5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: My "Essentials"

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I started thinking my list of homeschooling essentials during a typical morning in our homeschool.  I wrote down everything I used one homeschooling morning and my list included various things like: books, scissors, a globe, pencils, paper, notebook, masking tape, white board, paintbrush, paint, glue, cotton balls, glitter glue, stickers, card stock, computer, printer, and my iPhone.

While "day to day" items may not be "essential" in the long run, they sure make my day easier!

Considering the practical aspects of homeschooling, some other things I depend on and/or use regularly in my homeschool include:


I need a boxed curriculum that is written and scheduled for me in this season of life.

However, I don't think any one boxed curriculum will ever meet all our needs, so we add and take away as needed.


We live across the street from the library, but I don't use it regularly because I buy most of our books. We have a homeschool library that is filled with quality children's literature and God honoring books.

Plus, it has been beneficial to own our homeschool library:

  • Encouragement: It is encouraging to my children to be able to look back at all the books they have read. I'll never forget our first year of homeschooling when my oldest sat and admired the row of books that he read. He had never read so many on his own before! Our 2nd year of homeschooling, I borrowed many books from the library and he told me that he missed being able to see that shelf of books.

  • Convenience: I have the books I need when I need them. I've often relied on a library book that was available at the beginning of a year, only to find out that it was checked out when I needed it, lost, or even worse, discarded.

Of course, we still use the library on occasion to save money, to offer go-along books, and just for the experience. I also like to use the library to read books to make sure I want them to be a part of our home library. I am relying on a set of autobiographies for Core C this semester because I did not budget for another core this school year and I wasn't sure if I would like them.

A Tote Bag to carry around those books!

I would really love a 31 Bag, but the tote I have came with our curriculum and it works.  I carry it from room to room and keep everything I need for the week in it.


Paper, pencils, scissors, glue, and craft supplies and all that stuff that having on hand makes homeschooling easier.

Science Kits

Having the science kits for the school year means no one can get out of experiments using the "we don't have everything I need" excuse.  And believe me, they do try!


A place for everything and everything in it's place? {Always a work in progress around here.}

Things get a little hard towards the end of the year, and reorganizing feels wonderful.

Buying shiny new school supplies is one of my favorite things to do at the beginning of a new year! I keep caddies or baskets around the house where we need them.

 I love baskets for all sorts of things.

I also love my Desk Apprentice. (I ordered it online from Staples.) Here is a snapshot of my organizing {in progress} for Bo's preschool.

And adding a few square book shelves this year (from Home Depot) has really helped me organize books. I don't know how I managed without them before!  My goal was to simplify and really organize this year so that the house would be easier to clean and they have helped lots.

And be it ever so humble, there's no place like...


You can read our Home {School} Home to see more of the learning areas in our home.

Not that you can't homeschool in other places ~ home is wherever you are.  We once packed up and moved into a 23 foot motorhome and lived in less than 200 square feet. I fit all that we needed to homeschool into one cupboard.  Each child had one basket of clothes and only a few toys. But, we had our curriculum, books, paper, pencils, colored pencils, etc. packed in nicely.  I had to be minimalist in my approach for sure, but I was just as happy.

A Clean House

We are more productive when the house is nice and tidy! As I shared yesterday, I can't do it all, but we do our best. We often do "10-minute tidies" throughout the day and take about an hour a day to cook dinner and clean up the house before my husband comes home from work.  It's the days that I have had a hard day, am tired and plain worn out, he is working late, and have lost the battle on the house that was clean at 5pm (when he asked it to be clean by) and is now a mess at 8pm, that I most need his understanding.

Dry erase board

My current board is a $20 board from Costco, but for years we had a DIY homemade whiteboard made from Thrifty White Panel Board (found at Home Depot), thanks to my husband's suggestion.  In our old house it covered a dining room wall, but we cut it down and framed it when we moved into our house now.

Computer, High Speed Internet, Printer + Laminator

I use my computer to research curriculum, read reviews, purchase curriculum, for enrichment inspiration and ideas, printables, and much more. Sadly, my printer stopped working for me last week and I'm missing it. I use my laminator regularly, but not as much as I used to. I laminate flash cards and things that I am most likely to use again, but I don't laminate everything like I used to and I use plastic sheet protectors more and more. (I slip papers into the sheet protector and use a wet erase marker (Vis-a-Vis).

iPhone + iTunes + App Store

Having an iPhone has been a blessing. I use it for almost everything.
"You use your phone to do all the things our Moms did with paper and pens, stamps, recipe files, checkbooks, clocks, timers, typewriters, fax machines, calculators, calendars, phones with cords, newspapers, books, thermostats, televisions, radios, and cameras." ~ Fried Okra in her post "Dear Mom on the iPhone, I Get It." 

Amazing, isn't it? I'd add personal consultant and assistant (Siri) to that list.

I use iTunes to import CDs that I use in my homeschool,  like Story of the World and Mystery of History, and even nursery rhymes for preschool. I can take our school anywhere this way. I plug my phone into to my car stereo and we do a lot of car schooling on road trips. Or I simply play my phone in my living room while we dance around the room or snuggle up to listen.

And I use the App Store frequently for personal and educational apps.

My personal favorite is the YouVersion Bible app. I use it for Bible readings with the kids and for my personal Bible reading and listening. {It's free!}

Can I sneak Amazon in right here?! (Aff link) :D I have Amazon Prime and I love and regularly use the free 2 day shipping for my homeschool. I also use regularly use Amazon Instant Video when I need a little downtime. And I am continually impressed by their customer service.

A blog

hehe! My blog is a planner, a way to document our homeschool, and a place to record memories. It is also a motivational and an accountability tool.

Plenty of Sleep, Breaks + A Slow and Steady Pace

These are all necessary to prevent burnout. I am at my best when I go to sleep by 10pm and get up at 6am. I think it is important to get at least 2 hours of sleep before midnight. It's not fair to my family if I burn the midnight oil night after night and can't give them {and God!} my best.

Along with a weekly Sabbath rest, I take daily and seasonal rests. I'm considering Sabbath schooling with my little ones, where we school for 6 weeks and take the 7th week off throughout the school year and take an additional several weeks off in the summer and fall.

And a slow and steady pace wins the race, right?


Would you believe that 99% of the support I receive outside our home comes from the blogging community? If you are reading my blog, that' you!

Money +  Sacrifice

When Luke and I were newly married, we were approached by a local private Christian school wanting us to enroll our boys. When we told them we couldn't afford the tuition, they suggested we sell our house. Really?  But, a year after we started homeschooling, we were called to do just that. We sold our house and paid off all of our debt and this has enabled us to afford it.  (This was a far cry from what we had planned! I was making $25 an hour out of college and my income was going to pay for money we borrowed for the remodel and new triple car garage.)

I know how hard it is to live on a single family income. With our family size, we have lived at "poverty" level almost our entire homeschooling lives because we chose to homeschool. We make many sacrifices so that we can continue to afford it. Last year, we had to cut grocery expenses to afford our curriculum and each month, for several months, I took several hundred dollars out of our food and household budget to buy curriculum. It's common around here now when we  have extra expenses to warn everyone that "we'll be eating beans for a couple weeks."  Which leads me to my next essential....

Good Food

Good food boosts moral, keeps us energized and healthy, helps us be creative in our learning, and in the case of my little Bo, is helping him overcome childhood apraxia of speech.

The Y

The Y is an essential part of our homeschool in many ways. My children participate in sports and chess club, volunteer, coach, ref, and work there. Even Malachi my 8 year old volunteers and coaches Itty Bitty Soccer.

Let's not forget the intangible things that I think are essential:

Patience, love, desire, conviction, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, structure, rhythm, flexibility, responsibility, compliance with state laws, fortitude, understanding, time, my children's needs, help, a surrendered life to God, a relationship with Jesus, and lots and lots of prayer!

There's really so much  more I wanted to say and do with this post, but I had a busy day yesterday and didn't get a chance to work on it as much as I wanted to. I was up late working on birthday preparations for my daughter's 7th birthday today, and then my site was down when I came on to finish this post last night. And I don't have time to work on it anymore. So, I will have to embrace imperfection and publish this baby so I can go frost a giant cupcake!

Thank you for reading along with me this week! I'll see you tomorrow with an essential that is near and dear to my heart!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:
Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy.


  1. So much for imperfection! This was a beautiful post. Thank you for really thinking and pulling in all those pieces that make our homeschools whole!

  2. very nice post! You are infinitely more organized I am! I second Melanie's comments above.

  3. I love how beautifully you share your heart. Homeschooling is so much more than just a curriculum, and you share that so well!

  4. Loved this post! So many great ideas....and really nice pictures too!

  5. Loved this post! The fact that you talked frankly about sacrifice and messy houses - you kept it real! Thank you for that!

  6. What a fantastic post! So much goes into running a homeschool, and you shared the heart of yours!

  7. I loved this Michelle! This has been an honest to goodness post about homeschooling, family life and making it work despite all the challenges. You have always been an inspiration. cheers!

  8. Thanks, Heather! Of course, we have to continually REorganize ~ does it ever stay that way?! :)

  9. Thanks, Abby! So encouraging to hear that from you. ♥

  10. You're welcome, Lisa! :) Thanks for hopping by!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing all this! I really enjoyed the photos -- especially the Sonlight stuff, but I'm biased [smile]. The pegboard for consumables is fantastic! Such a good idea.


  12. I aspire to be like you Michelle ;) I admire you so much, having 6 kids and being this organized!! I want my littles to stay little but I'm so looking forward to homeschooling them where there is true interaction :)

  13. What a wonderful post! I hope someday to achieve the organization you have... you are an inspiration, thank you for such a honest post.

  14. Aw, Amy! ♥ Thank you! Don't worry, that time will come sooner than you know it. too soon!

  15. haha, of course you are, Luke. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Your Sabbath schooling has been giving me lots to think about and ponder. What do you think your Sabbath weeks will look like?

  17. I'm still trying to figure out what my weeks would look like... I started a post to share and then decided I wanted to row a book. Originally, I was thinking LHTH weeks 1-4, 5th LHTH Review week, 6th rowing week, 7th week off. But we are on letter B (week 2) and I want to row a book for week 3. (So maybe be flexible in my rowing week?) 6th would be my review week, take 7th off? I hope to have it figured out soon!