What are the most popular, “essential” homeschool supplies you’ll need for successfully educating your children?
Some social media accounts and bloggers make it seem like you need a huge budget and need to revamp your entire living space, but nothing could be further from the truth! As one wise homeschool veteran wrote on Facebook:
“Ask 100 homeschool moms this question and you’ll get 100 answers. My experience is the longer a mom has homeschooled, the more likely she is to tell you that you need very little. It’s kinda like all the baby gear first time moms think they need.”
However, we think this helpful list of recommended homeschool supplies should come in handy for future reference!
Most ‘essential’ homeschool supplies
- Curriculum. While almost every homeschool uses some type(s) of curriculum as a tool for learning, the cost and type of curriculum varies drastically across families. See our blog post about 5 things to consider about curriculum to find the best option for your family’s needs.
- Basic school supplies. Pencils are essential for homeschools the world over, but not all pencils are created equal! Many mothers recommend the Ticonderoga No. 2 brand because, as one mother says, “They are the greatest pencils!” Other basics to consider include pencil sharpeners, white polymer erasers (since they erase more cleanly than pencil erasers), index cards, clear plastic sleeves, and notebook paper. Additionally, think about investing in a mega 3-hole punch to keep records in 3-ring binders for each student.
- Library card (and consider a heavy-duty canvas bag for library books!). Libraries often have educator deals and discounts that apply to homeschool families. For example, the Johnson County Library has an “Educator Outreach Card” that allows you an extended 5-week checkout of materials, no overdue fees, and up to 5 times renewing materials. (See more information in this blog post about managing library fines.)
As one mom wrote, “You really don’t need much. A comfy place to snuggle up and read together, a flat surface to sit and write at, and a place to store your materials is really sufficient.”
More ‘nice-to-have’ supplies, one-time purchases
While some homeschool moms may classify the following as essential, others consider them bonuses and several skip them entirely. That’s why we’ve filed these under the “nice-to-have” category. If they work for you, great. If not, that’s fine too!
- Laminator. “The only purchase I have made that I thought, wow this has made a difference, is a laminator,” one mom writes. “I got it for $32 on Amazon. I have kids that I am working with that need practice sheets for a variety of topics. I laminate it and give them an expo marker so they can reuse it.” On the other hand, another mom has decided it’s better to use laminators on an as-needed basis. “I have a friend & borrow hers 4x a year for a few items that pop up,” she writes. “We use the page protectors for letter size paper instead of laminating often.”
- Printer. Several moms found printers to help in their homeschool. One mom even recommends getting two printers. One is an inexpensive black-only laser printer, which she uses for math worksheets and “massive print jobs.” She keeps another photo-quality printer “for any time you need color.” In addition, she keeps cardstock on hand for printing materials that get a lot of hands-on use.
- Storage space. This can include portable items such as a rolling cart or small bookcase. One mom bought a 4-foot folding table from Lowe’s to set up in the living room for lessons. Another mom uses a charts binder to keep her walls clean. The binder includes a hundreds chart, line chart, letter chart for cursive and print, etc. Because the charts are in page protectors, her children can use them with dry erase markers. “Visual clutter stresses me out!” she writes.
- Zoo and other memberships. If you visit certain places regularly throughout the year, it may work out cheaper to buy a membership there. This can help large families who don’t want to be charged per person for every trip. The Kansas City Zoo features several membership options, along with Union Station memberships that allow free visits to Science City.
More ‘nice-to-have’ supplies around the house
- White board. “We love our white board,” one mom writes. “When the kids lose focus, they enjoy doing work on the board. We also use All about spelling curriculum so it doubles as the magnetic tile board. … We keep a 1 1/2 three ring binder that i print our lesson plans on, and put them in a protective cover. Then we keep the work books for samples.”
- Math manipulatives. For children who like to keep their hands busy, consider a fidget toy like this “100 Bubbles” board game or KUTOI Snap Unit Cubes to build mathematical masterpieces. They don’t have to be anything you spend money on, though. One frugal mom uses Cheerios, candy, beads, and more for her children’s math manipulatives.
- Abacus for elementary years. “A grandparent bought us a Melissa & Doug abacus and it has been very handy for early math,” one mom writes. “It’s one thing I would consider splurging on (and by splurge I mean it was less than $15).”
- Craft supplies and art cabinets. Do you make a lot of hands-on crafts in your homeschool? In that case, many moms recommend an art cabinet to store such supplies. These could include noodles, beans, pipe cleaners, pom poms, tissue and construction paper, glue, and popsicle sticks. Additionally, consider storing colored pencils, crayons and markers here.
- Globe, handbook of nature, and dictionary. These homeschool supplies can help develop research skills and offer continuous learning delights! As one mom writes, “You’d be surprised how many houses don’t have a dictionary anymore. … Most children are growing up not knowing how to look up a definition of a word without using a computer or Alexa.”
One mom writes, “The reality of homeschooling is that you NEED very little. Use what you already have. For example, rather than buying math manipulates, use Legos or Duplo blocks. Rather than buying specific reading books, use the books you already have for learning to read. As you get into the groove, you’ll figure out what works for you. For example, growing up my mom had a specific room that we did school in vs letting us do it where ever. I personally don’t have the space for that nor the desire to be limited, so a caddy or crate with basic supplies that is portable would be important to me. A desk and chair isn’t necessary in my opinion if you have a kitchen table or lap tables.”
Ongoing homeschool supplies all free through MPE!
- A list of field trip ideas. In addition, consider packing snacks, journals, and pencils to make the trip more fun. “We play, interact, learn, and then we can sit, eat snacks, and journal about what they learned,” one mom writes. She also keeps backpacks on hand to take to appointments throughout the school day.
- Mentoring moms. Throughout the year, remember our amazing volunteers in our Mentoring Moms program! They stand ready to give you customized, confidential advice and support for any challenges you encounter in your homeschool journey. Join our MPE Sisterhood Facebook group for year-round support. Meanwhile, look for the mentoring moms booth at our homeschool conference and curriculum fair!
- A community of like-minded homeschoolers. Make it a priority to attend our special events just for homeschool families. These include Great Wolf Lodge Homeschool Weeks, Used Curriculum Sale, Homeschool Day at the K, Women’s Encouragement Day, and more! You can also use these events to swap ideas and notes, receive encouragement, and grow in fellowship.
Liked this post of homeschool supplies? Check out our list of 23 homeschool resources “we can’t live without.”