What are the essentials for someone just starting homeschooling? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Let's make a "Back to School" list for new homeschoolers!  Doesn't have to be curriculum, though it can be!  What are the things you just can't do without in your homeschool?  Include links if you can!

 

For us, a good pencil sharpener, this one is like ours.  A Good printer, here's ours: HP Officejet H470 And a whole lotta Sharpies!! (Especially the gel highlighters!)

 

What are your must haves?


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#2 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 11:07 AM
 
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I don't want to be a downer but I truly don't think there is much you need. And I'm always so wary of making people think they need xyz to homeschool. I've seen people homeschool on nothing, really so I'd really hate to suggest that there is anything that you need. Also, its so individual. My girls love, love, love good quality art stuff and I spend money on that, but my son could not care less what he uses to draw with (though he's fussy about the clay etc he uses). Even books-I've seen highly literate homeschooling families with hardly any books, which honestly to me are an essential, because they homeschool quite differently to me.

 

So without wishing to be a killjoy, I'd say there is nothing you need and my advice to newbie homeschoolers is don't rush out and buy a load of stuff now, but wait a few weeks or months and see what it is that your family seems to need.

 

Although I cannot deny that, personally, as the proud owner of a very similar pencil sharpener, and a dizzying array of Shapies (thank you, Craftster, for that addiction!), they are both seriously fun and versitle things. Other things that are a lot of fun and very useful IME are a glue gun, a sewing machine, a soldering iron and a kindle/e-reader (great because you can vary the font size and the low contrast helps dyslexics, but also because you have this huge library of free, out of copyright, kids classics. And I find them easier to read from than holding a book when reading to kids somehow). We've also just discovered voice recognition software-this is free on our computer, which runs Vista-and its made a huge difference to my 9 year old who struggles a lot with writing but has a lot to say.


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#3 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I agree. You can do it bare bones for sure!  But there are nice things to have that people have found useful. And for someone just starting out, something on this list might resonate with them as being useful and help get them started. :)  It can be overwhelming to get started and sometimes, just having a pen you love, or a planner that works brilliantly can make a nice difference. :)

 

Or Post-Its....LOL Post-Its makes everything better.


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#4 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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Subscribing to this! Starting homeschool and it's so daunting!

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#5 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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An attentive parent with a willingness to find resources that fit with the child/ren's interests.  Seriously, that's the beauty of homeschooling -- time and freedom to help your child follow his/her passions. 

 

OK, but more practical answers would be: blank paper. Lots and lots of paper. :-D

And if you're lucky enough to have an older but still working computer/laptop, there are a TON of free educational resources for kids of all ages on the internet.  My 4yo daughter loves http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/preschool/preschool.htm and starfall.com looks pretty great too.

Oh, and of course, a library card! 
 

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#6 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 12:56 PM
 
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A valid library card. 

 

Like Fillyjonk, I sort of cringe at "must have" lists, but I'll still admit that having a computer, an internet connection, and a working printer make homeschooling a LOT more feasible for me; they even make it easier to use library resources.  Also, I like to have a stock of printer paper in assorted colours and weights.  Sometimes stuff just works best on pink card-stock.

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#7 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 01:04 PM
 
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fillyjonk - I think saying you don't need anything is a bringjoy, not a killjoy! How many people don't do things because they think that what they have is not enough?


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#8 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 01:10 PM
 
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If starting when they are young:

 

crayons/colored pencils

pencils

LOTS of paper

(or if you dont want to kill so many trees, dry erase markers and a big white board or chalkboard)

 

*LIBRARY CARD*

 

and i'm guessing this goes without saying for most people, but *the INTERNET*. even if you dont do online classes, google and youtube are great for the last minute questions.

 

Also, a netflix streaming acct is good for watching documentaries.

 

and a pinterest account is great for science experiment ideas, homeschool organization ideas and free worksheets.

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#9 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 02:31 PM
 
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Ah penny has just dropped, Adina I've just seen that there is a similar thread in the Back To School thread. Is this an official type thread?

 

Can I suggest that I think part of the issue here is that there are very different ways of homeschooling. Certainly that's my difficulty. As someone who pretty much unschools, the supplies I buy are very tied to what my kids tell me (or I perceive) that they need. I don't need anything to homeschool them, that's not really the deal. Actually the single most useful things I own for homeschooling are probably a breadmaker and slow cooker (crockpot?), because they are a huge convenience. But also, to be fair, I think generally unschoolers are quite confident in their choice really, I don't know that we'd tend to need a special pen or anything (I'm not trying to be flippant, apologies if it seems that way). Our printer is old and rubbish but we don't use it much. Only one of my kids uses a lot of paper. Etc.

 

So I'm not sure what the purpose of this thread is exactly, but if in some way its to help new homeschoolers in some form, it could perhaps be helpful to be clear where we are coming from. So as a green-minded unschooler its important to me to model ingenuity, resourcefulness, make do, etc and community, and mindful consumption. And so its also incredibly important to me not to hang my homeschooling fears on buying stuff. I totally get that if you are worried about, say, teaching math then you might be after an awesome curriculum and no criticism of that at all. But I also think its easy to overbuy as a homeschooler and I wish at the start someone had said, no, you don't need that stuff.

 

Coming at this from the perspective I do, this is really important to me which is why I just wanted to clarify.

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#10 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 06:09 PM
 
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I agree. Everyone finds their own style and essentials. It's just like with a new baby - everyone is trying to convince you to buy their product that is the magic bullet to all problems and will make everything simple and effortless. And even if you ask frugal minimalist people who share your general parenting style for their essentials, you'll still end up with an overwhelming list, because every parent and every kid is a little bit different. And this is even more true of homeschooling, since you have people starting at all sorts of different ages and abilities, and coming to homeschooling for many different reasons.

 

I think it is important to remember that someone starting homeschooling who has no idea what they want to do is probably someone dealing with a crisis of some sort - a bad school situation, moving, illness, disaster, or anything else that might push someone to suddenly homeschool. Address this crisis, and give the child(ren) time to heal, while using that time to do research and figure out what resonates with you. Taking a few months to do "nothing" and deschool is not going to hurt the kid's education in the long run in the slightest.

 

I'd also recommend starting with the bare basics - reading, writing, and math. I find that when I try to include everything and the kitchen sink, I get overwhelmed and don't do any of it. But if you start with a basic core that you can consistently do regularly, the rest will follow. 

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#11 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 06:13 PM
 
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I honestly can't think of a single specific commercial product that's essential (or even important) to our homeschooling.  Sure, we use a computer and printer and printer paper and pens and pencils, but the specific brands aren't important.  And none of that is truly essential, anyway.  Even though we make a lot of use of the computer and the internet, I could envision having a great homeschooling experience without them.  As others have said, the library is one of our most important resources.  But that's not essential, either.  I can think of all kinds of cool things we could do and learn without using books at all.  Heck, I could even teach reading without using books, as long as we had access to pencil and paper.

 

If it's somehow helpful to Mothering to have a thread with links to commercial products, the thread might better be titled Commercial Products You Use and Like, because it looks like most of us agree that someone just starting out with homeschooling shouldn't feel the need to spend a lot of money and shouldn't see any particular item as essential.

 

As Fillyjonk points out, the things that are going to be most useful are so individual.  We don't have a glue gun or a soldering iron, and we don't miss them.  (Though, actually, now that I think about it, I bet if I asked my daughter, "Do you think we should have a glue gun?" she would say, "Yes!"  I can't imagine what we'd do with one, but I bet she can.)  I could link to the really good caterpillar field guide we have, but most people reading this have probably never even felt the need to identify a caterpillar.  Hmm, maybe that would make an interesting thread - What Stuff Do You Use All the Time That Other Homeschoolers Wouldn't Find Useful At All?

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#12 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 06:41 PM
 
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1.  I ordered a piece of oilcloth to cover the table when we started and it has been indispensable.  So much stuff gets on your table, this has saved my cherry dining table.

 

2.  Kitchen timer, 2 minute timer: kitchen timer helps the big one to manage her time and stay on track and 2 minute timer helps motivate the little one, how many words, lines, sentences, can he read in 2 minutes.  We use both A LOT, but we use them pretty loosely.  Adding an extra five minute is easy as is turning the 2 minute over again (sometimes nonchalantly).

 

3.  I put a box of pencils, a box of colored pencils, a box of crayons, a box of scissors, a box of glue sticks and white glue and a jar of markers in the middle of the table.  The kids sit on either side and both of them can reach all of these tools/supplies.  This alleviates arguments and excuses to get up from the table.

 

4.  Spend a little while at the beginning of your first day talking about your expectations.  I did not do this, but quickly realized that this was necessary.  We ended up making little posters that we hung on the walls.  They say: listen carefully, follow directions, cooperate, do work neatly, do work completely, do you best, bring a great spirit to school.  This helps a lot when we are struggling.

 

Good luck!!

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#13 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 07:11 PM
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I agree that nothing is "needed" much like nothing on the lists for new moms is "needed".  It all depends on who you are and how you want to do things.  

 

My list for what I "needed" with a new baby was small.  So is my list for homeschooling.  I realize that others might not ever need the things that I really appreciate having on hand, but that is ok. This thread seems to be a great jumping point for what we find useful.  My list is coming from a fairly ecclectic homeschooler.  

1.  Paper. . . we do use a fair amount of paper

2.  White board. . . I do like to save trees and we use the white board (the lap kind mostly) quite a bit.  

3.  Dry erase markers to go with said board.  However, in a pinch you can use washable markers and a wet cloth.  Also, note that the "dry erase crayons" were not a hit at our house.  We were happy to not worry about lids, but the crayons were so messy and got all over our hands and clothes.  I will be trying the dry erase pencils this year though.  I really want to get away from lids.  You wouldn't think it would be so hard to close a pen, but for some reason (at my house) it is.  

4.  Library card-- we do use our library a lot

5.  Computer with internet.  Def. not essential, but I appreciate it greatly that we have this. 

6.  A car.  We don't live near public transit, nor do we live in an area with great public transit.  For us, a car is very near "needed."

7.  Various supplies:  it is nice to keep various glues (we love our glue gun), paints, brushes, pens, pencils, colored paper, and random art materials on hand. 

8.  We also like math tools--ruler, protractor, compass, etc.  

9.  Magnifying glass

10.  Books, magazines, games, etc.  

 

That's it.  One biggie though is the desire to homeschool.  If I didn't want to do this, it would be terrible.  If my kids didn't want to learn this way, it would be terrible. 

 

Also, something not needed (but is handy for us):  gram scale and kitchen scale.  This year we are getting a microscope.  I hope I find it worth it. 

 

Amy

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#14 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 07:20 PM
 
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Second that on the library card.  We visit every week and regularly have more than the 50 book limit out  (the librarians love to override).

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#15 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 08:16 PM
 
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I like each child to have a large, blank sketch book with pages that don't easily tear out.  That way, they can keep their work more organized and we're not always losing pieces of paper.  Last year, as our first project, we decoupaged the covers of the sketchbooks with collage materials and modpodge. 

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#16 of 34 Old 08-05-2013, 10:39 PM
 
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This is such a timely post for our family!  We are in a situation where we feel pressed both by circumstance and desire to homeschool for the year, as Ocelotmom has pointed out, and I have been frantic about how to make the most of our time.  My daughter is only 5 and the plan is to homeschool only for one year until we move, so I was (and am!) loathe to buy expensive curriculum without a chance to see how they would work out. 

 

I'm so glad to read that families are doing this and enjoying it without having to buy a bunch of stuff.  Although as Fillyjonk has mentioned "must have" lists aren't always useful for all families across all situations, these posts have definitely shoved me out of the "need to buy" mode into feeling more confident in proceeding with what we already have since most of the items posted are already floating around our house!  I already try to demonstrate resourcefulness around the house by fixing or reusing items before buying new things, so I'm happy to realize this can extend into our new homeschool adventure too redface.gif Thanks for the posts!  

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#17 of 34 Old 08-06-2013, 04:32 PM
 
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one essential: LIBRARY CARD  bonus - its free!


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#18 of 34 Old 08-07-2013, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Fillyjonk - official as in I started it. lol.gif   The desire here is to get threads that are good resources for families who need them.  I started the school supplies one because often things like backpacks and lunch containers are easy to find, but hard to know what you won't be replacing in 2 months time.  So, some tried and true products are always helpful.

The one I started here because starting homeschooling it is easy to get bogged down in the "school at home" mentality and trying to set up a full schoolroom at home, and we do use stuff - even if we unschool. Paper, internet, printers, pens, library cards.  And sometimes it is nice to have this discussion all in one place. :) So, no weird ulterior motive. :)  Other than making good resource threads. Links are nice if they are products that are worth linking to, but not necessary. (Full disclosure, we do make money from some links, but I don't link to anything I don't personally use and love)  I agree that they are two different mind sets, but even I as a homeschooler need my kid to have a backpack for camps, and like recommendations. wink1.gif  And sometimes it takes a "must have" list for me to see that now I really don't need a laminator and a wall sized white board. lol.gif


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#19 of 34 Old 08-07-2013, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

As Fillyjonk points out, the things that are going to be most useful are so individual.  We don't have a glue gun or a soldering iron, and we don't miss them.  (Though, actually, now that I think about it, I bet if I asked my daughter, "Do you think we should have a glue gun?" she would say, "Yes!"  I can't imagine what we'd do with one, but I bet she can.)  I could link to the really good caterpillar field guide we have, but most people reading this have probably never even felt the need to identify a caterpillar.  Hmm, maybe that would make an interesting thread - What Stuff Do You Use All the Time That Other Homeschoolers Wouldn't Find Useful At All?

 

Heh, we have a berry field guide.  You should start that thread!  That would be great. :)


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#20 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 12:11 AM
 
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Adina, to be clear, the difficulty I had initially was that I'd assumed you were posting as a parent, not as a Mothering official looking to write a guide or what have you. No problem with that being the deal, its simply that that wasn't really very clear to me and I was answering you as I'd answer any other parent.

 

All that said, my understanding as a subscriber is that Mothering is a magazine with a green, anti-consumer remit. I could have sworn I'd seen an article recently along the lines of "Babies: What you don't need." and I thought that was very much in keeping with the philosophy.

 

Unschooling is a philosophy which, to my mind, is really not compatible with "essentials.". The stuff my kids have is stuff we all tend to use, and that's because unschooling operates as part of life. Because every unschooling family tends to be very different, I would not even go so far as to generalise that every homeschooled kid needs a good backpack-actually, my kids don't have their own backpacks, rather we have a couple of family ones that people pick from according to their needs. Unschooling often goes hand in hand with mindful consumption, and does tend to be done on an extremely fixed, single income. Sadly, I do still hear people say that they can't afford to homeschool. Yes there are some things which might be near essentials, like paper and pens, but these aren't specific to homeschooling ether: they are pretty much a given if you have kids.

 

TBH, without trying to be snarky, I'd say a more relevant thread to a lot of homeschoolers this September might be "homeschooling: what you really don't need to rush out and buy"

'

If I lost every material posession tommorrow, it would not prevent me homeschooling. Its an attitude to life, not something you need to buy into.


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#21 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 07:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm glad you have found a way to homeschool that works so great for you. It sounds like your setup is perfect for your family.

Part of the reason I titles the thread essentials is that I did want to know what homeschoolers - of all types, not just minimalist unchoolers - felt like they needed to begin their journey in homeschooling. If that is nothing more than a library card and the right attitude, great! If it is more than that, great! I just wanted to hear about it and have people share what they felt like they needed. I posted personal favorites that I felt like I used daily in my homeschool that makes school easier.

Thanks for your very well thought out feedback. Yours is a good perspective to bring to any endeavor with our kids. smile.gif

Anyone else have things or not things or ideas/philosophies that you feel are good things to have when you start homeschooling?

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#22 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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A library card.  And, in this day and age, a computer with internet access.  Pencils, paper, crayons, markers, paint, playdough, etc. are good things to have but I consider them more of a must have for kids in general, not just home school supplies.
 


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#23 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 09:06 AM
 
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I'm not a minimalist unschooler. Minimalist perhaps, but we use curriculum. I still think that there is nothing that is really essential.

 

However, in the spirit of the thread, here is what we've found helpful, without the implication that someone absolutely needs any of this:

 

Pencils - mechanical pencils are maybe not as environmentally friendly, but I find it helps keep them on task because they don't have the excuse of needing to sharpen pencils constantly.

 

Paper - printer (also used for art) and notebook

 

Colored pencils, crayons, and other basic art and craft supplies. We don't have a ton of stuff - some watercolors and so on, as well as supplies for "real" crafts like sewing. I personally try to avoid markers because they get awfully messy, and the caps get left off, and so on. Saving random household stuff that would otherwise be thrown away can be just as useful as buying up the craft section at walmart.

 

Books. Library card is great, but if you don't have access to a good library, used books from thrift stores or yard sales can fill your shelves cheaply. Or ebooks and something to read them on - there are a number of curriculums based around public domain books that are available for free, as well as the increasing number of non-free ebooks.

 

Printer - if you're planning to print a lot, a low-end laser printer is a good investment. Up-front cost is higher (though we've found them secondhand for dirt cheap), and each toner cartridge is generally more expensive but lasts much longer than an ink cartridge, so cost per page ends up being much lower. We use a lot of curriculum that comes as pdfs, so this is helpful for us. We have a Samsung CLP-620ND, which does duplexing (printing on both sides of the paper) and color, and an old HP laserjet printer/scanner/copier/fax that we found at a thrift store for $5 (some people find the copier function really helpful - we used to when we had to turn in work samples and DS was doing a lot of work on plastic with dry erase markers).

 

Some way of keeping things organized. We have a lot of 3 ring binders and those paper folders with tabs in the center to hold notebook paper, and each kid has a zippered 3 ring binders big enough to keep what they're working on plus pencils and a few books, so it makes it very portable. 

 

A plan - this is the "essential" that screws me up most because I get all caught up in planning and don't actually start because I don't have my booklist for the year perfect. So now I just start in with a general idea of what I want to do and keep working on the details. But a general idea of how you plan to accomplish things is helpful.

 

At least occasional access to computer with internet. People did just fine homeschooling before the internet became big, but it expands your options so much in terms of finding curriculum and resources, buying new or used curriculum, finding online or in-person support groups, and so forth. Presumably everyone reading this thread has at least this :)

 

In the past, we've used plastic page protectors to go over workbook pages, and then written on them with dry erase markers to preserve the workbooks for future kids. Haven't done it much in the past few years, but it's an useful trick. (I did similar with grease pencils when I was in elementary school, if you don't like the idea of dry erase markers.)


DS born 6/03, DD1 born 9/06, DD2 born 10/10, DD3 born 4/14.
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#24 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 11:37 AM
 
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Another essential: the ability to say "I don't know. Let's find out."

I've home schooled without the internet and with. With is much easier and more immediate. No waiting to go to the library to look something up.

Doesn't everyone have boxes and bags full of random things to be used for crafts and projects? Toilet paper tubes, buttons, needles, felt, embroidery hoops, paint, paint brushes, crayons, wax paper, wood, nails, hammers, pipe cleaner wires, wire in general, fabric, paper, pencils of all kinds, screws, empty thread spools and cones, shoe boxes, wrapping paper. Or is that just us?

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#25 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 01:41 PM
 
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"What do you like for homeschooling?"

"You don't need anything!"

"It might deter people"

"I question the societal implications behind the wording of this question"

Ah you critical-thinking Mothering hippies. I love you smile.gif

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L is 4 and P is 2 and #3 is "due" in January.

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#26 of 34 Old 08-08-2013, 06:58 PM
 
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I think the key thing a new homeschooler needs is flexibility. So as you shop for curriculum and supplies, don't spend so much that you feel locked in to a something that ends up not working for your family.

 

Buy used curricula, ask people for recommendations or to look through their curriculum. Build up to a full load over the first few months-- it's okay if you don't have every subject ready to go on the day public school starts. Be slow to purchase and spend as little as you can the first 6 months. Once you've got some experience, you'll be able to make purchases with confidence and spending a little more may make sense. 

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#27 of 34 Old 08-09-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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I'll play:)

 

You MUST have somewhere in the middle of nothing and everything right?

 

MY must haves:

 

The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick- keeps me keeping the main thing the main thing for my still little children.

 

A large bookshelf

 

Low standards for keeping the house immaculate- it probably won't happen for you and it will NEVER happen for me :)

 

A clear plastic table cloth on my dining room table- I switch out maps and other cool things underneath it depending on what we are studying.  Tacky?  Sure.  I don't care- it is awesome because it is our only table and is easy to clean, keeps our maps nice, and we can dry erase marker stuff on the map and wipe it right off.  

 

A free spirit :)

 

I don't really do the library thing- so for me a must have is an Amazon spending fund :)  Mine isn't huge but I like to have enough set aside so I don't feel bad about buying a biography on George Washington or an old copy of The Heroes of Asgard or whatever we find interesting at the time.

 

Mead Composition books- I like the Primary Journal ones for younger ones and now my DD is using a regular one for Language Arts.  I love them for the same as the above poster- the pages don't easily tear out and it keeps things together.

 

Sharpies :)  They are just so gratifying!

 

Sol-U-Mel- it takes off the above listed sharpies when they get out of hand

 

Pinterest

 

 

I actually feel like I need a well thought out curriculum.  I use MFW.  I don't feel obligated to following it to the letter though.  I also am pretty much a Charlotte Mason type of homeschooler- so I have a book  For the Children's Sake that keeps me grounded- like when I was temped to switch to Rod and Staff LA.....  Craziness cured...

 

I have also used the heck out of my laminator and I have started all my kids on A Reason for Handwriting- so those are kind of my must haves too.


Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#28 of 34 Old 08-10-2013, 08:38 AM
 
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For parents, (depending on what your local requirements are):

 

Some binders for things: like daily/weekly record keeping, a binder for ideas for on down the road (like the map I just got locating all the National Wildlife Preserves on the I-5 corridor).  I pick up my binders at the thrift stores.  I can come up with a thousand uses for them.

 

Lots of magnets for the fridge, and push pins and scotch tape for posting up all kinds of crap.  One strong magnet on the fridge holds the eraser end of a pencil (which is *bing!* metal).

 

Containers (can be small cardboard boxes, jars and tin cans) for holding pencils and pens and collecting popsicle sticks, feathers, beads, rocks, candy wrappers, and whathaveyou.  (DD2 just used some feathers to "fletch" her "arrow").

 

I really like having trays (dental trays, found at thrift store) for projects.  Not essential.  Baking sheets will work, but our trays get commandeered for days.  (When you buy a "case" of juice concentrate, you get a nice cardboard tray that is useful for collecting projects, but they have higher sides.  I like both for different reasons--the cardboard isn't waterproof.)

 

Day pack (not absolutely necessary, but I like having it and I don't like to think what I'd do without it.)

 

For kids:

 

Extra cardboard for projects

 

Stuff to hold stuff together--glue, tape (duct, scotch, etc.)

 

Stuff for cutting: scissors, tools, probably stuff you have around anyhow

 

Lots lots and lots of paper

 

Pencil, pens, and a really good pencil sharpener or three

 

Stuff for exploration: magnifying glass, measuring tools, binoculars, camera, all stuff you probably have anyway

 

I like having daypacks for each of them for adventures so I don't have to carry it all, not the oversized school ones, but hiking type ones that hold water and a few things.  Any pack or bag will do, though, and you can get creative with canvas bags (loop over shoulders for a pack) and even baling twine can tie a nice strap for a water bottle.  Still, the day packs made for day hikes are the most comfortable.  (This is so *I* don't get stuck carrying everything!)

 

Library card, internet access, either at home or library or a relative's house (internet is great, not absolutely necessary)

 

I do like to have field guides of our own, supplemented with those from the library.  I also like those fold-out guides that are very local and fit in your backpack and weigh nothing.


"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#29 of 34 Old 08-10-2013, 01:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ocelotmom View Post

Books. Library card is great, but if you don't have access to a good library, used books from thrift stores or yard sales can fill your shelves cheaply. Or ebooks and something to read them on - there are a number of curriculums based around public domain books that are available for free, as well as the increasing number of non-free ebooks.

 

Even if you do have access to a good library, shopping thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales is really helpful.  In fact, I'd call it one of our essentials.  You'll find books your library doesn't have, books that are out of print, books you didn't know existed, books so good you want to own them, not just check them out for a couple of weeks at a time.  And they're amazingly cheap.  (Cheaper than paying the suggested $1 to cover mailing costs for interlibrary loans at our library.)  We don't use workbooks enough to make it worth paying a lot for them, but we've gathered a helpful collection of workbooks and other curriculum-type materials from yard sales, etc. and spent almost nothing to do it.

 

Other things that are close to being essentials for us:

 

library card

camera (I use this to document learning for our portfolio)

computer, printer, and internet access

paper, notebooks, ballpoint pens, and pencils

art supplies (markers, colored pencils, watercolors, watercolor paper, pastels, etc.)

calculator, ruler, scissors, tape, glue

nets to catch things, containers to keep critters in (aquariums, fish bowls, commercial plastic animal containers with lids, and lots of old yogurt containers), field guides

globe

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#30 of 34 Old 08-11-2013, 06:29 AM
 
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I'm not a minimalist. I need quite a bit ^_^
I am noticing the older mine get, the less they need...
Much of this stuff is lifestyle based...I am unschool-y (not fully there, don't think I'll ever be and I'm ok with that) and our house values responsibility and independence.
This is a silly list...but it really is the stuff I Need to be the homeschool mom I want to be...I homeschool little ones so here is my list of must haves:

A tarp that covers the floor of our workspace (this allows me to be the fancy free Homeschool mom in my dreams) it comes in handy! (like for when the 3 yr old decides she's big and independent too and wants to pour her own paint and does fine until the last one where she spilled some and in shock spills just over a pint of paint on the floor...I would not have been as light hearted if it happened on, say, the rug nor would I have been as willing for her to try, fail, try, succeed). I put it down only when working with messy or indoor water projects.
(I also keep adjustable tent poles and guy lines & stakes in the car for when we have group meetings in less than favorable weather...I live in New England.)

Art supplies of choice, paper, etc...but I also have a canvas bag by the door that I can grab as we run out the door with sandwich sized ziplock bags containing: crayons, pencils, scissors, glue stick, letter stencil plastic thing, paper, paper clips, clear contact paper, hole punch, a tray or dollar store cookie sheets, Legos, and clay or playdo and fruit leather (emergency snack), a baggie with baggies, a couple of babyfood containers, $20, a magnifying glass, 1small bottle of water, hand towel, swiss army knife or leatherman, watercolors and a brush that can hold water. I will often edit the bag in a parking lot but it makes the crazy less crazy and allows for a spontaneous trip to turn into a teaching moment. (Like finding a perfectly intact dead butterfly in the parking lot or dead wasp in the doctors office...) I will also add and subtract stuff seasonally as needed. (Summer: bug spray, fall & spring: extra socks, winter: gloves)

For camping or vacations I use a small plastic tub about 12-16 qt which also holds books on the theme in addition to the stuff listed above.

Storage bins of all shapes and sizes. While I like the plastic ones, Kmart has fake canvas folding bins which come in very handy. I'm also not above a good cardboard box...

Magazine holders are good for pulling books on a theme and having them available.
Bulletin boards or dry erase boards and other organizational items du jour.

Two calendars: one on the fridge that holds everything the family (eg spouse) needs to know and another on the wall at preschool height that has information translated into pictograph for them to know what is happening. I find the second calendar invaluable as it saves me from answering the same question 5 million times, and makes even the little one responsible (but not liable). The littlest one (starting at 2.5 yrs) is responsible for crossing off the day and helps everyone understand the day is over, we aren't doing anymore activities (other than bed-based ones) until daybreak. I highly recommend it! I can't tell you just how many hours it has saved me in night time fights...

Each child has a storage device of choice. My son has a shelf, my daughter a collection of snap ware bins in various sizes to hold their...findings. This different from their toys and playthings...it's more like homeschool props they found (made) which might be delicate or special. My son calls it his natural history museum.

Well labeled recycling bin...we have a bin of stuff that recycled or sorted every 4-6 months that holds at least two tin cans, coffee cans, vinegar bottles, toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, cereal boxes, etc for craft projects in addition to the weekly stuff. This helps keep the pack rat mentality down...
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