We all know school supplies and curricula are a must when shopping for the upcoming school year. But, I quickly learned that’s not all I need to complete my shopping list. For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a third-year homeschool mom to my kindergarten and second-grade boys. Today, I want to share seven odd items that always make my back-to-homeschool list. The following items are totally preference-based, but sure do make our homeschool days more successful.
I won’t bore you with a long intro, so let’s get straight to the point!
7 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List
Fruit of the spirit, that is.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Unfortunately, these characteristics aren’t something we just have. They are muscles that need to be worked daily. The more you use the challenges of life as an opportunity to grow in these areas, the stronger you’ll become.
I think many homeschool moms would agree that homeschool would be a challenge without a great measure of love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attributes are the foundation of a successful homeschool.
So, if you find yourself like me and need constant reminding to practice the fruit of the spirit, especially on those challenging days, print out Galatians 5:22-23 and hang it somewhere in your classroom.
Click here to download Galatians 5:22-23 for FREE!
If you have morning devotionals with your kids, don’t forget your worship music. There’s nothing like starting the day off singing and dancing. What tunes do we like? Newsboys! My boys also like tunes from “Our Daily Bread for Kids.” These tunes are available for download on Amazon. The songs are light, bubbly, and fun for kids—such excellent mood-boosters! Add them to your playlist and you’re good to go!
In addition, we also like to play light classical music as relaxing white noise while we do classwork. Classical music reduces stress levels, as well as boosts memory and creativity. In fact, university research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to students who heard the lecture with no music. So there ya go!
3. Essential Oils
That’s right! Lavender, frankincense, and peppermint are our favorite “go-to” oils. Just place a few drops into your oil diffuser and enjoy a calmer classroom. Why these three oils? Lavender is known for helping with relaxation and improving mood. Frankincense is a great “healer” oil that also helps support brain health. Lastly, peppermint oil improves focus and boosts energy.
It’s not 100 percent foolproof, but it makes a difference for us. In fact, sometimes my kids ask to be rubbed down with oils when they aren’t feeling well. I like to use coconut oil as a “carrier oil,” add a few drops of essential oils, and rub the mixture into the soles of their feet. I also found that these oils help with relieving allergy symptoms for my children—especially coughing and congestion. So give them a go in your classroom!
4. Early Finisher Activities
I purchase low-cost crafts and activities and place them into a bin for my kids. The purpose? To have “mom approved” items (quiet items) that keep them occupied should they finish their assignments early. I’ve discovered that if my child knows what to do after completing an assignment, he is less likely to interrupt me while I’m working with another child.
The Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot will be your bestest friend. Yes, I said “bestest!” Fill a plastic container with loads of coloring books, puzzles, art project kits, play foam (much better than Playdoh), and little odds and ends that you know your kids will love. Check out the recent goodies I picked up from Target and Dollar Tree!
The NASA activity books were given to me by a friend, but the rest of the items were new purchases I will add to my existing “early finisher” collection. As you can see, some of the items I purchased are consumable, like the paint sets, stickers, and coloring books. However, I try to ensure I include reusable items like puzzles, games, and the like, to save money.
5. A “Feelings Chart”
Checking in with your kids before the school day begins is a great way to avoid misbehavior during school hours. We’ve implemented the “Feelings Chart” in our home. After devotional, we gather around and I have each child point to a picture that best represents how they’re feeling. This method gives my children a chance to express themselves and have their needs met.
You can get a FREE copy of my “Feelings Chart,” here! This chart, as well as the “Fruit of the Spirits” chart, are new additions to my online store, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Be sure to follow my store to be the first to know when I upload new freebies!
6. Family Membership Cards
To your favorite museum, local zoo, learning center, or wherever! Family membership deals typically offer great admission discounts for up to one year. If you pay $150 for an annual family membership card to a museum, that typically costs $20 per person for admission, for a family of four you’ve already saved $10 after the second visit. The third visit, and any visit thereafter, are basically free for an entire year!
Even more? When you invest in family membership cards, you can use them to your advantage to plan field trips and family adventures during low-traffic hours. That means you’re more than likely to get the entire place to yourselves. Not to mention on those “off” days (that we all know we have), having a family membership card to the zoo or museum can be a sanity-saver! Just pack up the kids and go. No need to worry about admission costs.
7. A Timer
Or anything that will sound when it’s time to move on to the next lesson. I personally use the alarm setting on my tablet. I set it for the duration of the lesson, and it sounds to notify me to move on to the next lesson. The timer is not to be militant with time but serves as a gentle reminder to wrap things up.
Before I implemented this method, I would totally lose track of time and got stressed out when I learned it was later in the day than I’d initially thought. Even with a clock in the classroom, I sometimes forget to look at it when I’m in the swing of things. Having an audible signal is a great way to ensure I stay on track!
That’s it in a nutshell! I’ll spare you the outro this week. I want to know from you: What are your homeschool must-haves? Let us know in the comments below!