by Katie Julius

I love this time of year. The store shelves are filled with rows of new school supplies – from a rainbow of three-ring binders to boxes of brand new, unbroken crayons to clean, crisp lined notebooks to freshly sharpened #2 pencils and more. While homeschoolers may not need to stock up on all of those supplies, there are some essentials for a homeschooling mom to be sure she has to start the new school year.

  • Library Card – You’ve no doubt seen the memes; homeschoolers are known for having a very large hoard of books. But you don’t have to break the bank to offer your kids a rich literary experience. A library card, set visiting schedule, and use of the online request or reservation system can be such a help whether you’re looking for read-alouds, independent reading, picture books, or nonfiction for research and reports.
  • Pass to State/National Parks, Zoo, Aquarium, Museum or Nature Guide – We all have days when we need to just get out of the house. If your family has a favorite place to visit, this can be a great way to get out of a rut and reset everyone’s attitude with a fun day of hands-on learning.
  • Favorite Planner – Even if you’re a “what we did” vs. “what we plan to do” planner, having a way to keep track of where you are at with your curriculum and extracurricular activities can be helpful. Looking for a printable, customizable planner? CHEA members get one free as a benefit of membership. Just log in to the CHEA website and go to the Digital Library tab to download yours.
  • Bible/Devotional – Start your day off in the Word! This doesn’t have to be a three-hour-long quiet time in the morning before the kids wake up. Simply reading a Psalm or from a short family devotional helps “set our minds on things above” (Col. 3:2).  Keep it close by so you can grab it during any spare moments.
  • Chore Chart/Morning To-Do List – The way your morning goes usually sets the tone for the rest of the day. Writing down a basic routine can help set you up for success, even if you can’t think straight before your coffee. Likewise, having a chore routine the kids can reference without constantly asking you what’s next not only lightens your load of household work, but fosters independence and responsibility.
  • Back to School Teacher Gift – This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but maybe it’s something you’ve really been wanting for a long time. What is that one thing that would make your homeschool mama heart happy?
  • A solid in-person support group and/or mentor – Being with your kids all day can be exhausting and lonely. Having a good in-person support group or older homeschool mom mentor to encourage you, as well as provide friendships and shared learning opportunities, is vital. If you need help finding a group, CHEA’s Homeschool Directory is a great place to start.
  • Regularly scheduled time for you as an individual and with your spouse – I know it’s cliché, but it’s also very true. You cannot pour into your children if you don’t take time to take care of yourself and the relationship with your husband. It’s harder for you to care for, raise, and educate the children God has entrusted to you when you don’t make rest and your marriage a priority.
  • Favorite podcast subscription or playlist – Some days you just need an extra bit of encouragement. Whether it’s a playlist with your favorite worship songs or an inspiring podcast, having something you like to listen to can get you (and the kids) through those rough days.
  • CHEA (and HSLDA) Membership – Being part of organizations that support and protect homeschooling is so important. While there may not be any current threats to private home education in California, there have been in the past and we must remain vigilant for those that will surely arise in the future. Membership with CHEA and HSLDA should be on every homeschooler’s back-to-school shopping list!

We hope you find this list helpful as you consider the ways that homeschooling is different than a traditional classroom setting. We hope it encourages you to think outside the box as you plan for this coming year. What is on your back-to-school shopping list?