Homeschool families need these 4 essentials! Put these must-haves in your homeschool classroom and don’t start your school year without them!
We are almost at the end of our first semester officially homeschooling (via the university model method), and I’ve quickly learned that there are just a few must-haves for every homeschool family (at least for this homeschool family!). These are back-to-school essentials we’ve used again and again!
Check out what I think every homeschool family needs:
1. An Electric Pencil Sharpener
Don’t ask me why I did not think about this before or why I tarried so long in making this purchase!
We started out the school year with a handful of pencils and two tiny plastic pencil sharpeners (that we probably paid no more than $2 each for!). Not only did those little sharpeners easily jam with pencil shavings, but they were also small enough that we frequently misplaced them! Really? They were pieces of junk and caused more frustration than good!
Call me the unprepared homeschooling mommy, but I will admit that we have begun several homeschool days with unsharpened pencils and not a pencil sharpener in sight.
I finally broke down and bought this electric pencil sharpener a couple weeks ago. Our homeschool has never been happier! Not only are we prepared with nicely-sharperned pencils, but the sharpener has doubled as an entrainment device for all three of our girls!
Get the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle NOW!
2. A Good Printer and Ink
Especially if you put together your own curriculum or purchase printable curriculum online, this is a must!
There is no way we would make it through homeschooling without our printer and ink, and we only do part-time homeschooling, and the curriculum comes from our university model school! I can only imagine how much more ink a full-time homeschooling family must use.
We recently upgraded to this printer, which also includes a scanner and copying machine. We really love these added features! In fact, we use the copying and scanning almost as much as we use the printing feature!
3. A Laminator
This is another one that I would have never thought about just a few years back!
If you are a homeschooling family who is making your own curriculum, using posters and decor for your “classroom” that you have made and/or printed yourself, or are developing games and other manipulatives, printing on cardstock alone will not cut it (ask me how I know this!). Laminating your visuals will help them to last for a lot longer.
Plus, laminating allows you to turn any old piece of paper into a “white board”! My girls love to use white board markers on laminated papers, and they are so easy to wipe clean!
My family uses this laminator.
4. A Library Card
This one is FREE! Hallelujah!
But seriously, every homeschooling family needs a library card. If you cannot afford a good printer, laminator or pencil sharpener right now, most libraries have these for you to use for a small fee (or even for free!).
Most importantly, instead of spending the big bucks on books that go along with your curriculum, check out your library first!
My girls are just now getting into read-aloud chapter books, and I was thrilled to find the Boxcar Children series (one of my favorites from childhood!) at my local library recently. They are also enjoying audio books, and our library is chock full of them. We can even check out audio books via our library’s online system–without leaving the house!
A tablet also allows other educational games, reading and research. I would also recommend an ereader like a Kindle Paperwhite. It doesn’t offer the distraction of a tablet and just allows them to read, and with Kindle Unlimited, there are lots of options.
A free Kindle app on the computer (or somewhere)!!! I could not BELIEVE how many classic books are now free on Kindle–Swiss Family Robinson, Little Women, Beowulf, Pilgrim’s Progress, A Christmas Carol, and the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, just to name a few. We still LOVE our library, 🙂 but it is nice to have classics & such right on the computer all the time!
Oh I LOVE my Kindle app!
I agree with all 4!
The only thing I would add is a scanner. If you have multiple children its so much cheaper to copy most workbook papers than it is to buy each a workbook.
For a printer I highly recommend a toner printer though. We bought ours about 7 years ago and I used it through my direct sales biz and this past year we’ve homeschooled. I print a lot, but I buy my ink online through Amazon for like $12 for all 3 colors and 2 extra large black ones for under $10 and I haven’t had to change any in over 10 months. So yeah initial investment is more, but you save so much more in the long run.
Thanks for the input, Angela! I love that our printer has a scanner!
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
We have utilized all 4 of those things in our homeschool – especially the library card! 🙂 Other fun items are window markers, personal sized chalkboards, and a giant dry erase board. We’ve also used personal sized dry erase boards that were lined on one side and plain on the other. My kids found practicing penmanship and spelling words are much more fun on a dry erase board.
Thanks for all the great suggestions! I love all those!! Penmanship is nice on the white boards!
[email protected] Peaceful Haven
I agree Erin! I have been homeschooling for over 17 years and these 4 things are indispensable. Thanks for all your great posts!
Great tips Erin! The one I would have to add would be the King James Bible. We start our homeschool day with devotional time, scripture memory and singing hymns so that we keep God first in our lives!
YES! I NEED an electric sharpener and a laminator!
Hmmm, while I love my printer and laminater, I would hardly consider them needs. I would consider our museum memberships needs. Our car because we do several week long trips a year.
We don’t even own an electric pencil sharpener because we buy mechanical pencils.
Great ideas! Our first little one is on her way any day now and these are perfect things to start getting or looking for so that when she is old enough to start school we are ready. We have been trying to be proactive about how we want to home school her and what to use. I have a feeling these things will be indispensable. Thanks for the post 😉
The only thing on this list we actually need is #4 the library card. While we have a good reliable printer I would not consider anything made by HP remotely good. I worked int he IT field for 6 years prior to having my kids and the Hp printers broke all the time but the Epson and Canon printers were work horses (and more efficient on ink usage). I had a HP printers while in college and most broke within a semester or two. For my family we use an Epson printer and ours is several years old with never a jam or an issue.
Was it you that posted about the middle ages study for your homeschool? I know it was on of the blogs I read regularly? Was looking for a link to purchase it and no luck can you help me out?
No, it wasn’t me. 🙁 I’m sorry!
The middle ages study that I saw was posted on Confessions of a Homeschooler. It is put out by Homeschool in the woods I think.
I don’t have a laminator, wish I did! But we’ve used those clear plastic page-protectors for some papers that we want to keep fresh-looking and to use as dry-erase, like a blank state map. And I print on card-stock for some of the stuff that needs to hold up a little longer than regular paper.
Love card stock!
Good pencils. Cheap pencils require constant sharpening because the point breaks off if you look at it hard. The frustration saved is worth the extra money spent.
A good Internet connection is a must for us! ’nuff said 😉
A good Internet connection is a must for us! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about the wonderful world of homeschooling! 😉
We just bought a laminator on Saturday, and I wish I had bought one sooner. I never wanted to spend the money on it. We use our printer all the time to print curriculum sheets. My daughter got her own library card back in September 2014 (two months before she turned 4 years old). She was so proud and made me take a picture of her holding it. We go to our local libraries all the time to check out books and dvds, and to attend story time. So nice to have this free option. I will admit that I have not broken down and gotten an electric pencil sharpener yet. I’m sure I will eventually, but I’m still holding off. Great, practical list!
I love your list. I agree with all. I keep telling myself that we need a laminator but I always talk myself out of it. We also follow the same type of homeschool you do, but here we call it community school model. Mon and Wed she’s home and I implement the curriculum her school give me and then tues thurs she with them. I think it’s the perfect combination!
I have to gently disagree with you on #1. I have been homeschooling for 18 years and I have not found an electric pencil sharpener yet that I can get on board with. Even the industrial strength ones give up on me after about a year. The investment was just getting to be more than I could justify spending every year, so I finally decided to go old school and purchased a hand-cranked sharpener that is similar to the ones we all had in our classrooms when we were growing up. This one clamps onto the end of our computer desk, and so far has lasted me all of one school year and into a second. My kids love it and it still works just as well as the day I set it up. I have my fingers crossed!
I would also add that I finally insisted on a printer that does double sided copies after our last printer went up. I use a Christian school in another state for my curriculum and they actually grade tests, reports, etc and issue our report cards. I photocopy EVERYTHING before I send it to them, in case anything gets lost in the mail, and the time I’ve saved after getting our double sided printer has been priceless!
I thank goodness have all 4. Used laminator yesterday.