bed, at the table, or at her desk. Comfort was key to making learning better.
When you are getting set up to homeschool, be sure that you include places that your children can be comfortable. Put out a beanbag chair in the corner for them to sit in when they read. Let them sit on the couch or in the recliner for math. Make the area as distraction-free as possible, but be sure that your kids are comfortable while they learn.
Homeschooling Essentials: Socialization
One of the most common myths about homeschooling is that homeschooled children have no social skills. People tend to believe this because our children aren’t at school in a classroom full of other students all day.
Homeschooled children have plenty of socialization opportunities. They are involved in sports, clubs, music groups, and church. All of those have other people their age for them to be around.
It is your responsibility to be sure that your children have these opportunities to be around their peers. Set up playdates and reading groups. Hang out at the park after church. Sign your child up for a sport at the local recreation center. Take them to swim lessons during the summer at the YMCA. Do something that gives your child a chance to be around his/her peers.
Homeschooling Essentials: Flexibility and Adaptability
Homeschooling is amazing when you have patience, flexibility, and adaptability in your homeschooling essentials toolkit.
Have patience with your children, spouse, and yourself. If you are new to homeschooling, it is going to feel like you are messing up, but you probably aren’t. Give yourself and others grace.
Be flexible with your schedule, planning, and curriculum. Unexpected things are going to happen during the day. You’re going to have unplanned guests show up or a forgotten doctor’s visit to go to. Just roll with it. At first, you will feel like you are getting “behind” in what you are supposed to do, but you set the schedule. You make the lesson plans. That gives you the freedom to change them when you need to so you can accommodate other things.
As for the curriculum, if it isn’t working for your children, change it. Do what you need to for it to work for your children.
Here are some of my other homeschooling posts I think you will find interesting.
Homeschooling is every emotion all at the same time. We are everything–teacher, parent, counselor–to our children.
If you have homeschooling questions, send me a DM on Instagram. One of the best homeschooling essentials is the community that you get to be part of.
I hope you took notes on these homeschooling essentials. They really help when you are starting, changing, or continuing your homeschooling journey.