Homeschooling has become a popular alternative to traditional schooling for many families, and it is a good one for parents who are skilled at learning and teaching, as well as organizing and carrying through on what needs to be done for their children’s academic activities.
What is needed if you’re new to homeschooling? There are some variables that will determine what you will need to gather to begin.
* You’ll have to determine what can be budgeted for this endeavor. If the budget is of the “shoestring” variety, you will need to be realistic and start small. If you are a little better prepared financially, you’ll be able to choose more supplies of better quality. So the budget for homeschooling and the number of children you will be teaching will be the first consideration.
* Age range of your children will be another factor. If your kids range from Kindergarten through 12th grade, you will be buying more varied supplies. You may be buying coloring books and crayons, and also need advanced science and math supplies. For music classes, you may need to invest in a tambourine, drum, and triangle or bells for the youngest children, as well as flutes, violins, and drums for older children’s music lessons outside the homeschooling environment. Fortunately, the Internet has many, many resources for getting hold of all of these things. Musical instruments may also be gifts donated by a musician or former band member, borrowed from other parents, found at sales, or rented at music stores.
* Are you part of a homeschooling association? If you are, you may be able to share supplies. This will limit what has to be purchased or rented. If you have access to school supplies from any other source, some of the basics can be had at little to no cost.
* Supplies needed for specific classes will be necessary, but these do not have to be obtained until they are needed. For example, those items needed for math, English, history, science, social studies and other core classes will depend on when the class will begin, so obviously, you will not need everything on the very first day of school. You can get just the basics to start and other supplies as they are needed.
Other considerations for homeschooling involve the setting. Your child or children will need an appropriate area that is quiet and conducive to learning. New homes may be built with an area specifically for homeschooling if parents know in advance that they will be homeschooling when the time comes. This, of course, would be the ideal setting. Also quite sufficient in an older home is a place specifically devoted to schooling. It should be out of the way of normal household traffic so that distractions are minimal.
Small used desks can be found at sales, purchased elsewhere, or easily built (especially for young children.) Seats or chairs should be comfortable so that students aren’t distracted by the seating, and can be moved easily. Long tables and regular chairs can be used if children are close together in age. Much of what older children are learning can “rub off” on younger children, giving them the advantage of a head start on learning.
Some other necessary supplies will include lesson plans for the grades you’re teaching, textbooks and other resources. A supply of notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, loose-leaf notebooks and filler paper, highlighters, and the small supplies such as paper clips, correction tape, rulers, stapler, and the plethora of traditional classroom supplies can be purchased at dollar stores, or if the budget allows, school supply stores. Other supplies may include calculators, mobile devices for slightly older children, dictionaries, a thesaurus, a large chalk board and chalk, or white board and erasable markers, a traditional world globe or other large maps, and a variety of other things you will remember once you get started. Again, what you will need will depend on the ages and grade levels of your children, and on the classes they will be taking.
Tips for obtaining your school supplies for homeschooling may include the following:
1. Materials for young children’s basic math may not be necessary since you most likely have sets of measuring cups handy, or sets of many other things that will help young children with early, basic math concepts.
2. Careful planning helps you stick to that budget we mentioned above. Review the materials/curriculum for the upcoming year and determine what you will really need. You can shop online for lesson resources by grade level, from Preschool through Grade 12 and beyond. (See Learningthings.com)
3. Get the kids involved with the planning and shopping for school supplies. Since the object of learning is to apply learned skills to everyday use, much of the work involved in preparations for homeschooling will help with the application of critical thinking and logic, not to mention the math involved for slightly older children when it comes to working within the budget.
4. Shop in increments. You do not need everything for every subject all at once. Your tendency to buy in bulk may mean that a portion of your supply is not going to be used, so you will not realize the savings you had anticipated and may have wasted money. If you overbuy, share with other home-schoolers.
5. When it comes to the major equipment that will be necessary in a home school setting, there will be a need for computers, a printer, a copier, perhaps a fax machine, a web cam for interactive activities, a small-scale but efficient interactive whiteboard may be possible, mobile devices if they will be part of the learning method, and other expensive items. Many of these things can be rented or borrowed, and good used equipment is always a possibility.
6. Some books you need may be available from the public library and can be checked out repeatedly until the need for them is finished. Computers can be used there, as well, but it is much better to have these available at home if you want to stay on schedule with your teaching plan without unplanned trips to the library.
Homeschooling may be the best approach to learning for you and for your family, but it can be overwhelming at the start as you attempt to organize and set up your classroom environment. Some parents have been successful at homeschooling with several children living in a mobile home. Others have given up after having the best of intentions, learning environments, and obtaining all the supplies.
Much of the success of homeschooling comes with the attitude of parents and children about the importance of getting a good education, interaction with other homeschooling families, and goals for the future. You do not need to overbuy on supplies or run yourself deeply into debt in order to provide a good education for your children. Be as resourceful as you can.