Back-to-Homeschool Checklist: 10 Must-haves for Schooling at Home

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Back-to-Homeschool Checklist: 10 Must-haves for Schooling at Home

I was cruising through our local Target earlier this week only to be stopped in my tracks by a back-to-school display. Even with social distancing creating a new school situation for many families, bright displays of school supplies still signal the end of summer and the start of the school year.  

I have great fun looking at what's new and improved in Target's back-to-school goodies every year. And I will admit, I often stay long enough at the display that I ended up tossing a couple products in my cart. But it also gets me thinking about all the new and returning Sonlighters, wondering what their shopping carts will look like this month.

If you've been in public schools up to now, you are used to having the school provide a back-to-school list. But there's no list for homeschoolers. The good news is that you get to choose!

But since many parents prefer to have a starting point for school supplies, I've put together a back-to-school checklist to get you started thinking through what you'll need for the school year. 

1. Sticky Tabs and Notes

Homeschooling or not, life cannot be lived efficiently without a good supply of these gems. Use them as

  • bookmarks
  • to-do lists for students (and spouses)
  • visual reminders of important dates on the family calendar

Did you know you can even use sticky notes to clean up computer keyboards? Just run the sticky edge between the keys to grab all those crumbs and whatever else might be living between the Enter and Shift keys.

And don't even get me started on the endless variety of colors and designs that are available! 

2. Pens, Pencils, and Crayons

Yes, I realize that most students today are doing their school work digitally. But a new school year isn't complete without packages of pens, pencils, and crayons even if it's only for that new school scent they effuse when you open them.

3. Bins, Tins, and Crates

These storage tools fall under the category of holding stuff. Whether you find some of those cute little metal pails to hold pencils and crayons or choose from the vast array of plastic milk crates for holding books and notebooks, you need something to corral all the materials you need when you homeschool. Each student should have one, and be responsible for making sure their supplies find their way home at the end of every school day.

4. Binders and File Folders

These are also stuff holders of a different kind. Record keeping is infinitely easier when you know where to find your students' completed work. Colors and designs are without limit, so let your kids express their creative side when purchasing these.

5. Sticky Stuff

There are all sorts of reasons to need to stick things to other things when you're homeschooling, so having a variety of adhesives and glues is helpful:

  • transparent tape
  • masking tape
  • glue sticks
  • hook and loop fastener
  • adhesive putty

6. Markers, Highlighters, Sharpies

Especially helpful for older students, highlighters are one of the best study tools ever invented. You can never have enough colors, and you really need to check out the gel version. 

7. Index Cards

Like sticky notes, index cards have a similar functionality but with a different look and feel. These, too, come in various sizes and colors. Look for the ones joined with a ring or a spiral binding—perfect for note-taking!

8. Computer Supplies

This category includes all those items you need to make the technology in your house run smoothly. Think ink cartridges and printer paper.

9. Paper

While much of our culture is going paperless, there is still good reason to have a supply on hand. In addition to computer paper, you'll want

  • spiral-bound notebooks
  • composition notebooks
  • packages of 3-hole punched, loose-leaf paper
  • construction paper and cardstock (for crafty projects)

10. Assignment Notebooks/Planners

Whether you have a great digital app, or prefer the hard-copy version, it's particularly helpful to be able to put your eyes on the week's assignments/expectations. Especially if you are teaching multiple children, an outline that's easy to refer to helps manage the busyness of life.

As your students grow older, an assignment tool of their own will help high school homeschoolers more easily make the transition to independent learning.

I'm sure there are many other items that could be added to my list, but these are my top 10 recommendations.

Have fun with this! Make school supply shopping/acquisition part of an annual back-to-school tradition! It's a great way to have a positive start to your school year.

P.S. Of course ... don't forget to order your curriculum, if you haven't already! Here's a Sonlight Shopping List to help.

New to homeschooling? Download this free checklist to make sure you've covered the bases.

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