Is a designated homeschool space necessary for you to home educate your children? Absolutely not!
One of the biggest mistakes a new homeschooling family can make is being stressed about their homeschool space--either feeling like they need to clear a whole room for all the "school stuff" or running out and spending massive amount of money on setting up a classroom in their home.
So forget all of the pinterest shopping lists and beautiful images you've probably drooled over (or maybe that's just me). Here are the truly essential things you need to homeschool:
My Ultimate Homeschool Supply List: An Honest Top 10 Essentials
1. A Book Shelf or Storage: When you homeschool, you will automatically have more books in your home. It's a given. So you need some kind of storage for your materials. This doesn't have to be fancy or expensive!
When we were first homeschooling, I cleared out one kitchen cabinet and used that to store our supplies. I know friends who have used an old dresser, a bookshelf bought at a garage sale or one of those rolling carts.
Even having totes or baskets set up somewhere can be enough. But, without a designated space or shelf for everything, materials and books tend to wander off! Think creatively and practically about what you want this to look like, but take your time. Your storage needs and the ways you use your materials storage will likely change over time and you'll have a better picture of what you need once you've been homeschooling awhile!
2. Comfortable Seating: One of the greatest delights of homeschooling is having the comforts of home! You want none of those uncomfortable desks you have to sit in for 7 hours a day at school.
Instead, make sure you have comfortable spaces throughout your house to read and snuggle up--couches, reading nooks, alternative table seating, etc. Most families find that they do the majority of their schooling in this kind of space rather than a table.
3. A Library Card: There are so many resources you can find at your library! Even if your local library isn't up to your standards, having a library card is important. It gives you access to resources online too, including documentaries and audiobooks.
Please check with any universities or colleges you have nearby as well. Many allow community members to purchase a library card to gain access to their catalog and it is usually significantly more extensive than just your local library.
4. Internet Access: Could you homeschool without the internet? Absolutely. But, do you want to? I wouldn't! The internet has given us access to so many incredible books, resources and community opportunities that I consider it is essential for homeschooling.
5. Printer Access: You don't have to own a printer to have access to one. But you will need to print some things, so owning one might be the most helpful! Otherwise, you can print at your library or local print shop.
There are some curricula that require more printing than others, so be mindful of this when planning--if printing a lot is something you want to do or not.
6. School Supplies: I'm talking basics--pen, pencils, scissors, stapler, lots of kinds of paper, glue and a ruler. You don't need to rush out and buy all the pencil pouches, sticky notes, notecards, etc. kind of supplies, but make sure you're well stocked with the basics. Only buy the extra stuff if you actually find you need it. (And you don't need a laminator. I'm just putting that out there.)
7. Art Supplies: Again, you only need the basics. Having construction paper, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor or basic acrylic paints and paper, and makers is honestly enough. I have found that if I spend a little more on high quality art supplies they last a lot longer! I have Stockmar block crayons that we bought 5 years ago that we still use all the time.
8. Globe or Map: We use our globe and map a lot more than I thought we would. I bought them originally just for decor, but I've been surprised to find how much we use them throughout our readings and discussion. Make sure when you're buying them that they are accurate!
Many decor style maps are not accurate and therefore defeat the purpose of having one. You don't need a huge map that covers a whole wall though. Even having a small booklet with accurately labeled maps is enough!
9. Bluetooth Speaker: Maybe everyone won't find that this is essential for them, but in our house it is! We listen to a lot of audiobooks, radio programs (such as Adventure in Odyssey), podcasts and music, so our bluetooth speaker gets a lot of use. Our favorite is our Yoto player (which is so much more than just a speaker) but any speaker, even an inexpensive shower speaker, will work great!
10. Planner/Schedule: Even if your curriculum comes with lesson plans, you need a planner of some sort. This could be a wall calendar, a bound planner book, an excel spreadsheet or an online system, but keeping all of the plates in the air (appointments, lesson plans, family activities, meeting, etc.) can be a challenge. Find a system that works well for you and use it!
-Quality Outdoor Gear: Invested in quality outdoor gear lets us get outside on even hot or cold days!
-Book Stand: We use our book stand especially for notebooking and watercoloring.
-Art Display: My kids absolutely love displaying their art and I love being able to display our prints from our artist study.
-Math Manipulatives: We have used many different things for this, buttons, acorns, rocks, and blocks, etc. It doesn't really matter what you use but especially for the youngest ages, it is helpful to have something for math!
-Chalkboard: Either a wall chalkboard or personal chalkboards. We've gotten a ton of use from ours! (A whiteboard works great too, I just don't prefer them!)
-Laptop: This is self-explanatory, but I use my laptop for all kinds of things. My kids don't have or need one at their ages, but we may incorporate this in later years
-Laminator: Again, you don't need a laminator. But it is nice to have. I use mine primarily for laminating materials I want to use over and over, or for anything I want to write on with a dry erase marker.
-Nature Display: We use a corner or our house to display all of the nature finds we discover when we're out. I love having this little corner because it reminds us of all the places we've been to together and I love looking at the natural elements when we're snowbound in the dead of winter!
-Amazon Prime Subscription: I hate paying for shipping for books and school supplies and I've found that our Amazon subscription pays for itself every year with all of the things we order! It's also where we watch some of our favorite tv shows (like Tumbleleaf) so it's been a must have for us.
-A Local Co-Op or Homeschool Community: Community with other kids and (hopefully) other homeschool families is a must! If it's scouts, sports, church, clubs or a co-op, it's important and though you could homeschool without it, I wouldn't recommend it!
This is my honest take, but I hope you feel the freedom to make homeschooling fit your family and to not feel burdened by someone's shopping list. Happy Homeschooling!