You, like so many other parents, are now figuring out the basics of online home schooling. You're probably wondering what are the essentials that you'll need in order to keep your kid going until schools open back up.
Here are 20 must-have products to help you (and your new students) home schooling successfully!
- Daily Schedule
- Organizational Pocket Chart
- Mini Whiteboard
- Expo Markers
- Coloring Supplies
- Pencil Sharpener
- Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- Digital Device
- Computer Mouse
- A Comfortable, Flexible Work Space
- Healthy Snacks
- A Library Card
- Outdoor Play Time Equipment
- Sticky Notes
- Water Bottles
- Music Streaming Service
1. Daily Schedule
It might be helpful for you and your children to have a visible daily schedule posted somewhere. Knowing what's planned for the day will make everyone feel better! Here's a great Erasable Schedule you can put on your fridge!
Your child and teach likely use this daily in the classroom, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, your child can help you! Use it to organize lesson planning by day of the week, topic, or even time of the day. This will come in handy for you as a parent to get ahead in their lesson planning, and this one even hangs over a door making it easy to setup. Get it here!
3. Mini Whiteboard
Your child is probably used to these handy tools from school, so why not bring a little normalcy to your home school environment? Mini whiteboards are great alternative to using paper and pencil for a few reasons. First, you'll get way more life out of your whiteboard than a notebook! Just erase and start again. Second, writing on whiteboards require less tension and stress on your hands. This means your home schooler will be able to write longer with a whiteboard marker than with a pen or pencil. Hooray for productivity! Get one here!
4. Expo Markers
If you're going to go the whiteboard route, you'll need the best whiteboard markers to go with them. Take it from a teacher, you don't want to go off-brand with your child's whiteboard markers. No home school should go without the best of the best, Expo Markers! These are the longest lasting, cleanest writing markers on the market, trust me! Get some here!
Bonus tip: When your markers start to dry out, store them tip down. This will help the remaining ink travel down, extending the life of your marker and saving you some money!
5. Coloring Supplies
Believe it or not, art supplies should be a must on any home school parent's list. The opportunities for art being integrated into your lesson plans are endless! Journaling, drawing, creating posters or designing projects to show their learning...these are just some of the ways that you can bring the creativity and therapy of art into your child's home schooling experience.
6. Pencil Sharpener
Whether you're going with mechanical pencils or not, you're probably going to need a pencil sharpener at some point or another. It's one of those little items that you don't realize you need until you're deciding if you can whittle the end down safely with a butter knife or not. Please, spare yourself the agony and buy a personal pencil sharpener. You can buy a fancy electric version. or a simple manual version.
Even if you choose to get a mini whiteboard for your home schooler, you'll probably find that you'll need a pencil or two along the way. If you ordered that pencil sharpener I mentioned earlier, you can use it with the Cadillac of pencils, Ticonderogas! Teacher tested, approved, and sworn by! These babies will write so smooth and clean, with minimal smearing for you lefties.
Chances are your student will be doing most of their work online, but it never hurts to have paper lying around for those times when they just want to write something down to keep for later. Get a 6 pack of college ruled notebooks here. They come in different colors so you and your child can organize and customize based on the subject. What fun!
9. Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Home schooling today probably means a lot of screen time for you and your kids. Most of us know by now that blue light exposure can lead to headaches, eye strain, and sleepless nights. Help fight that by getting blue light blocking glasses. There are a wide variety of styles available online, but here are some basic frames to check out.
10. Digital Device
If you don't already have a way to access your child's digital curriculum, you might want to start looking. There are lots of fantastic options, but it depends on what you're looking for. I'm partial to Chromebooks because my students use Google Classroom for their assignments. If your student uses Google Classroom (or docs, slides, forms, or any other Google-based program), I'd highly recommend this Chromebook from HP. It's incredibly easy to set up. I guarantee that within minutes of opening the package you'll be ready to get your online learning on!
11. Computer Mouse
If your child is using a computer to access their curriculum, they may get sick and tired of using the track pad on their laptop or Chromebook to maneuver their cursor around. Give their little hands a break with a slick little Computer Mouse! The dongle plugs into your computer's USB port and is ready to go wirelessly!
12. A Comfortable, Flexible Work Space
Now, it may seem silly to have this on the list of must-haves for home schooling, but hear me out. Your child is probably not used to sitting in one spot all day, or even for a few hours at a time. We know that most adults are now switching to flexible seating for their own office work spaces. Yoga balls, wobble stools, and standing desks are just some of the options we're seeing in the modern office and classroom. If your child is a wiggler, consider a yoga ball chair or wobble stool for their home school chair.
If they like to stand while they work, consider this standing desk that changes a regular work space into a standing work space.
13. Healthy Snacks
Being at home more often can sometimes lead to excess snacking. Help combat poor snack choices by providing healthy options for your breaks. Some of my favorite healthy snacks are Bare snacks. Their baked apple chips are the perfect mix of crunchy and sweet.
If you're looking for a savory snack, grab these individual peanut packs from Planters!
14. A Library Card
If you’re looking for great additional free resources for your home schooler to read or view, check out your local library! Even if your library is closed, many offer online services that you can access 24/7. Ebooks, online magazines, audiobooks, and online newspapers are just some examples, not to mention the programs libraries offer when they are open! Did I mention these are usually FREE? Libraries are the best!
15. Outdoor Play Time Equipment
In a public or private school setting, spending time outside playing is an extremely important part of the school day. The same should be true of a home school environment. Kids need time to leave school inside, run off some energy, and take in some fresh air! Of course, you don't need equipment to play outside (in fact, imaginative play is not only cheaper, but there are lots of benefits for your child's mental and emotional health, too!), but it helps for those days when your kids need a little direction in their play. Check out this set of stepping stones that can be used to build coordination, balance, and fun! Or this pogo stick alternative!
16. Sticky Notes
Great for writing down quick notes, reminders, or even just a good old fashioned doodle, you'll want to keep some sticky notes on hand!
17. Water Bottles
It's important to keep hydrated while learning, and one way to encourage your child to drink more water is by giving them their own water bottle to refill throughout the day. There are tons of styles to choose from, and you may even be able to make this process more exciting by letting them pick out stickers to decorate theirs with. Here's a great basic water bottle I'd recommend!
18. Music Streaming Service
Wanting to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere for learning? Or use music to dance out some of those wiggles? Consider subscribing to a music streaming service such as Spotify or YouTube Music. You can create custom playlists, avoid those annoying ads, and make your home school a more engaging place to learn!
No matter what your reason for home schooling, be it a global pandemic or parental choice, reflecting on the learning process is important. Encourage your child to keep a journal of their experience in the home school environment. Have them reflect on what they learned, their goals, what's happening in the world, and what they like and dislike at the moment. They'll thank you when they're older and have something to look back on. If you're looking for something a little more structured to start, check out this journal for mindfulness and positive thinking.
This last one may not be a product, but it's probably the most important must-have for home schooling. Each day will bring new challenges and successes, and they may look completely different than the day before.
Don't be afraid to mix things up or abandon the schedule on those days when you and your kids both desperately need to mix it up. Go outside for longer than expected on those gorgeous days. Curl up with a movie on those rainy ones. Life doesn't always go by the schedule, but that doesn't mean that learning can't happen when you go off script.