Do you ever wish you could take a peek inside a friend’s homeschool for a minute? Do you wish someone would tell you how to start homeschooling in a simple way? I’m here for ya, friend.
Homeschooling is an amazing blessing. But as with everything in life, sometimes we make it a little more complicated than it really needs to be. I know I sure did. When my oldest was barely 3 years old, I was browsing the aisles at homeschool conventions poised and ready to set up for something awesome. It has been many years since that first school day and I’ve learned a whole lot about how beautiful a simple homeschool can be.
Of course, in some ways, I’m just a baby in the homeschool world and have so much yet to learn. The cool thing about learning is that we are all CONSTANTLY a work in progress. Well, at least, if we allow ourselves to be. Sometimes a better idea comes along and we throw out something awesome that we have always done to accommodate this new idea. Sometimes circumstances change and we find ourselves learning new things.
All of that said, it is with great humility that I share with you my four steps to simple homeschool. From the pencils to the curriculum, this is the stuff that works in my single-mama home. Ready for the tour?
It might work for you and it might not. Just remember, I share it not because I think that everything I know and do is right, but because I know that we learn from each other and that this kind of learning is a wonderful blessing. Always remember that every family’s unique situation will be the largest factor in determining much of the way their homeschool looks and functions.
So I pray you find something here that is helpful. And by all means, leave some comments. I’d love to hear what you are doing (and so would others)!
Step One: Set-up your homeschool space
It all starts with a good place to make it happen, right? I’ve told the Tale of My Two Schoolrooms before and how I came to the conclusion that having school in the places where we live is most effective for my family. It was hard for this former classroom teacher mama who REALLY wanted cute little desks with alphabet strips and pencil boxes. But life happens and school can’t really be separated for us, so we have grown into our latest set-up: The Practical and Simple Homeschool Room.
With this set-up, school happens right at the kitchen table. All of the supplies are there AND I can chop carrots for dinner while calling out spelling words. It’s a lifesaver for me. For a detailed look at what’s on that shelf against the wall, head over to my Practical and Simple Homeschool Room post by clicking here.
Step Two: Gather Supplies
Of course, there is more to organizing your space than just figuring out where the bodies will sit. The Practical and Simple Homeschool room includes a detailed look at how I organize all of our supplies presently.
Wondering what to buy? I promise it’s really a lot easier than you think! I like to stock up during back to school sales on the annual stuff and of course there are some one time purchases as well.
One time purchase supplies:
iPad– Yes, I find this incredibly helpful. There are lots of apps to help with math or spelling. And when one child needs to watch a supplemental video or even type a paper, having an iPad nearby is an easy way to get it done.
Printer– I have two printers that I do honestly think are the absolute best. I use a Brother color printer and a Black and White laser printer. Why two? Well, the color printer allows me to print those fun printables that just aren’t the same without color. Because it’s a Brother, the ink cartridges are super cheap AND you can even get generic ones. I’ve saved tons of money on this printer. BUT, I do print a LOT of stuff that doesn’t need to be color (like say coupons and most of our homeschool stuff). That’s where the black and white laser printer comes in. This guy is a workhorse. Because it works with toner and not cartridges, I can print as many as 2500 pages on one toner cartridge, which means I buy a toner only about once a year. It’s an awesome money saving tool.
Pencil sharpener– I do have a favorite pencil sharpener and I happen to think it’s the world’s best. After going through more than 5 electric sharpeners and seriously wanting to just get an old fashioned crank sharpener to hang on the wall, I bought this one as a last resort. A homeschooling mom of 4 recommended it and I’m telling you, she was right. It has been a workhorse in our home for over 3 years without even a hiccup. Most of the other sharpeners were lucky to last 2 months. Trust me, it’s a keeper!
My annual shopping list usually looks like this:
Ticonderoga pencils– yes I am a brand snob on this one. Once I switched to these pencils and stopped buying the cheap versions, I always found that at the end of the year, we STILL had pencils. They weren’t all broken or missing erasers anymore. I promise. You won’t go back to other brands.
Glue sticks– (generally 5 per elementary student, 20-30 for a kindergartner or preschooler)
Bottles of glue– we buy about 5 per year for the whole family
Notebooks– I buy 1.5 inch notebooks for each child. You can see more about how I use these here.
Computer paper– we can easily go through 10 packs of this a year. I find that it goes on sale at Wal-mart often enough that I don’t need to buy that many at a time.
Wooden rulers– 1 per student. I buy wooden only because the plastic ones usually don’t have all of the measurements on them.
Big pink erasers– 3 or 4 per student
Crayons– 5 boxes per elementary student, 10 boxes for kindergartner or preschooler. You want to buy enough of these during the sales. They are significantly cheaper. And you can always save what you don’t use for next year. That hasn’t even been a problem though.
Colored pencils– 4-5 packs per student. I really prefer my kids to use these over crayons and markers when they are notebooking. It’s much neater and doesn’t bleed.
Step Three: Plan your Year
Now you’ve got a room and some supplies. What are you going to do all day? The answer is much easier than you think, but it all starts with a plan.
First, I follow 12 steps for planning our homeschool year. It begins with prayer, of course, and then moves into some super practical steps for getting our homeschool year off to a great start. Click here to read about those 12 steps of planning.
As you think towards a daily schedule, sometimes all the to-do lists can feel overwhelming. That’s why I use a simple scheduling method for our daily schedule. It took me years to perfect, but it works like a charm.
Once you have your daily schedule planned, you have to choose the right homeschool curriculum to use. Choosing the best curriculum has a reputation for being a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, what works for one family does not always work for another.
If you’d like some guidelines for choosing the best curriculum, you might want to check out my 5 steps for choosing the best curriculum for your family. When choosing curriculum remember to look for something that promotes independent learning, highlights your child’s interests, and if possible could be used for multiple subjects.
I’ve also curated a detailed list of some of absolute favorite curriculum choices. During our Homeschool Curriculum Week, I shared tips and tricks via video for choosing and teaching curriculum for each subject. We looked in detail at each subject from math to language arts to science to electives.
I know that homeschooling can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Simple is always best – and I’m always looking for ways to simplify.
Homeschool Planning Boot Camp
If all of this feels super overwhelming and you’d like a bit more guidance, you are not alone! I’m here for you!
My FREE Homeschool Planning Boot Camp might be a great fit for you! Through video tutorials, you will have your entire school year planned (in 5 days!) from vision to schedule to curriculum. Click the image below for all the details!
Now it’s your turn! What is something you either do or use in your homeschool to help simplify the journey?