What stuff do you need to be a home educator?

I thought I would put together a list of must haves for any Home Educating family.

John Taylor Gatto has famously said that a good education doesn’t cost anything. Well, it does cost something. I am assuming he is using hyperbole to say that the shocking amount of money poured into state education doesn’t produce educated people, whereas tightly budgeting homeschooling homes are producing extremely well educated, independent learners.  But it isn’t free and so those of you heading off on the home education adventure will need a tool kit.

This is mine>

A computer and good printer. If at all possible find a printer that doesn’t drink ink like an untreated diabetic. This is a major challenge for me. I bought a cheap printer because that’s the money  I had, but it has proved to be a serious “buy now, pay later” object as it gets through a set of ink once a month! If, like me, you are educating lots of children and your printer gets heavy use and you happen to have the money, I have been told that laser printers are best. However, looking into them, I have found they are very expensive and very big. So, talk it over with people who know and decide how to do this.

Computers are essential to HE it seems to me. They offer access to a whole internet of excellent quality free resources, books, audio, lesson plans, curriculum, you name it – it’s out there and more often than not it’s free. Some of the pay for it stuff is very cheap compared to other methods of doing it. So for example I am paying for More.Starfall because it’s cheap and very useful for all three younger children (even though it’s focus is pre-school to kindergarten). Starfall itself is free. I am also paying for the Children’s Musical Adventure keyboard lessons, which works out very cheap indeed for all three little ones to get lessons every day.

My next must have is a laminator. I use ours a lot for flash cards, mobiles, art projects, place mats, anything you want to keep in good condition for repetitive use. Pockets for the machine can be cheap if you shop around.

Wipe down tablecloth for all those craft things you’ll get up to.

Empty margarine tubs: no home ed mother throws away tubs with lids. They are just right for movable letters, flash cards, glue sticks, fraction blocks, bits of wool,….and so on. Those large round chocolate or biscuit tins. They are good as cake storage for the bakers in the family, but also for larger amounts of manipulatives, flash cards, attribute shapes, blocks and so on. Also there is the excellent extra bit of loveliness that you get to eat the chocolates first. Many people underestimate the essential role that chocolate plays in the lives of home educating mothers.

Essential furniture include a considerable number of bookcases and a large cupboard for all that craft stuff you will be stocking.

You will need an endless supply of glue, paint, pens, paper, salt and flour for salt dough. You will also need scissors, paint brushes, glitter, – well you get the idea.

Transport – This is an area we have some problems with, but we occasionally use a taxi to get us all and the wheelchair somewhere we really need to be.

Most HE mums tells me their highest HE bill is fuel as they drive quite some distance to many of the places they go.

What essentials do you use?


3 responses to “What stuff do you need to be a home educator?

  1. Good solid list, Shell. I think that a few others that I use include:
    1. A comb binder. This is great for making your own workbooks and such. You could always buy a heavy duty stapler too, but I like the bound resources.

    2. A corner rounder punch. If you heat laminate like I do, when you cut apart the pieces, they can be quite sharp or pokey. Since we do so much with flashcards and card learning, I prefer to just punch the corners so that they don’t get caught on skin or linenes on the bed and such. I find it is faster than me sitting card after card cutting the corners round.

    3. Wipe of pens. I really like the ones that can be used for over head projectors as the tips are very fine, they don’t smell and they wash off so much better then the plain dry erase variety. Granted you have to use a bit of water, but kids can practice handwriting much better on laminated resources or a white board as the pen tips are very fine. On the downside they are a bit harder to find (at least here in Canada) and they cost a bit more too.

    Those are my add-ons. 🙂 Good post.


  2. We use the heavy-duty ‘milk crate’ style boxes to keep individual children’s books, notebooks and smaller pencil/crayon boxes in. It makes it much easier for the child to take the day’s work to the table or to return it to me for correcting instead of leaving stacks of books on a table or shelf . Oherwise books and papers will eventually leave the shelf or table and wander through the house and get lodged under a bed in someone else’s room. 🙂

    Before we had milk crates, we had thick, large heavy laundry baskets. They also work very well to contain books and papers. Milk crates, however, stack and laundry baskets do not!

  3. STAPLER! Yes, I really must get one.
    Thank you for your added bits to the list ladies.
    The other “must have” in our house is an endless supply of polly-pockets for all those ring binders we use.

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