It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down and back-to-school time is just around the corner. Want to set yourself up for success? Psychologists have found that a student’s home study environment can have a significant effect on his or her grades. Information retention, work productivity, and assignment quality increase when pupils study in a space that’s comfortable, familiar, and organized.
Creating a home study area that promotes a productive and comfortable learning environment can help keep students of any age motivated and focused, but it’s especially important for teens. Not only do high school courses become increasingly difficult, but there is also more homework that needs to be done, so their study space should have as few distractions as possible.
The same elements that factor into the design of a home office can be applied to a homeschool classroom. When planning your home study area, there are some basic essentials that every high schooler needs. It can be helpful for homeschoolers to have extra items for studying certain subjects, too. Here are our recommendations.
- Desk Chair – At our house we’ve all switched over to mesh chairs. They’re a must for keeping comfortable when working in a warm climate. We used to always buy ours at Staples or Office Max, but then we found the AmazonBasics mesh office chair. It has a mid-height contoured back, padded seat, it’s black so it won’t show the dirt, and it’s a good quality chair for a relatively low price. The arm rests are plastic, so you won’t have the problem of kids picking at the soft foam padding. You don’t even have to attach the arm rests if you don’t want to. It’s a great desk/office/computer chair! This will be our go-to chair from now on.
- Desk/Table (consider getting a DeskCycle, too, to work off extra energy!)
- Bookcase/Shelf Unit (we love the MaxSteel 12-tier wire media rack)
- Desk Lamp – The OttLite’s energy-efficient, low heat, natural daylight illumination reduces glare and eyestrain while letting you see details and colors more clearly. (I don’t know about you, but I can’t work well without natural lighting. OttLites are also great if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder.) This 13-watt folding task lamp features a unique fold-up design with multi-position shade, swivel base, and handle for easy portability. It’s a cute little lamp for homework, reading, or craft projects. Great for dorm room, bedroom, office, etc. With its compact footprint, this lamp fits easily on small desks, night stands, workstations, piano, etc. The lamp adjusts in several ways – parallel to the desktop, straight up to illuminate larger areas, or attach it to the wall to save space. It turns on automatically when you flip it open, and turns off when you close it. OttLites come in many different styles.
- Computer – look for back-to-school sales on desktop PCs
- Printer/Ink Cartridges – Printers also serve as home copy machines. Color laser copies have come down in price, but the toner costs a lot more than inkjet cartridges.
- Power Strip/Surge Protector/Battery Backup – If you’re going to get a power strip or surge protector, you may as well get one with a battery backup. They don’t take up much extra space and believe me, if you’re in the middle of writing a long research paper and the power goes out, you don’t want all your work to instantly disappear! APC has long been the leading brand of uninterruptible power supply. During a power outage, the APC UPS battery backup and surge protector provides just enough backup power to give you time to save your work and shut down. It will also protect your sensitive electronics from power surges due to lightning strikes.
- Charging Station – Keep your desk or nightstand organized and charge your phone, iPad, Kindle, etc. at the same time. This bamboo charging stand transforms a chaotic and messy charging hub into an elegant accessory. It will fit all your devices in their cases – even a thick Otterbox! – unlike others that only have narrow slots. It even has a little compartment for stashing your USB drives.
- USB Flash Drive – An ultra-durable flash drive like the Samsung BAR Plus can be a big help for saving and transporting project files and word documents. This one has a rugged metal case with key ring to prevent loss. You can even spill liquid on it and won’t have to worry about losing any of your precious work. It’s a USB 3.1 with backwards compatibility (USB 3.0, USB 2.0). Available in 32, 64, 128, 256 GB.
- Pens – black or blue ink
- #2 Pencils – for standardized tests
- Pencil Sharpener – a small portable one is fine
- Mechanical Drafting Pencil – This set of .5/.7/.9 mm metal mechanical pencils is ideal for use with rulers and templates for writing, drawing, and technical drafting.
- Erasers – If you have fidgety fingers, here are the best erasers for you! Faber-Castelle Kneaded Erasers are soft like putty, so you can mold them into any number of shapes from cubes to snails. Not only that, they erase cleanly leaving no marks or eraser crumbs. The kneaded erasers come in a plastic case, which helps to keep them from drying out. In addition, we love the Magicdo Erasers, which also erase cleanly and come in different ergonomic shapes for easy gripping. With their concave spiral thumb-holds in the center, these erasers remind me of worry stones.
- Lined Paper – 8 1/2 x 11″ lined notebook paper for written assignments
- Plain Paper – 8 1/2 x 11″ White Paper for drawing and printing on
- 3 x 5 Index Cards (lined and plain) – for taking notes or making flash cards
- Graph Paper Notebook – Get a set of spiral-bound graph-ruled notebooks for general graphing, drawing, etc. Keep 100 pages of math and science notes in one convenient graph paper notebook. Or the 3-hole punched sheets tear out easily for transferring to a 3-ring binder.
- Spiral Notebooks
- 3-Ring Binders
- Tabbed Dividers
- Post-It Tabs
- Pocket Folders
- File Folders – regular or hanging, depending on the type of filing cabinet.
- File Cabinet – File cabinets come in many different styles to blend in with any decor. There are metal, wood, plastic, wicker, linen, cardboard, hanging, lateral and even mobile file cabinets! Norris The Road Warrior Travel Filing Cabinet looks like a tactical case but offers the storage power of a traditional file cabinet.
- File Boxes – Cardboard file boxes are cheap and they work just as well as a heavy metal filing cabinet. We use them for storing all kinds of assorted school, art and craft supplies, and have them stacked up to 8 boxes high. (Not recommended if they’re packed full of heavy workbooks or papers!) If you have a couple of file boxes sitting on the floor next to your desk or in your closet, no problem. But if you’re going to stack them high, they’re best for things you don’t need to access regularly, since you have to pull a box out of the stack to lift the top up. (Unless you get the Bankers Box Storage Drawers!)
- Glue Stick
- Clear Tape
- Paper Clips
- Daytimer/Assignment Book
- Scientific Calculator – The Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator is the best-selling calculator that every math student needs. This all-purpose calculator is sturdy, functional, and durable. It’s ideal for middle school, high school, college, graduate school, and beyond. Approved for using with the ACT and SAT tests. Buy one now and it will serve you well for years, or pass it down to younger siblings. (See also the TI-84 Plus COLOR Graphing Calculator – it has a high resolution color screen and it even comes in a variety of fun colors!)
- Geometry Set (set square, protractor, compass, ruler, etc.) – You’ll need these assorted mathematical tools for geometry and other subjects where you draw graphs and shapes; e.g. science and geography, even drafting and art. This Ferocious Viking set is a good value, and it comes in a handy pouch with viking logo!
- Microscope – The Amscope compound microscope comes with full optical glass elements, metal framework, 360 degree rotatable monocular head, and LED illumination. It offers five magnification settings: 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X and 1000X. It’s an ideal microscope for science students from elementary to high school – and it’s the same quality as those used in schools and colleges. Excellent value! You can also get a complete Student Microscope Set that comes with the microscope, slides, book, and other accessories.
- Telescope – This beginner’s refractor telescope comes with everything you need to get started, and it only takes ten minutes to set up. It has a 400mm focal length, 70mm aperture, and fully coated glass optics for clean, crisp views. The scope features a compact and portable design with an adjustable tripod and carry bag, perfect for the on-the-go sky gazer. Take it to star parties, camping, school, or out in your own backyard. Includes smartphone adapter and Bluetooth camera remote. Perfect telescope for amateur astronomers to explore the stars!
- SEE ALSO: STEM Supplies for Back to School