So, you’re considering homeschooling? Or maybe just curious. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that there are countless paths you can take. The terrible thing about homeschooling is that there are countless paths you can take. No, you’re not reading that wrong. The benefits and challenges are often the same! To get started, check with your State Department of Education and figure out the legal requirements for your state.
Below are some “must haves” for homeschooling. This is in no way a comprehensive list. Just the results from an informal poll of homeschooling parents. YOUR list will all depend on your personality, your students’ personalities and the blending of your personalities, but this list will help your brain get focused.
When you and your students have a library card, your options are truly limitless. So many libraries have an interlibrary loan system in place, you really can get almost any book you could ever need.
For the homeschooling parent, the internet is INVALUABLE. Soooooo many websites out there with printables to supplement your curriculum. Often, there are free lesson plans to be found. Some students homeschool via online channels. Moms find support through mom blogs. Some homeschooling parents are able to telecommute to a job AND homeschool. With all the “stuff” that accompanies homeschooling (worksheets, projects, supplies, etc), you’re constantly looking for organization tips. Pinterest. Pinterest. Streaming videos – PBS.com, Amazon prime, Netflix, etc. Homeschooling parents research EVERYTHING. There’s a lot of junk you have to weed through. You CAN homeschool without the internet. Not sure why you would choose to, though – unless you’re the type of person who likes to mow their lawn with a pair of scissors. A word of caution, though. Please, please, please – SECURE YOUR INTERNET. Not just virus protection. Protect your kids. There are TONS of accountability programs like Safe Eyes or Covenant Eyes out there that help keep undesirable content blocked. Just because you’re home with your students doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments when your kids are at the computer alone. There are things that they CANNOT un-see.
This is KEY. There will be moments (or days or weeks or months) where you doubt your ability. Not everyone smiles on homeschooling. Many people have STRONG opinions against homeschooling and they will share them with you. Make sure that you have a strong support system in place to help encourage you and to problem solve with. Make sure that you’re connected with at least one homeschooling family who has been at it longer than you. They will help you feel hope when you’re doubting yourself. It’s sometimes hard to imagine what it looks like to homeschool middle school or high school students or to have multiple children to homeschool simultaneously. Connect with “seasoned vets” to get a better idea of what you’re headed for.
Everyone has their own list of “must-have” supplies.
- A decent printer/scanner/copier is near the top of the list. You will use it. A LOT. A WHOLE LOT.
- A convenience item that’s worth the money – an electric pencil sharpener (affiliate). The little handheld ones WILL do the trick, but most of them quit functioning properly and your students will mutilate tons of pencils with them. You’ll waste lots of time and energy and pencils.
- A dry erase board (affiliate) and markers are also handy. The size is up to you. Some folks like a wall size board while others prefer something that’s easy to put away. Others prefer chalkboards to dry erase boards.
- Paper, paper, paper. Yes, you’ll need THAT much. Printer paper, construction paper, craft/drawing paper, notebook paper. Mostly printer paper – especially if you print a lot of worksheets.
- A planner/calendar is a must, too. For planning, tracking, record keeping and more. Most folks are VERY particular about their planners. Others just print whatever free template they can find online. To each, their own.
- Most other supplies are the same types of things you’d expect – notebooks, pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.
If you’re thinking of homeschooling and you want it to be a rewarding experience for your whole family, you must be flexible. Sometimes you have to change course if something’s not working for your student. Sometimes you wake up and feel terrible and you end up letting your students color all morning instead of doing math. Sometimes you have an unexpected visitor stop by and your whole day is thrown. Be ready to roll with it. If you’re a strict planner, be sure to build in “make up” days just in case life interrupts your schedule. Always remember why you chose to homeschool, though. You’re hoping to give your child more of yourself. Let it be a positive experience for all of you. To do that, you have to be ready to roll with the punches because you can be SURE there will be days where you feel like you’ve been knocked out!
As you’re beginning this journey – or even just thinking about it – remember one thing…….you CAN do it. So often, non-homeschooling parents are quick to say “I couldn’t do it. My kids would NEVER listen to me”. That’s a lie that we tell ourselves. Homeschooling isn’t for every family. It’s not the “best” way to parent or educate your kids. Only you can determine what’s going to work for your family. But, if you have the desire, don’t underestimate yourself. There are tons of homeschooling parents who never thought they’d be able to do it. Best of luck as you start your journey!