Back-to-school means it’s time to stock up on school supplies – even if you school at home. While I’m right there with you when it comes to tossing $0.50 crayons and composition books in my shopping cart, when you’re thinking back-to-school for high school students, you sometimes have to start looking at investing in supplies that fall under the “big-ticket” category.
Following are some of the back-to-school items I think are important for high school students:
Science lab equipment
It wasn’t until just a few weeks before Brianna started her 9th grade year that I realized I’d forgotten something important. We had all her books and other supplies, but in reading the blog of a mom whose daughter was also preparing to start biology, I realized we were missing something.
“What is the one thing you remember from high school biology,” I asked Brian.
He promptly replied with the answer I expected, “The labs.”
Yes, labs are a huge part of high school biology and something we hadn’t even considered. After discussing it, we decided that, with two other kids to follow, a quality microscope was worth the investment.
And worth the investment it was. All of us got into Brianna’s lab assignments when it was time to pull out the microscope. We’ll get to enjoy it again within the next couple of years as Megan and Josh go through biology.
We also found it worthwhile to get some good beakers and test tubes when we hit chemistry. Brianna really appreciated having quality science equipment. Even though science wasn’t her favorite subject, having the right equipment for the experiments gave them an air of importance over the “kitchen science” she’d done prior to high school.
As teens move into high school, it’s time for them to start working more independently. I think it’s important to offer them tools to stay organized. Those tools are going to look different for different kids. Some will appreciate student planners, while others, like Brianna prefer a more simplified lesson plan sheet.
One of the things that Brianna liked best, believe it or not, was our work crate system. Having the individual file folders for each of her subjects helped her stay organized. Even today, with only a couple of classes to finish up before graduation, if I find myself looking for something school-related and have to ask Brianna about it, she’ll say, “It’s probably in my work crate.”
And, it usually is.
Okay, for your student, it very well may not be markers. I’m mom to an artist, though, and as she moved into the high school years we felt the need to invest in high quality markers. For your student, it may be a musical instrument, a good sewing machine, or drama classes.
All I’m saying is that high school may be the time when you see that your student isn’t losing interest in a long-time hobby or maybe he’s picked up a new hobby. As our teens move closer to adulthood, we can start to see where their hobbies may give way to a career interest and it’s good to invest in that when and how you can.
Even if our kids’ hobbies remain hobbies, they may play an important role in their lives as adults. Give them as much opportunity to explore them now as you are able.
A Laptop or tablet
Clearly, I’m all about the technology. Even if you aren’t, however, I think it’s important that our kids know how to use it. Computer technology is part of the make-up of society now and to be competitive in the job market, our teens need to know how to effectively use it.
Brianna got her first laptop several years ago with some Christmas money and a little help from Nannie, who may have earned “Grandmother of the Year” award that year. She’s used it for math (our curriculum is computer-based), for all her subjects when we used Switched-on-Schoolhouse one year, for research, and for typing her writing assignments.
She’s also watched countless YouTube videos on it. Many of them, of course, are not educational, but she’s used them to learn sign language and some Japanese. And, of course, there is Facebook. Homeschoolers are supposed to get socialization, right?
My younger two just got laptops this week. It’s amazing how quickly kids take to technology. I’m lost when it comes to Windows 8, but they’re both already navigating around like they’ve been using it forever.
Finally, thanks to Staples, we now have a graphing calculator. This is fairly new stuff to me. There were no such things way back when when I was in high school. The thing is, though, I don’t want my kids to be at a disadvantage when it comes time to take the ACT or SAT. I want them to know how to set the problems up and figure them out the old-fashioned way, but if the majority of the kids taking these tests are going to be using graphing calculators, I want my kids to have one and know how to use it.
The knowing how to use it part was tricky for me. You know how you sometimes have to hand your smartphone off to your kid so they can work it for you? Yeah. Have you seen how many buttons are on one of these graphing calculators?
I was having my friend who is tutoring Brianna in math help her figure out how to work it. Then, I found this awesome site where even I can learn to use a graphing calculator. There is a general information section and it has everything broken down by the subjects you can use the calculator for, such as Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, statistics, and trigonometry.
Then, you can click on specific problem types and the site walks you, step-by-step, though how to figure out those types of problems on your graphing calculator.
I’m not going to lie to you – I don’t yet understand how everything works on this calculator, but the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus offers such features as:
- 16 character, 8 line display
- 24KB RAM
- 13 pre-loaded apps
- USB and unit-to-unit connectivity for downloading apps, printing homework, or sharing work
- Hard-shell cover to protect the unit
There is a learning curve to using the graphing calculator, but once you figure it out, it’s fairly easy to operate. And, if all else fails, just hit the Easy Button!
The Easy Button also adds a whole new dimension to family board games. Beat someone soundly? Pressing the Easy Button is well-received. Or not, but it’s fun. That may be another post for another day, however.
I may not be able to help you with some of the high school must-haves on this list, but thanks to the folks at Staples, I can help you with the graphing calculator and a fun Staples Easy Button! One reader will win a TI-84 Plus graphing calculator and an Easy Button from Staples. Follow the directions on the RaffleCopter widget below to enter. (Email readers will need to visit the blog to enter.)
Rules: This giveaway is open to United States residents, ages 18 years and older only. Giveaway ends on Monday, August 19. The winner will be selected at random using Random.org via RaffleCopter.
The winner will notified via email and given 72 hours to respond. You must enter a valid email address to win. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email or does not respond within 72 hours, the prize will be forfeited and and alternate winner selected.
Click to read the complete rules. By entering this giveaway, you indicate that you have read and agreed to abide by these rules.
I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.
This post is linked to the Homeschool High School Link-Up.