10 Homeschool Essentials

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There are probably lots of things that come to mind when you think of homeschool essentials. The following ten items may not be the first to jump to your mind, but they’re things that I use regularly in our homeschool and often find myself being so thankful to have them. Well, except for two of them. Those two are things I’ve wished, multiple times, that I had, but have never actually broken down and purchased.

10 Homeschool Essentials

1. Heavy-duty 3-hole punch. For a long time, I just had a regular 3-hole punch. When it finally gave out, I purchased a reasonably-priced heavy-duty 3-hole punch like the one I linked to. Every time I use it, I am amazed at how much easier it is than the old one. I wish I’d bought it years ago. With all the hole-punching we do for our Trail Guide to Learning pages, it only makes sense to have a sturdy hole-punch that doesn’t require most of my body weight to actually punch through all the pages.

2. Quality dry erase board. Our dry erase board is something we use nearly every day. I’ve been through several smaller, inexpensive ones. It was so worth finally investing in a sturdier one…with a tray for our markers and eraser! It’s a bonus that it’s magnetic, so we can use and store our All About Spelling tiles on it, too.


3. Electric pencil sharpener. I found our electric pencil sharpener at a yard sale the first or second year we homeschooled. I think I gave, at most, $5 for it, but it would have been worth the full price of a new one. It’s one of those sturdy, heavy ones and we use it every single day.

4. Paper cutter. Okay, this is one of those things that I only wish I had, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that I had one. I’m a little OCD about cutting straight, but I can’t do it to save my life. I used to make lots of game cards and word cards for the kids. I would have used a good paper cutter regularly back then.

5. Long reach stapler. This is the other one that I’ve often wished we had. It would have been so handy for making our passport books for our homeschool group’s Around the World Day when the kids were younger or for making homemade books.

6. Large storage cabinet. I got my storage cabinet the first year we homeschooled and it’s still in use over 10 years later. It’s not my everyday storage cabinet now – I’ve got lots of places hidden around my kitchen for storing homeschool supplies – but it’s still the first place I start when I’m looking for something we need. It’s where I store all my good stuff that I may not be using now, but I’m not ready to part with.

7. Bookshelf. Okay, maybe normal people don’t have bookshelves in their dining rooms, but I think we’ve already established that homeschoolers are not normal people. I love my dining room bookshelf! It’s where all the stuff that we use every day is stored.

Luna and the Laptop Bag

(See? There it is, behind the cats.)

8. Portable file box. I have a portable file box that I keep filled with a variety of papers and stored in my China hutch. It’s so handy! It’s got notebook paper, construction paper, cardstock, computer paper – whatever we might need – and it’s all stored in easily-accessible hanging file folders.

9. Computer. I honestly don’t know what we’d do without a computer (or two or three) for our homeschool. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably already heard me lamenting the two laptops that have recently crashed, leaving all three kids trying to do their math on one really old desktop.

I’m so thankful that Brianna’s new laptop (bought with her own money) should be here any day now! She’ll be back on her own computer and once Megan finishes the last 10 or so lessons of her current math level, I think I’m going to give in and put the next level on my laptop, so no one will have to wait on anyone else to finish with the computer in order to do their math. That will just make my life easier and more peaceful.

10. Camera. Hey, you’ve got to have a good camera to document the days of living, learning, and loving together. They go by entirely too fast.

What are your non-curricular must-have items for school?

Collage photo credit: pencils, stapler, pencil sharpener

This post contains affiliate links and is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.


Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. A tip from a fellow OCD paper cutter: I never found a good deal on an office paper cutter, but scrapbook supply stores have a good and relatively inexpensive selection. I’ve had mine for 8 years now and only had to change the blade piece once at a cost of about $5.

  2. It’s funny that I was reading this and read about your file box, which contains the exact same things as mine does. It’s perfect for storing all the different papers.
    The camera may be the most important! It’s so much fun to document the special times that we get to experience as homeschool teachers, as well as the not so fun times. It’s all about special memories!

  3. chalkboard. seriously, chalk doesn’t dry out and quit working, if you write on a wet chalk board the chalk becomes wet-erase, can be used by any age, not just those who won’t draw on their skin and clothes.

    personal white boards. small, comes with a stand to hold the marker and eraser, works as a visual barrier when you need one. We have two, and I am considering a third because my DH steals it for his office.

    tape. yes tape. packing tape makes an excellent redneck laminator. scotch tape we use at such an alarming rate I buy it in bulk. double side tape can speed up any art, science or stick-this-to-that project.

    non electric pencil sharpeners. Both wall mount and hand held. Sometimes kids just need a little break to compose their thoughts. no buzzing, no speed or electricity. just shaving wood unplugged.

    Office Supplies. My greatest weakness.

  4. We are a 2nd Grade and preschool homeschool family and I have gone through so many pencil sharpeners. My most recent one an electric one was purchased at Walmart and it is horrible. I am going to have to take it back. Any good ones out there that actually sharpen the pencils straight? Thanks!

    1. Mine is one of those old, heavy, sturdy things. I don’t know that they even sell them anymore. As far as pencils, it’s been my experience that it’s probably the pencil, not the sharpener. We love Ticonderoga pencils.

    2. We have the electric Bostitch 6-hole sharpener, which I love. But be warned, it’s so cool it becomes a distraction in the classroom. Pencils break and dull fairly quickly for us. Also, my daughter likes use the filthy shavings (the cup being easy to empty) for her toy horses’ barn floors.

  5. Do you have a good brand of white board? We’ve gone though several cheap (wal mart) ones.

    I’d add to your list: a binging machine! Because I want one SO badly! lol Something to help me create notebooks and keepsakes of all the kids’ work! I think it would be better than a 3-ring binder. But I hear they are expensive- though I think it might be worth the price, I can think of a dozen things I’d like to bind right now!


    1. I’m pretty sure our last dry erase board came from Wal-mart, but it’s got the metal trim around it, so it’s really sturdy.

  6. Thanks for another great post! Just an FYI, you can get 100 PG. Packs of three hole punched paper at the 99¢ store. Has been great for “in the binder” printing.

  7. The only 3 of those I have are the camera, computer and bookshelf. And the cat, I used to have a little cat that looked just like yours. I think my number one essential would be the computer, followed by lots of books and some great educational toys and games. And travel, always travel!

  8. Long reach stapler- you must have read my mind. I just put one on my wish list. I am so tired of punching holes with a needle then inserting the staple myself. It takes forever.

  9. Tape, paper, and good pencils!
    I now spend the extra money to get “good” pencils and colored pencils. I don’t waist the money on cheep ones anymore.
    Oh and my bookshelf (which is in my kitchen) and my computer!

    All a must for homeschooling in this house!

  10. I started home schooling before Internet access was common. The number one thing I use now is high speed Internet, second is a library card and third is a copier/printer. Truthfully the first year we home schooled we bought a second car, it made field trips much easier and I no longer had to wake a 7 year old and toddler to take husband to work. ( The cats are of no use what so ever, the first rule at our house is, ” Remove the cat from the book before starting school work.”)

  11. I am a huge fan of reproducible curriculum, so computer, printer, printer paper & hole punch were definitely at the top of my list. I have an adjustable 3-hole punch that I’ve been using for 30+ years! 3-ring binders & pencils for the kids, mechanical pencils when they got older, so extra lead on hand. Clear Contact plastic for flash cards & things I knew I’d be using for years, since in-home laminators weren’t a thing when I started out. Bookshelves & filing cabinet for everything I reused/copied for 6 kids!
    Some of those things have done (and still are doing) double duty with my children’s ministries.

  12. We love a bit of playdoh or plasticine for some dexterity work or a good fiddle to keep hands busy if needed

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