Here it is July and already school supplies are making an appearance on store floors. Most people are probably thinking, “What? But school just got out a month ago!” Well as a year-round homeschooling mama, I can appreciate the sales to stock up on basics like crayons, loose leaf paper, etc.,but my biggest tools aren’t even affected by these once-a-year sales. I started to question why I get so excited when I see the large signs advertising “BACK TO SCHOOL”. Must be merely childhood memories of fresh new pencils and a snazzy new Trapper-Keeper. (eek! I just aged myself there, didn’t I?)
So I thought I’d share what I use on a daily basis in my homeschool. I took a look around at my set up and except for books and curriculum I came up with a list of my “Must Haves!”.
1. My Laser Printer
I LOVE this Printer! No ink smears, no fuzzy lines, only clear and crisp professional grade printing. I use it for countless tasks every day. It is a multi-function model so it also scans and copies. I use it to copy worksheets, print printables I find or create, print schedules for my planner, scan documents to store electronically, and probably tons more uses I can’t even think of right now. Some of the features I love are the auto feed tray as well as the glass you can lay materials on to copy. The paper tray is nice and big and is stored in a drawer on the bottom of the printer – No more dusty paper sticking out the top of our printer! Another less common feature, but a true win for us, was that this printer is Linux compatible. Since I chose to print in black and white I tend to dress my printed material in other ways. I have used washi tape, colored pencils, markers and even embellishing with bits of scrapbook paper.
2. 3-ring binders
This item has a dozen uses in my homeschool. I house my printed e-books in them, one holds my curriculum planner, and another holds current term necessities and paperwork. My son uses a 3 ring with loose leaf paper instead of notebooks. I will also keep a yearly homeschool portfolio in a 3-ring binder with selections of the current year’s work. I am especially fond of the binders which have a clear view panel on the front, back and spine so I can customize and decorate as I wish. The D-ring handles paper better, especially with heavy duty sizes (2” and larger).
It sure is handy to laminate paper I want to keep around for awhile, especially from the comfort of my kitchen table! I bought mine years ago from an on-line retailer. I laminate the charts I use for homeschool, calendar/display board pieces, bookmarks, file folder game pieces, and reusable handwriting sheets. If you purchase a laminator or have one, don’t buy your laminating pouches at the big box office supply stores–they are more expensive. A box of 100 can be purchased for the same price Office Depot or Officemax sells for 25. That box of 100 lasts a long time with our usage level.
4. File Folders
Finally, this little workhorse gets the job done in my homeschool and in regular home filing needs. Some items that I don’t need in my curriculum planner or in any other 3-ring, I will file in a cabinet under my desk. I tend to dress the tabs up a bit with washi tape and then the file label on top. It gives them a nice little pop of color and uniformity. File folder games for the little ones or lapbooks are another place where we can burn through the box of folders. No matter where I use them, I prefer heavier quality file folders because of the constant handling. The store brands don’t have the quality to stand up to that so I tend to go name brand when purchasing folders.
So all in all, I’m not sure why I get excited over this time of year sales banners, since my best loved tools for homeschool aren’t even on the back-to-school scene. Oh well. At least I can still meander through the displays while sniffing Ticonderoga brand pencils. (Don’t you judge!)
Feel free to share in the comments what your “power tools” are for homeschooling! I would love to hear what they are!