Well, who can believe that the 2020-2021 school year would be rife with so much change?! Whether it’s your state, county, district, or yourself choosing to educate your children from home (distance, hybrid, or homeschool), I wanted to share a list of supplies and materials I found useful for learning from home. While most of these items are aimed for the preschool to early elementary age range, there are many items that can be used with older kiddos as well.
Some basic tips for the upcoming school year include:
-Get yourself and your child organized. Once everyone understands the system of organization, it will promote independence in getting started and staying on task during the school day.
-Model a positive and flexible attitude. This is a unique situation for everyone, as we all navigate uncharted territory, and our kids are watching and learning how to respond to unexpected changes and inconveniences. Let’s set them up for handling future crises in their lives as best as possible.
-Be sure to embed outside time and play. Plan to eat lunch outside, go for a walk, take a bike ride, or simply read outside. Fresh air helps everyone’s mood!
-Since we are all spending more time with screens these days, be sure to model reading an actual book, exercising, talking on the phone, or otherwise spending time off our devices.
-Set your space up for ergonomic success, meaning propping up devices so they are at an upright angle in order to lessen strain on your neck or back, and have your children sit at a desk or table with their elbows resting on the table and feet touching the floor (if possible).
I wish everyone the best in the upcoming school year, and let’s all remember to give each other grace and remain flexible! What other tips do you have for students and their families?
— OT Mamacita
*Please note that the following recommendations include affiliate links, which means that at no cost to you, I will earn a commission (which will help with costs of running the site) if you click through and make a purchase*
First things first, you will want to get organized and set yourself up for success.
A supply caddy will help keep your markers, pencils, glue, and scissors organized. I like one with a handle that I can easily transport from space to space. The shallow trays are helpful for collecting papers or organizing your child’s “Do/Done” work, and a bonus is that they can be used to keep messy art projects or crafts within the tray! Buy an extra container of table salt and pour some of it into the tray and now you have a simple salt tray to practice writing. If you are facilitating pre-k or early elementary, a wall calendar with the weather and days of the week will help your kiddo learn calendar orientation, and a simple chore chart will help limit how much you nag them to do things during the day. And last but not least, a good planner. Make sure to write your plans in pencil so you can adjust your plans as you go. Bonus organization=meal plan in the planner! (Click on the picture to view the item)
A tablet stand and a lap desk will help position your child appropriately and ergonomically for learning. Bonus of the lap desk is that you can take your learning and lessons outside, to another room, or to another setting (like Grandma’s house or the park). A set of headphones will also help minimize extra noise for everyone. You can also try out an inflated seat cushion if your kiddo needs movement throughout the day or you want to make their seat a little more comfy (don’t forget to work in movement breaks throughout their day!). (Click on the picture to view the item)
I like to keep my kids’ school supplies separate from their “arts and crafts” supplies, because I find they stay in better shape if they are used while supervised (duh) and then your kiddo knows exactly where it’s at. So you will want some kid scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and blank paper all kept in a separate organized spot for “school.” I also found that last spring we used a good quality white board with a blank side and a lined side every single day. It saved on paper usage and helped us easily fix mistakes when practicing math or phonics. We used an old sock as an eraser. Check out the Smencils scented pencils for a fun way to motivate kids to write! (Click on the picture to view the item)
We use these Bentgo boxes for lunches and snacks and they are so handy! Sometimes I prep the food the night before and it stays fresh and air tight in the fridge. Also, keep a good water bottle nearby for your child. Lastly, check out the book “How to talk so little kids will listen” by Joanna Faber because it will revolutionize how you speak to and interact with your child on a daily basis! (Click on the picture to view the item)
I am a HUGE fan of letting kids have access to a lot of plain paper, scissors (supervised), markers, and glue because not only does it build fine motor, visual motor, and motor planning skills, it facilitates their creativity and you’d be amazed what your child will dream up. I also give my kids a lot of access (supervised and outdoors to minimize mess) to play doh, clay, chalk, and washable paints. The play doh and kinetic sand play build their fine motor strength and when they paint on a vertical surface (easel or taped to the wall) or draw with sidewalk chalk they are building their shoulder and arm strength which helps prepare their little hands for writing. Painting and using play doh and glue also engage your child’s sensory system. Craft kits, workbooks with pages to cut and paste or workbooks with colored tape are also fun to have on hand and use throughout the week. (Click on the picture to view the item)
Homeschool Preschool – Pre-K – Kindergarten
I am all for a good workbook to supplement or facilitate learning. The Big Preschool book not only is colorful and includes the alphabet, they embed mazes which build visual motor and fine motor coordination skills. A set of flashcards is handy for learning on the go or playing a game, and an abacus or other math manipulative type of material is SO handy for early math skill building. We found a tablet loaded with some educational games to be very handy last spring, as my preschooler found it to be engaging and interactive. I recently bought my kids a Kindle Fire since they are SO EASY to link with your amazon account and they come with an Amazon Free Unlimited plan for a year so we get access to 1000s of books, apps, and games. Plus, I love the parental controls. Lastly, some good old fashioned board or bead lacing will help develop and refine fine motor skills and coordination. (Click on the picture to view the item)