Be warned: this isn’t your Martha Stewart meets crunchy homesteader type of homeschool post (though I do day dream about being that one day…). This is real life. This is going to be all about some of my favorite things that help make my busy life as a homeschool-mom-who-wears-multiple-hats easier! This is what gets me 20 minutes of guilt free peace, these things get me a coffee with a slice of quiet, or a work out or even a shower some days. They help free space in my head, which is hot realty for any mom. Most of these aren’t just for homeschooling families, but they can work really well for us!
We have been using ABCmouse off and on since we started our homeschool journey over four years ago. We have taken a two year break from it because my oldest stopped using it as much, but I plan to get it again this summer for my youngest who will be a kindergartner in the fall. They have specific pathways for each level of each grade, slowly working with your child to help them understand the various concepts, or they can freely explore the site and listen to a variety of songs, play many different games and even read books. They have color pages, and your child can earn tokens that they can use to individualize their avatar, or their “room” on the site. This is a fairly cheap subscription at just under $8/month and goes through second grade currently.
Hp Instant Ink
Other homeschool moms and I are constantly raving about this service whenever someone even mentions printing something we flock to the post suggesting hp printers and the instant ink subscription service. For good reason too! I haven’t had to leave my home to purchase ink in years! They have tired plans that go from $3/ month for 50 pages, $5 for 100 pages, $10 for 300 pages all the way to $20 for 700 pages of printing in a 30 day period. There’s also a specific amount for each plan that will allow pages to roll over on the months that you print lightly and then you have them as extra free pages when you have a month that you go over your limit. I have the $10 for 300 pages a month and I never reach that amount! We do go over 100 pages through especially when I’m doing my batch printing of worksheets throughout the school year. Also, the cartridges last much longer than what you buy in the store, and they give you postage paid bags to send your old cartridges back in. I’ve had this subscription for almost 2 years, we consistently print over 100 pages a month and yet, I change my cartridges only twice a year. At this printing volume I had to buy ink from the store at least every two months and they cost $20 each! It’s also harder to recycle when you purchase at the store. I love the quality of the printers themselves, we bought our printer 5 years ago and have never had a problem with it. The only thing I’ve ever replaced on this was the cord, which was because we lost it during our move 4 years ago. This was worth the $99 for the printer and I gladly pay $10 for the ink each month. I don’t have to spend a single second thinking about ink. HP detects when your ink reaches a certain level and they just ship one out to you, and it’s well before you actually run out of ink too! I have a brand new box that has been on the shelf for almost a month because my ink isn’t completely out yet. When it’s empty, I have the ink ready to go! I’m never left empty handed in the middle of printing!
What’s better than buying toilet paper in bulk? School supplies! Sam’s club has great deals on Ticonderoga pencils, printer paper (they have a case by Member’s mark for $30 that lasts our family almost two years! My kids use this paper for all of their drawing and coloring needs too). I buy expo markers here, post it notes (I use these for work and for homeschool). We also bought a bunch of file folders here years ago and I always have some to share with others, or to replace mine as needed when the inevitable wear and tear happens. They have a neat book selection, especially during back to school time, I get our comprehensive curriculum books here for under $10. They have great work books for during the summer (bridging the last grade with their new grade), and even just fun books for kids to read can be found here. I’m always impressed with their selection! I find books and kits that I didn’t even know existed! Also, with kids home for breakfast, lunch dinner and a plethora of snacks, it’s really helpful to be able to stock up on good things for us to eat! Likewise, bulk coffee and wine?! I should lead with that, I bet I could convert almost anyone to join a whole sale store with bulk coffee and a wine!
Whatever curriculum I can’t find at Sam’s Club, I tend to buy from Amazon. So the free shipping is nice. But Prime video is what I’m going to talk about today. There are many different documentaries and educational cartoons available! You can find almost anything that pbs offers, but commercial free and on demand, and their amazon productions are formidable! These are especially nice for toddlers who need a little distracting while the bigger kids work. They offer different channels that you can subscribe to, among the many choices is curiosity stream which is always nice for the days when you’re cooped up inside (we used this a lot during that polar vortex at the end of January) or for sick days.
Netflix and Hulu
Hulu offers a lot of Universals Kids (Sprout) shows that my kids have grown up with. We also love Horrible Histories, which can be a little graphic, and has tons of bathroom humor, but everything they discuss actually happened, so in between the laughs and rude humor is a lot of learning and that right there is the key to my kid’s education! If he can laugh at something and still learn from it, we all call it a win! Sometimes it seems like Netflix removes a lot of educational shows, and then it feels like we hit the jack pot. It’s hit or miss. I love finding episodes of the Magic School bus to incorporate with our science lessons, and Monster Math is always a hit with younger kids learning numbers. You can find some really cool documentaries about Sea Life and the Oceans too, they are colorful and really well done, my kids can sit through these happily!
This is the one subscription we have that is just for Homeschoolers. It’s the Home School Legal Defense Association. This is a helpful defense to have, in this day and age when law makers and neighbors alike want to pick apart homeschooling, and people will make phone calls for no good reason. It’s not really common in Michigan, but there are some scary stories out there. For $11/month you know that any help you may need is just a phone call away and they are experts in homeschool law for each state.
What is your favorite homeschool ‘helper’? So you have a subscription that makes your life as a mom or a homeschooling mom just that much easier?! Let me know about it!
Until Next Time Friends