What are the things that we couldn’t homeschool without? Top-notch curriculum? A schoolroom? Maybe high-quality school supplies or creative storage options? You may be surprised to learn that our homeschool could carry on without all of these things, although they are reasonable guesses.
Our homeschool now looks quite different from the homeschool we had when we started. Our needs have changed with us throughout our journey and, because of that, there are very few tangible things that make our must-have list.
Needs and wants aren’t always the same.
There is no specific list of must have curricula, books, supplies, or other resources for us because:
1. The budget calls the shots.
Sometimes our budget dictates what we can and can’t live without. We’ve done without lots of things during our homeschool journey; sometimes by choice and sometimes through necessity.
From costly curriculum to specific resources, we’ve done without and survived. We found ways to homeschool well, even when money was tight. One way involved my used copy of Rebecca Rupp’s Home Learning Year by Year.
It gave me direction when searching for online resources and library books to keep us on track even when our budget didn’t allow purchases from my wish list. In other words, we haven’t always had the option to get attached to specific resources.
2. Ignorance is bliss
We homeschooled our first couple of years with little knowledge of the limitless curriculum options available. When we started, the online homeschool community was much smaller and I didn’t know any homeschoolers personally. There was only so much information I could scrounge up myself and there was no one around to provide suggestions.
We homeschooled without some incredible resources because I simply didn’t know they existed! I would’ve made different curriculum choices had I known what all was available at the time, but something good came from my not-knowing. I learned that top-notch curriculum is great, but you can homeschool without it. We’re proof of that!
3. Homeschooling is a work in progress
It took time to find that our preferred homeschool methods vary from child to child for us; we’ve finally locked in on Charlotte Mason-ish homeschooling for one and Charlotte Mason homeschooling for the other. This CM, literature-rich emphasis means there are no specific resources that are the end-all, be-all of our homeschool journey.
Before we transitioned to CM homeschooling, we used resources written for different homeschooling styles in every subject, but we often adjusted them to meet the style and philosophy that best met my kids’ needs. Because of that, all of the resources we use are equally valuable in our homeschool.
What we couldn’t homeschool without
1. Internet access
God bless the homeschool pioneers who did this before the internet. I can’t even fathom homeschooling without internet access. It’s my first stop for research, purchasing materials, community, and so much more.
It’s also helpful for accessing e-books, supplemental resources, and last-minute replacements when the original game-plan isn’t working as we hoped. Needless to say, I’m extremely dependent on internet access when it comes to homeschooling.
2. Planning Tools
I’m a planner by nature and I know that I couldn’t homeschooling without planning. I’ve known families who homeschool without planning and I still don’t understand how they make it work! It makes my brain hurt.
Planning helps me know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. I’ve used lots of planners over the years, but my favorite is Homeschool Planet’s Online Planner.
I use it to plan our homeschool subject by subject, child by child and keep up with household happenings at the same time. Planning for our home and homeschool together is a huge sanity saver for me!
While I use my planner to map out the framework for the upcoming year, I only plan our day to day homeschool a few weeks at a time. I used to plan six months at a time, but that led to frustration when life adjusted our schedule. Marked-up pages drive me nuts and plenty of scratch-outs and write-overs happen when you plan too far in advance.
I’ve even learned the value of planning a few open days once a month. That allows catch up time if we get behind somewhere, extra preparation time for me, or even a blessed free day if everything is on track. Planning this way makes our homeschool world go round!
3. Library cards
Along with lots of other homeschool families, we do some serious reading in our home. Not only do we have a try it before you buy it motto, there are simply some books we only need for a week or two. That’s where our library comes to the rescue.
Library cards allow us to discover new books, borrow what we need, and purchase when we choose to do so. We buy our fair share of books, but we give them a test run first. That keeps us from spending unnecessarily and from cluttering our schoolroom.
4. Time for Me
We’re together All. Day. Long. We love each other – that’s for sure – but we still need some time alone every day. Our goal each day is to finish school by lunchtime. That allows plenty of time for downtime through play, free reading, hobbies, and crafts each afternoon.
Downtime is important for me, too! On some days, Hubby’s able to give me an hour to myself after he’s home from work. On others, twenty minutes here or there may be all I can squeeze out. My “me” time usually comes in the form of a chapter or two in whatever book I’m reading and/or a bubble bath when I can manage it. Even the smallest amounts of “me” time make a big difference in my temperament, and in turn, everyone else’s!
5. Bloggers and publishers
I’m beyond grateful for the countless bloggers and publishers who share teaching ideas, free resources, and encouragement with the homeschooling community. These people are the reason homeschool is possible for many families, especially those with a limited budget.
Time and time again, I’ve turned to other homeschool bloggers for printables, ideas to enhance what we’ve learned, reading suggestions, curriculum reviews, and so much more. I’ve turned to homeschool publishers for product samples, placement tests, and free items to use as needed.
When I say that we couldn’t homeschool without the generosity of these bloggers and publishers, I’m completely serious. Once again, there have been times in our homeschool where they were the ones making it possible for us despite any budget limitations. No kidding, these are my people!
And there you have them: internet access, planning, libraries, “me time,” and bloggers and publishers. Those are the things we couldn’t homeschool without. If we were looking at things that make homeschooling easier or that we love using, that would be a different story. But enough about me, it’s your turn now: what your must-haves are for homeschooling?
Looking for more must-haves? Stop by iHomeschool Network and see what other homeschool families couldn’t live without.