The school supply list at Cottonwood is short: a sketchbook & pencil. In self-directed education, the world is our classroom and each experience presents an opportunity for learning. Having a sketchbook and pencil always on hand makes it possible to engage more deeply using the simplest tools. We can sketch, label, reflect and paste – each creating a record of experience and documentation of learning. We never know when we will be inspired to draw or collect so it is important that our sketchbooks are accessible. I ask parents to ensure that each night the sketchbook and pencil is in a ziplock bag (to protect it from rain & water bottle leaks) and in the backpack ready for the next day. I ask that the bags only contain a pencil. Pencil can be erased which makes it a tool of endless possibility. The sketchbook of choice is one that is spiral bound so the pages can lay flat, unlined, and hard covered. I too carry a sketchbook and pencil and love flipping though my kids’ books in the evening. I get to see my son’s letter practice which he is trying to contain all to a single page and my daughter’s beautiful lines that have yet to reflect realism. Whether your child is in conventional school or not, I challenge all to create the habit of carrying a notebook and pencil. I think you will be surprised at how it can slow us down and center us in the moment.