It’s Back-to-School season, and while this time of year typically energizes me, this year, I am dreading the very thought of the first day of school. And I know I am not alone. Every parent across the country – globe, even – is likely struggling with the same thought: How are we going to survive COVID homeschooling?
We are in this together.
As a former educator, I sometimes feel like I have an advantage, but if I am being honest – no one has an advantage here. Unless you are the 3 – 4% of families who mastered the art of homeschooling long before being thrust into the throes of it in March. After two months of homeschooling this spring, I have a newfound respect for the parents who CHOOSE to do this.
Seriously. Teaching my own child?
Not for the faint of heart.
But I am here to help you navigate the start of a new school year – to help you and your children survive COVID homeschooling, and to help everyone have a successful start to the new year.
Over the next week, I will share tips to help you and your family transition into a new school year. There will be some practical advice, like today’s post: Supply Lists! And there will be some survival skills (ahem, grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet corner, and breath!). But by the end of the Back-to-School COVID-style series, I hope that you will have enough advice to get you through the first few weeks (months, year?) of homeschooling.
Step 1: Have School Supplies On The Ready
Back-to-School shopping will look unlike any other year. Forget the new clothes and fancy new sneakers. Yes, you will still need notebooks and pencils. But this year, you need to stock your house.
Think of it this way – your home is now your child’s classroom. Everything that your child has access to at school (think staplers, hole punchers, pencil sharpeners), you should have in your home.
Trust me. Being prepared will go a long way.
So what exactly do you need to buy?
All of Staples.
No, I am kidding. That would be a dream come true.
There is no need to go overboard, but you should have a few key items in your home.
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Items for your home
There are so many options ranging from the inexpensive to the massive and insanely expensive. You do not need a fancy office printer that can make 100 copies in 5-minutes. But you do need to have a printer. Learning online is hard enough – completing worksheets online? Ugh. Give your child a break. Have a printer on hand so they are able to print out any handouts the teacher posts or emails home.
I suggest either Epson or HP. They are reliable, have great customer service, are relatively cheap, and most importantly, are so easy to set up and use.
Don’t forget the ink. And have extras on hand. There is nothing worse than trying to print something out and the ink go dry. Have an extra cartridge available. Better yet, enroll in HP Instant Ink and automatically have ink shipped to your house when the levels are low. This is a lifesaver. Trust me.
Help your child stay organized by having a stapler and 3-hole punch available. Have you ever handed a child a stack of papers only to find page 1 in their bedroom, page 2 and 3 on the kitchen counter, and pages 4 and 5 stuffed in between the cushions of the couch? No? Just my child?
Seriously. Staple groups of papers that belong together, together. Put holes in the pages and put it in a binder. You have a better chance of managing the stacks of paper.
Oh, the dull pencil tips. I hate them. In fact, I hate them so much that I typically only use mechanical pencils. However, I’ve learned (the hard way) that younger children who haven’t quite figured out the appropriate amount of pressure to put on a pencil tip when writing fair better with a wooden pencil.
This pencil sharpener is, hands down, one of the best sharpeners I have ever used. It can sharpen a pencil in about 3 seconds. And for anyone who has to listen to pencils being sharpened all day long (yes, teachers), this will save you from a migraine.
I’ll get more into organization techniques later in the week, but for now, get yourself a white board calendar. You’ll thank me later.
Items for your Child(ren)
Again, we will talk about organization later in the week, but for now, the short of it: determine the best method for your child. Notebooks or loose leaf paper?
Personally, I am a binder and loose leaf paper type of gal. As a classroom teacher, binders were required of my students. But for some students, binders are not the best option.
Don’t fret over what is best. Make a decision. If it isn’t working out, you can try the other option. We will talk more about setting up binders and folders later.
Seems like a luxury. But if your child is in middle school or higher, invest in a pack of graph paper. Please.
And a lot of them. These will never go to waste. Every child needs them. Heck, every adult needs them. Get the good ones too (see links above). There is nothing more infuriating than a highlighter that fades over time. Imagine active reading for three hours, highlighting important pieces, only to find, two months later, when studying for a midterm, that the ink faded – sometimes fading the print in the book, too.
You want to splurge on the erasers. Those crappy erasers that come with pencils leave pink marks all over the page, and they don’t fully erase. The ones I recommend, link above, are white. They erase completely and don’t leave smudges all over the page. And your kid is going to need a ruler more times than you would think. Trust me.
Active reading, anyone? Get post-its, and in various colors. It will help your child with his or her reading comprehension and they can be used to help stay organized.
Middle school and high school students will need a calculator for math. Some math teachers will want your child to have a specific calculator, so check with them. But if they don’t specify, I recommend these two calculators:
Non-Graphing Calculator (for students in pre-algebra or lower)
Graphing Calculator (for students in algebra or higher)
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That about does it.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another tip to help you through COVID homeschooling!
What are your go-to school supplies? Does your child’s teacher recommend other supplies? Help us complete our list and share your favorite items!
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