I was cruising through our local Target earlier this week only to be stopped in my tracks by the enormous back to school display. I suppose it's reasonable to expect, given that it is August and Labor Day (typically the mile-marker that signals the start of a new school year) is just a month away. But summer can't possibly be finished yet!
Giving in to the inevitable, my college students and I had great fun looking at what's new and improved in Target's "back to school" supplies this year. And I will admit, I stayed long enough at the display that I ended up tossing a couple products in my cart. But it also got me to thinking about all the new and returning Sonlighters I've talked with this summer, and wondering what their shopping carts will look like this month. So I thought it would be fun to put together a back to school checklist!
One caveat before getting started ... not all of these ideas are original to me. There have been a couple of great back to school conversations out on the Sonlight Forums the past few weeks. You won't want to miss them!
- Post-It Tabs ... Homeschooling or not, life cannot be lived efficiently without a good supply of these gems. Some uses might include using them as bookmarks, reminder notes for students (and spouses), visual reminders of important dates on the family calendar, and the list goes on and on. Did you know you can even use Post-Its to clean up the kids' computer keyboards? Just run the sticky edge between the keys to grab all those crumbs and whatever else might be living between the Enter and Shift keys. And don't even get me started on the endless variety of colors and designs that are available! Obviously I have an obsession.
- Pens, Pencils and Crayons ... Yes, I realize that most students today are doing their school work digitally. But a new school year isn't complete without packages of pens, pencils and crayons. Even if it's only for that new school "scent" they give off when you open them.
- Bins, Tins and Crates ... These all fall under the category of "holding stuff". Whether you find some of those cute little metal pails to hold pencils and crayons or choose from the vast array of plastic milk crates for holding books and notebooks ... you need something to corral all the materials that are generated when you homeschool. Each student should have one, and be responsible for making sure their stuff finds its way "home" at the end of every school day.
- Binders and File Folders ... These are also "stuff holders" of a different kind. Record keeping is infinitely easier when you know where to find your students' completed work. Colors and designs are without limit, so let your kids express their creative side when purchasing these.
- Sticky Stuff ... There are all sorts of reasons to need to stick things to other things when you're homeschooling. This category might include Scotch Tape, glue sticks, Velcro, and/or that wonderful adhesive tac/putty that lets you stick stuff to the walls without using tape.
- Markers, Highlighters, Sharpies ... Especially helpful for older students, highlighters are one of the best study tools ever invented. You can never have enough colors ... and you really need to check out the gel version. A lot of people have an obsession with Sharpies ... give me a good gel highlighter any day.
- Index Cards ... See Post-It Tabs above. Similar functionality ... different look and feel.
- Computer Supplies ... This category includes all those items you need to make the technology in your house run smoothly. Think ink cartridges and printer paper.
- Paper ... While much of our culture is going "paperless", there is still good reason to have a supply on hand. In addition to the computer paper mentioned in the previous bullet, there are also spiral-bound notebooks, composition notebooks, and packages of college-ruled, 3-hole punched paper.
- Assignment Notebooks/Planners ... Whether you have a great digital app, or prefer the hard-copy version ... it is particularly helpful to be able to put your eyes on the week's assignments/expectations. It's a good idea to have your plan outlined where you can refer to it often in the busyness of life, especially if you are teaching multiple children. As your students grow older, an assignment tool of their own will help them more easily make the transition to independent learning.
I'm sure there are many other items that could be added to my list ... but these are my top 10 recommendations. Have fun with this! Make school supply shopping/acquisition part of an annual back-to-school tradition! It's a great way to have a positive start to your school year.
Still on the journey ...
PS ... Be sure to watch your local office supply stores for great school supply sales. And take a few minutes to read another forum back-to-school conversation to make sure you don't miss any important supplies!
PPS ... And of course ... don't forget to order your curriculum, if you haven't already!