Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Homeschooling Things

When you start homeschooling, there are some things you know you're going to need. Paper, pencils, books. Then there are the things you don't think too much about until you really get in the swing of things. I am starting to collect supplies for next year, so I've been thinking a lot about those little things that I need to restock because they've become must haves!

1. Small Whiteboards. We have these small whiteboards that are blank on one side and have handwriting guidelines on the other side. I bought them as an impulse buy when they were on sale one day. They have turned into a necessity. We use them several times a day every single day. I use them to write or draw examples for math or have the kids do a review problem without wasting paper. I draw diagrams to clarify points. The kids draw on them when they're bored, they practice spelling on them. I like that they are so portable because we often move around to different areas in the house depending on when we're doing school and who's napping. We have a bigger whiteboard and we even have an overhead (that I primarily use for part of my lactation workshops), but these small lap boards can't be beat for daily homeschooling use.

2. Good Erasers. Of course you need pencils, but you also need erasers. Lots of erasers. That piddly little eraser on the end of the pencil? That's not nearly enough. Some of those erasers don't work very well either and the last thing a child who's already frustrated needs is to keep scrubbing at a line that just won't disappear until they tear a hole in their paper. The regular ol' pink pearl erasers seem to work the best and are easiest for the kids to use.

3. A Good Pencil Sharpener. I have wasted more money than I care to think about on pencil sharpeners that don't work. They gouge at the wood, or break off the tips, or get clogged with shavings. More importantly, I've wasted a ridiculous amount of time trying to get these sharpeners to do a half decent job. I've finally decided I need a good, heavy, manual sharpener (so I don't have to keep up with batteries or always have it near a plug) that has a burr-type mechanism inside rather than just a flat blade. I have my eye on that one up there and plan to get it when I put in my next Amazon order.

4.Glue Sticks. And more glue sticks. And even more glue sticks. And then some extra glue sticks. Elementary aged children go through incredible amounts of glue. An art project doesn't hardly count as an art project unless they get to use up an entire glue stick. We use some liquid glue too, but I usually give them a glue stick to minimize mess, so we go through a lot of glue sticks. I have one of the giant glue sticks that is only mine to use. I buy the regular sized ones for them and I buy large quantities when I find a sale.

5. A Printer/Copier/Scanner. Depending on which curriculum you use and how you set things up, it could definitely be worthwhile to have a real copier. Real copiers are pretty expensive, so I haven't taken the plunge yet. I have made do with our regular printer/copier/scanner/fax. It's not exactly ideal, but we already had it and it gets the job done. The printer is a necessity because there are a lot of great websites that will assist you in creating your own worksheets, but you'll need to print those worksheets out. The scanner can be useful to get completed worksheets back on your computer. I am considering scanning the things I feel we should keep and keeping electronic files on the girls' work to minimize the storage space needed on the bookshelves as time goes on. If you are needing to purchase a new printer, be sure to compare ink prices as well as hardware prices. A cheap printer that eats expensive ink cartridges isn't going to save you much money. If you use a laptop or multiple computers, you might want to consider a wireless printer so you don't have to be tied to the printer to print. Also pay attention to what options are available. Double side printing/copying is an option I don't have that I often wish I did. I do have the option to print/copy in either color or black and white and in different quality levels. I really like being able to do a high quality color copy when needed, or a low quality black and white for something like a basic worksheet so I can save ink.

6. Poly Folders. I have folders like these that I use all the time. The last two years I've picked them up on clearance after school starts. I like to lay out the full week worth of school work at once and put each day in a different folder. I write everything that needs to be done for the day on one paper (usually the back of worksheet we're done with) and then put in any worksheets needed for the day. Sierra knows she can grab the day's folder and get started on the work she can do independently, which means my morning person daughter can do her work in the morning while her night owl mother is still blearily looking for caffeine. Even though it can make it a little difficult to get papers in at times, I like that these folders have a little crease and can expand because it makes it easy to throw in a pencil, scissors and glue stick if we're going somewhere that day and Sierra's taking her schoolwork with her.

Like I said, these are all things I didn't give much thought to before we started homeschooling, but I would hate to do without now! What about you? Is there something you didn't really think about before you got started that's become indispensable over time?

NOTE: All pictures are from Amazon and all links are affiliate links. No one asked me to write this post or directly compensated me with money or product for the post. I will receive a small compensation if you click one of the links and make a purchase. All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I agree! I love the little white boards. I only have one, but I decided this week I need to get another. We use it for math lessons, some phonics, spelling and Annalise uses them for handwriting practice. I have a plug in pencil sharpener. Each time I use it, I am so happy that I have it. We just got a printer/copier/scanner over Christmas. I love it!


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