I remember when I first started homeschooling and was trying to figure out exactly what I needed to run our homeschool effectively. Ben was in preschool and that was 10 years ago. Things have changed a little since then, but for the most part, the same tools I began using then, I am still using today. Some things are just useful no matter what grades you are teaching.
I thought I would share today some of my favorite tools for a homeschool mom’s office. These are the products that have been used over and over (and sometimes replaced because I wore them out). They are also products that don’t necessarily have to always be sitting out, taking up space. With the exception of a couple of things, all of these items are stored on the top shelf of a closet, easy to access, but not taking up the footprint of desks, shelves, or other places in our school room. This is especially helpful for those who have smaller spaces and might not even have a schoolroom. You can tuck them away in a closet and just bring them out when you need to use them. My favorite place to work is in my kitchen, either at the table or on the island.
For all intents and purposes, I am assuming that you have a computer, either desktop or laptop. If you don’t, that would be the first thing I would budget for. I cannot even imagine trying to homeschool without an internet-linked computer.
Now for my the ultimate in homeschool mom’s office set-up!
Hands-down, the one thing I use most after my laptop is my all-in-one printer. I prefer having a wireless model, because then I don’t have to have it tethered to my laptop at all times. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a home office or homeschool room. You can put that printer practically anywhere in your house and print away. I like having an all-in-one because sometimes I need to make copies rather than print. I remember the days of having a printer and copier and it was crazy. They were both huge and took up too much space, and they were expensive. You can find a compact all-in-one for under $50 today. Don’t forget the copy paper. Watch your local office supply stores for big savings during back-to-school sales and stock up!
When we first started homeschooling, I bought loads of those little plastic pencil sharperners. I greatly discounted how many pencils I would sharpen. It took a couple of years for me to follow the advice of more seasoned homeschool moms and invest in an electric pencil sharpener, but I there are no regrets here. If you have several children especially, this is a must-have item for your homeschool mom’s office.
We use notebooking daily in our homeschool. So there are constantly papers being hole-punched and placed in notebooks. You can buy paper that is already punched, but it’s expensive. Besides, kids love punching paper. So save some $$ and entertain the kids at the same time. Double bonus.
This was not a product I bought right away when we began homeschooling. Ten years ago, eBooks were not as common or popular, and if I did happen to print off some kind of digital document, I usually hole-punched it and put in in a pocket folder. But over the past 5 years or so, so much of our curriculum is now purchased in digital downloads and printed. I was spending a lot of money at our local office supply store having our ebooks bound, so I finally broke down and bought my own comb binding machine. I love it! Now I never hesitate to purchase eBooks because I know in a matter of a few minutes (depending on the size of the book), I can have it printed and bound into a book without leaving my house.
A laminator was one of the first things I purchased when Ben was in kindergarten. I used to use it all the time to laminate playing pieces for games, flash cards, file folder activities, play dough mats, and projects we wanted to keep. I’ve even laminated leaves and flowers to preserve them after a nature walk. Now I mostly use it to laminate the covers for eBooks.
The most common size laminating pouch I use is 8×10, but they come in different sizes.
If you’ve ever tried to store eBooks, lapbooks, book reports, or thin literature guides, you know it’s ridiculous to just place them on a bookshelf with other books. They get smashed, bent, and lost. This is why I LOVE magazine files. There are a bazillion ways to use these things to organize your homeschool mom’s office, but the most common ways I use them are for eBooks, lapbooks, and teacher’s guides. I buy the plain white ones because I can easily write on them a list of what’s in the box. If you have creative kids, they also love decorating them.