I am now in my third year of homeschooling and am now at a point where I can see the necessities from the niceties of teaching my young ones. When I first started, I felt like I needed lots of stuff. I came to schooling with preconceived notions that I not only had to duplicate the school rooms of the public education world to the "t" but that I also would have to spend lots of time and money doing it by buying up pricey texts and libraries of books and supplies. I now know how untrue those notions are. If you are just getting started and are looking for the things you really need, consider making a top 10 list as well to help you prioritize and cool your heals in the midst of the teacher stores. Some of the basic things we use day to day cost pennies, so this is also my wallet friendly list as well.
- writing utensils- I usually at most need a couple of pencils and a set of crayons. Everything like markers and paint sets are really just extras. You can do lots of wonderful art projects just with a box of crayons.
- Paper- You really can get by with just a few of the notebooks you can buy on sale at the beginning of the year, a pack of construction paper, a pack of index cards and a ream of printer paper. You may need more or less depending on how many kids you have, but again, these are the basics!
- A library card-nothing is more valuable to me or my kids for homeschooling than our precious library cards. This is our gateway to books, videos and other media galore! We are able to check out leap pads and other really exciting media like signing time videos and more. Oh did I mention they have shelves full of phonics books, because they do!
- A set of math manipulatives- this does not, I repeat, do not have to be pricey bears or what ever other stuff they are peddling at the stores. My kids find great joy counting beans, macaroni, pom-poms, bottle caps, and other objects found around our home. Gosh, you could use anything you could collect like bread ties and old keys. These homemade ones are really great and cost little to nothing. You also don't need pricey bins to store them either, zip top bags work great.
- Internet- not so much for your child, but for you, so that you can access the amazing amount of learning materials available for free download. I can not put a price tag on the generosity of others that have put together websites and blogs and shared their talents to help educate.
- A binder with some dividers-Being organized is what helps me stay on task when it is time to learn. I have utilized workboxes and folder system but really, if space and money was tight a binder with some dividers could get the job done of compartmentalizing my child's work.
- A park or yard or a place to play- It is important that kids have play time. People undervalue playtime sometimes, but kids are learning all the time and play time is no exception to that. I don't think you have to have a climbing structure or all kinds of crazy equipment. After all, you don't need anything more than a yard to play tag. If you do splurge on some sport stuff, keep it simple to stuff like a ball or a frisbee and a jump rope. Open ended items get way more use than those "one hit wonders".
- A workspace- This could be a kitchen table or desk or even a clipboard. Where ever and what ever it is, it just needs to be friendly to what ever possible writing and drawing activities may arise. My kids favorite days are when we take the clip boards outdoors and do stuff there. Don't have a clip board? Check your park for tables!
- A willingness to be inspired-That's right! I would imagine that every homeschooling parent could concede that being open to inspiration has led to amazing things. You could be looking for ideas for science projects or helping your child through a tough stage, but either way a willingness to be inspired can really make a difference.
- A support system-I suppose I could have just decided to homeschool with no help or support from others, but at this stage I see that as crazy talk. You know that phrase "It takes a village to raise a child", it couldn't be truer. I am not saying you have to run out and join the nearest homeschool coop, but I am saying that having the support of your spouse and those around you can make for a great deal more joy in homeschooling. I was overjoyed when the local firehouse was more than happy to have my little homeschoolers come for a tour, as was the local grocer. I find that with the right attitude and the right words, most people will want to help be a part of educating our kids.
Well that's it. No fancy books or software or pricey science/math "stuff". Just what you really need to educate your child from home. If you do want to know about the cool stuff that I have picked up along the way, then just stay tuned!