Homeschool Supplies: How a Laminator is Like a Baby Wipe Warmer

There are two kinds of new homeschoolers. First, there are those who are fired up to get going on this adventure and ready to stock their homes with all of the tools for success. And I mean all. If you have been googling the best in-home laminating system, you are this mom.

In contrast, there are those who have been backed into this gig by a failing public school system and just need to know where the online supply list has been uploaded, if they can buy used, and if there's a coupon. If you have gone into the attic to retrieve your Speak-and-Spell, and you don’t mind that the computerized voice sounds like a drunk airline passenger after a 12 hour layover, you might be this second type of mom.

Either way, you have probably wondered, “What supplies must I have to homeschool?” Well, I'd say kids, for starters. Maybe a home of sorts, else I'm not sure you can call it a home school. Though it is possible to homeschool in the dentist’s waiting room. Just know that people stare and ask stupid questions.

Some people might add that paper, pencil, vinegar & baking soda, and a few goats are the primary homeschool necessities. But others would counter that this is the twenty-first century and we no longer need such prehistoric utensils as these. Instead we opt for all things digital; YouTube is the neat-freak mom's science lab.

Your Homeschool Supplies Match Your Homeschool Style

What you think you need depends on what kind of homeschooling you intend to do. It's like when you became a mom. The things you bought in preparation for your baby foreshadowed what kind of mommying you were going to be doing. Did you buy luxurious cloth diapers to pamper your baby’s delicate bottom? If so, you will likely feel it necessary to purchase each child his own oak office desk and filing cart, a motorized globe, a reading center rug, and yes, that amazing laminator you will use to protect every single piece of refrigerator art your prodigy produces.

However, if the idea of shaking the smelly brown contents of that 800 thread count nappy over the toilet at 3 a.m. seemed like complete insanity, you might be the mom trolling garage sales and dumpsters for gently used furniture and vintage scientific calculators circa 1995 for your homeschool.

What You Actually Need to Care for a Baby

So who has it right, the shopaholic or the cheapskate? Both. Which means that when those split personalities come together they make for some happy realistic middle ground that is hard to achieve until experience and trial and error takes its course. 

For instance, when my twins were born, we had a wipe warmer to take the scream inducing chill out of the 47 daily butt cleaning episodes. We also had a microwaveable nipple sterilizer, a creepy heartbeat sound machine, and a vibrating-singing-playpen that tripled as a changing table and infant hammock. We were truly amazed as we pondered just how the human race survived before baby-cams and diaper genies. If someone made and marketed a product for infants, we thought we had to have it to get this parenting thing right. And we did a pretty good job with our two precious boys. I mean, they lived?!

And then... I had my third baby boy during a hurricane evacuation. Two days later, a tree fell in our house with the bulk of it falling right into the new baby's room. There was no going home from the hospital. We camped at various relatives’ homes. And in the weeks that followed, I learned there are really only two things you need to keep an infant alive and happy: clean diapers and a breast.

He turned out just fine, mostly. The simplicity was eye opening. There is so much stuff we simply didn’t need. And not having it was freeing. He never knew he almost had a private suite with musical projector and handmade pillows. Perhaps he didn’t enjoy cold wipes on his hiney at 3 a.m., and that might still account for his occasional temper flares over silly things, but he did not miss what the baby stores said he needed.

The Lure of Buying School Supplies

Still, it is fun to buy supplies, isn't it? Nerd moms like me love shopping for homeschool goodies:

  • curriculum
  • new books
  • maps
  • science kits
  • fresh pencils
  • dry erase markers
  • color coded organizer things on wheels

When I first set our globe on the table in our homeschool room, it was rapturous. I thought, "Look at us. We are homeschooling! See our globe?!" I could feel my kids’ IQs rising with this visualization of learning.

Keep it Simple and Relevant

But buyer beware! If you are shopping for an activity you have yet to actually try, you can be easily influenced into junk you do not need. There is hypnotic euphoria in Hobby Lobby. You can get lost in a colorful online catalog and become prey to the traps set by clever marketing. Then before you know it, you have bought a life-sized human skeleton and Gray’s anatomy to teach a second grader how important it is to eat vegetables.

Be discerning in your quest for homeschool supplies. You certainly don’t want to add to your workload to justify buying something expensive and useless. That easel and watercolor set may look astute in the corner of the dining room. But if you do not have the time to research art lessons or a child who even wants to learn to paint, well, basically, you bought the equivalent of a meat grinder for a vegetarian.

In closing, my word to new homeschool moms is this: Enjoy the beginnings of your new career and family lifestyle. Do not let me ruin your shopping enthusiasm. Buy that laminator if you simply must have it (and you have a coupon). However, I urge you to take it slow. Find out just what kind of homeschool you and your kids are going to create and then buy the supplies you actually need to make that happen. It may be a laminator. But more than likely, your homeschool can get along just fine without one and dozens of other tempting school supplies.

Just because someone produces an ingenious product doesn’t mean it serves a purpose for you. Just because the homeschool family next door swears by it doesn’t mean it is the only way or even a great way. Just take it from a somewhat experienced homeschool mom (me)

  • who bought the counting bears when all he wanted to count was the rocks he had found in the backyard
  • who has an entire set of Harry Potter books that not one of my avid readers is slightly interested in reading
  • who bought the expensive math curriculum CDs before discovering that her kids would much rather read the lesson quietly and move along on their own

Who knew!? But at least I didn’t buy the laminator. 

Jennifer Cabrera

About the Author

Jennifer Cabrera is the witty writer at Hifalutin Homeschooler, a blog that aims to offer comedic relief to homeschool moms and dads. She is the mother of three boys, ages 8 and 12 year old twins.As a Physician Assistant/MPH graduate of Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Jennifer unexpectedly fell into homeschooling after butting heads with the public school system and was amazed to discover it was everything she never knew she always wanted to do. Her writing pokes fun of the highs and lows of homeschooling. She is proud and opinionated about homeschooling her uncommonly brilliant boys. Because the opposite of common is remarkable. And cafeteria food sucks.

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