Must-Have School Supplies for Homeschoolers

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There are so many different doodahs and gadgets out in the world, it’s hard to know what you really need for homeschooling. After more than 20 years in this gig, I’ve narrowed down school supplies for homeschoolers to this supply list, including our time-tested favorites for home learning.

Whether this is your first year or your fifth, you know that having the right homeschool supplies in your homeschool classroom can make a big difference in how your school runs and how well you can pull off all the activities you’ve been dreaming of.

box of crayons atop green composition book with pencils nearby on black table.

Are you ready to tackle the school year? Do you have what it takes?

I don’t mean stamina, patience, and a weekly glass of wine. Though, those items do help. I’m talking about school supplies for homeschoolers.

Does your school supply cabinet overflow with things you’re not sure how to use? Are you at a loss at what to buy? Do you wish there was a magic homeschool supply list that loaded you up with what you need to teach your kids at home?

It’s gonna be okay. Trust me. I’ve been teaching my kids at home for over 20 years now. #igotyou

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t really need a ton of gadgets and doodahs to supply your homeschool. This list of school supplies for homeschoolers that I’m sharing today is pretty simple, not terribly expensive, and won through much trial and error.

Also an innumerable number of junky electric pencil sharpeners.

student planner with pencils on black table.

The following are items that we use almost on a regular basis to encourage learning at home and to help the mother/teacher stay calm and with-it.

Pro tip: Both those qualities are important for a mom teaching kids at home.

Homeschool Planner and Student Planners

Just like their parents, our kids need a way to track their assignments and manage their responsibilities. Teach them to do this as soon as they can write and you will have done yourself a huge favor. A good planner is a must have school supply for homeschoolers.

For the past couple years, my kids have been using the Print & Go Student Planner. I recommend this for kids 6th grade an above. For younger kids I recommend the OLAM Homeschool planning pages.

This Print & Go Student Planner (your purchase allows you license to print one for each kid in the family) provides ample space for daily to-do lists, weekly checklists, and weekly schedules. There are also goal setting pages and space to create a paper vision board.

Planners work particularly well for the student with online classes (like mine) for whom the assignments are doled out by a teacher outside the home.

If you’re writing the assignments, then I recommend the following:

homeschool assignment binder open to grammar page.

Homeschool Assignment Binders

By far and away, when I was teaching all my kids classes, our homeschool assignment binders were the best things to keep me/us/them on track when I was teaching all their classes. I don’t think we could have weathered weeks of chaos the year my health went south when I was messaging doctors, waiting on hold with insurance companies, or getting blood tests.

The fact that I had every lesson plan and assignment written down for every kid for the whole year saved my bacon. The older kids knew exactly what to do next while I knew where to pick up the pieces with the littles ones.

Once my health crisis had passed, it was a great tool for keeping us on track.

school supplies including clipboard on red wood table.

Post-it Notes

Post-it Notes work incredibly well as a communication tool and the occasional bookmark. Once I go over the day’s assignments in a child’s binder or planner, I write down on a 3-inch Post-it the things that he is missing or what he needs to do tomorrow. They are an easy at-a-glance communication tool.

We also use them in all shapes and sizes to mark pages in textbooks, novels, and assignment pages.

What did we do before sticky notes?!

Basic Office Supplies

What are office supplies doing on a list of school supplies for homeschoolers? A lot of what we use is the same as you’d use in your office, so look for sales all year round, not just back-to-school.

Lots of pencils – I used to swear by Ticonderoga yellow pencils they changed their manufacturing over the years and the yellow are no longer the cat’s meow. Grab a pack of the Ticonderoga Black pencils or switch to mechanical pencils for best results.

White erasersThese polymer erasers don’t smear as much as those at the end of the pencil ones.

Clipboards – Great for on-the-go writing and keeping track of home school papers. Get them in multi colors and let every kid choose his color.

Expandable folders for storing school records – Have one for each kid, color-coded to match their school color.

Pens for mom and older kids – Our favorites are Pilot G-2.

Wite-OutThis correction fluid is great for when someone messes up in ink. Pro tip – don’t let younger students use ink in their homeschool curriculum.

More rulers than one could ever use in a lifetime – Trust me. There’s some creature that goes around eating rulers.

copious amounts of copy paper and ruled paper – Buy more than you think you will need.

hole punch – necessary if you use a binder system for storing school papers.

silver pencil sharpener attached to black table.

Old School Pencil Sharpener

I don’t know how many electric pencil sharpeners that we’ve burned through over the years. I lost count at three. Or was it four?

Five years ago, we ordered the old school kind that you attach to a wall or table. This baby is still going strong.

Art Supplies

After years of stocking stuff that the kids never used on art projects, I learned that less is more. Don’t go too crazy with the art supplies even though they are standard school supplies for homeschoolers.

These are super helpful:

  • markers – regular art markers as well as dry erase markers
  • dry erase boards – Good for practicing handwriting
  • crayons – sorted and reused from last year
  • Sketch books for each child
  • old magazines for collages
  • colored construction paper
  • stickers for embellishing planners
boy with pattern blocks on kitchen table.

Math Manipulatives

Math manipulatives have been top of my list of recommended school supplies for homeschoolers. Not only did they make math more fun, but the kids always liked to play with them, just because.

They spent hours building and playing with teddy bear counters, pattern blocks, linking cubes, and more. So far, four kids have majored in STEM which has me wondering if they were learning and thinking simply while they played.

library books on shelf.

Library Card

I have saved so much money using the library for our school books! I do buy some books, like the regularly used homeschool curriculum books and books required for high school courses where specific editions are needed.

However, most of our pleasure reading, history supplements, and read-alouds have come from the library.

The flip side of this arrangement is that the library is not entirely free. Thank you, good tax payers.

Additionally, we pay a fair amount of money in fines every year. $81.04 in one year alone. Ahem. I’m sure we got our $81.04-worth, but still.

I’ve now programmed into my phone library due dates. Oy.

However, digital library books automatically disappear when your checkout time is expired. As our local library’s OverDrive collection expands, my library fines will diminish. Hallelujah. Speaking of which….

school books and kindle tablet stacked on table.

Kindle

In order to make digital check-outs easy, the kids each have their own Kindle for homeschool. I love it that everyone can read the same book at the same time!

We used Kindle Unlimited for a time, but have since put that on hold. It didn’t pencil out for us. However, if you read more than $10-worth per month or have more than $10-worth of library fines, it may be worth if for you!

Since I bought history and literature books for my teens this year, I bought some books on Kindle because they were cheaper or because I knew we’d both need to read it at the same time.

I love the easy portability and big storage. Watch for sales at Christmas or on special sale days! I bought each kid a Kindle Fire for a great price several years ago. They are the bare bones model with special offers and work great for our purposes.

This is the school supply list that I draw from each year. These items have proved their worth over the years.

homeschool schedule and pencil in an open binder.

More Homeschool Helps

This post was originally published on August 30, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.

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10 Comments

  1. “I’m sure that in five years linking cubes and tan parallelograms will start seeping out of the walls.”

    Thanks for the laugh! So, so true.

  2. We’ve pretty much moved to mechanical pencils exclusively around here. So I stock up on those in the summer.

    Can’t live without post it flags and Excel. I do all my planning and assignment sheets in excel.

    I let the kids each pick out a new folder each year. We keep the week’s work in it. They can choose whatever they want even if it’s not on sale or one of the cheap ones. It’s an inexpensive way to let them express themselves and let’s face it, back to homeschool doesn’t have a lot of excitement going for it

      1. My youngest is 12 so we’re not talking about little kids. The boys like a sharp point and don’t like using the pencil sharpener so they haven’t abused the mechanical pencils

  3. Our school supply list is pretty similar. Pencil sharpeners (and sharpening pencils) drive me crazy! We’ve tried the mechanical pencils, but they don’t work well for my kids. We’ve worn out several battery operated ones, and are always using the little handheld ones until they wear out. We had one that was “old-school” style. We have worn that one out, too (but we did get it used, so maybe it is just time for an update.)
    I agree with the Kindle books. I try to use those where I can, and audiobooks for some of our read-alouds. It’s easier to carry them around, and we have to be portable for school.

  4. I meant to add that the other thing I’ve done with our school supplies is color code where possible. With only 3 children, that’s not too hard. It makes organizing and keeping track of supplies easier. And it cuts down on decisions when buying them. I can get overwhelmed with too many choices. Now I know to stick to the basics, and buy my 3 colors.

  5. I used to love going school shopping for all the supplies! Even to this day sticky notes are my savior!! Cant go without them!