Are you just getting started homeschooling or are considering it as an option and want to know what homeschool supplies you need to get started?
After homeschooling for a number of years, I’ve realized that you don’t need as much as you think. In fact, it’s easier to just start with the basics, and then buy more things later, after you get into a routine and feel certain you will continue using the curriculum you picked.
You’ll also want a chance to first look over the curriculum and schedule to determine which projects you think you will (and won’t) be doing. One of the mistakes I made early on was to buy everything that’s recommended and then have extras we didn’t actually need.
Each curriculum is packaged differently so you’ll have to decide when ordering if it makes sense to purchase it all or if it may be okay to wait and see.
So, what are the basics?
Here is a list of the essential homeschool supplies to get you started:
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1.) Binder and/or notebooks.
The way you use binders and notebooks will largely depend upon which curriculum you choose.
However, regardless of the curriculum, I recommend purchasing a nice binder such as a Five Star Customizable Binder for each child to keep their best completed work in. This could include supplementary drawings, written stories, creative projects, etc. A designated binder can really help keep all those loose papers organized. And as an added bonus, the binder becomes a wonderful keepsake at the end of the year.
If you decide to use a binder for storing your child’s work, I also recommend using sheet protectors for storing drawings or other items you don’t want to hole punch.
Some families use a notebook for storing much of their work. This does require some cutting and pasting which could be time consuming but is another option.
For certain subjects I additionally like to have the kids use a flexbinder for keeping their papers organized. These binders allow you to flip the cover behind so that you don’t necessarily need to remove the pages in order to write inside (this is harder to do with hard covered binders. We have had a good experience using the Five Star Flex Hybrid binders for spelling, science and language arts.
A sketchbook for each child is really nice to have. That way they can pull it out for sketching something related to a book you are reading together, a topic they are studying, or if they just want to draw. We already have so many loose papers in our house that I prefer to have each child’s sketches in one place so they won’t get lost.
3.) Quality pencils with a good pencil sharpener and pencil top erasers.
We added an electric pencil sharpener this year and it’s something I’d have purchased sooner. It is so much quicker and easier than hand sharpening pencils. High quality pencils and erasers are really important too. We prefer to use Ticonderoga pencils and PaperMate pencil top erasers for our day to day work.
4.) Storage for papers.
I am working on better organizing all of our papers but we have had this colorful 10-drawer organizer from the beginning. It’s not the sturdiest but it’s held up and has been a huge help in keeping paperwork clutter to a minimum. With the amount of papers and projects both from schooling at home and outside classes, a place to store everything is critical.
Having some sort of planner is very important. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be anything fancy. From basic notebook to detailed online planner, feel free to use whatever works best for you.
I have personally used these planners in the past: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, Homeschool Planet (which is an online planner), the Sonlight Instructor’s guide with some added sticky notes (when we used the Sonlight curriculum), and a regular ‘ole spiral notebook.
6.) Cozy spot for reading.
We added a huge beanbag this year which is perfect for reading together! Maybe you’ll decide to just use your couch but pick a comfy spot that can be used for reading great books together.
7.) Basic art supplies.
It’s important to have a stock of good quality art supplies, not only for art projects, but also for creative projects and other things the kids work on.
We have found that certain name brands are better quality and worth paying a little bit extra money for. You may have some (or all) of these items on hand and only need to buy a few things get started.
Double check to make sure you have:
- colored pencils
- colored gel pens (we love gel pens!)
- chalk pastels
- oil pastels
- watercolor paints
- tempura paints
- paint brushes
8.) Math manipulatives.
Depending on the type of math curriculum that you use, you may receive math manipulatives with your purchase. However, it can be fun to use other types of math manipulatives, especially in the early years.
We have used everything from crackers to cereal to bits of papers to fun little plastic figures. Some of our favorites have been the Learning Resources Counters.
Learning Resources has a lot of different themed counters including:
9.) Variety of paper.
Lined paper, double-lined paper, construction paper, blank paper and card stock. I like Pacon Construction Paper and buy white card stock from Walmart for the best deal. If I want the lined paper to match up in size to notebooking pages I’ve printed out then I just print out lined paper from PrintablePaper.net (it’s free) rather than use loose-leaf paper. It works great to keep things more neat and organized!
10.) White board with dry-erase markers.
We have used a white board from the very beginning of our homeschool journey. Our large magnetic board has mainly been used for All About Reading and All About Spelling lessons.Our small white board has been used for many different purposes. We’ve used it to practice math, writing and spelling. I’ve also used it to create drawings to explain things and the kids have turned it into a sign when they’ve played store. It’s been well-loved and I’m glad we’ve had both boards.
As for the markers, I’ve found that Expo markers work best and are worth the money.
11.) Other Basics.
You’ll want to make sure you have the basics on hand as you would if you were sending your child to school. There are a few other items that your child wouldn’t necessarily need for school that you may want to have.
I recommend checking to make sure you have the following:
- glue sticks
- masking tape
- Scotch tape
- 3-hole punch
- handheld hole punch
12.) Laminator and pouches.
If you have preschool or elementary aged children you may want to consider purchasing a laminator. This comes in especially handy if you are planning to reuse materials you print.
I purchased a basic Scotch laminator and it has held up well with no problems. The Scotch brand laminating pouches are good quality but sometimes a little more expensive. I’ve also used the AmazonBasics laminating pouches which have worked well.
13.) A library card.
Most homeschoolers would agree that books from the library are a must for your homeschool. In fact, books from the library were probably our #1 source of learning materials in our early years of homeschooling. We’ve always purchased curriculum and then supplemented pretty heavily with library books and videos.
Our library system has a pretty good selection of books so we often find what we need as far as physical books. However, their audio book selection isn’t quite as good so for audio books I have really appreciated Audible. At first it seemed kind of expensive to me but I have actually found it really worthwhile to have an Audible subscription. They offer a free trial if you are interested in trying it out.
If you have a preschooler and/or kindergartner, you may also want to check out the post Optimize Your Homeschool: 7 Ideal Items for Preschoolers & Kindergartners.
And for more essential homeschool tools posts, be sure to head on over to iHomeschool Network!