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Tips for Organizing Your Homeschool

Stephanie: With younger children, use the same science, history, grammar to cut back on what needs to be checked. Now that I have mostly older ones, I give them work that is student directed. They do it, I check it. They each have a bucket for their books. I keep all the teacher's manuals in a cart with drawers. I have a file cabinet and put their finished spiral notebooks in that. I only keep one years worth except when it is high school time, then I keep everything for the 4 years as proof.

Sherry Bowlsby: Managers of Their Homes changed my life. Here is why:

  1. It shows you how you spend your time. (You begin by writing a list of all you do/would like to do in a day). Then, you write how long each of those tasks take. Then, you realize you are trying to do about 42 hours worth of stuff in 24 (and that doesn't include sleeping!)
  2. It suggests you would get MORE done if you would spend a small amount of time, DAILY on some activities. And, when you put it into practice, it DOES work!
  3. It gives lots of suggestions for making a schedule for your family. This gives the kids who aren't working with you an idea of what they SHOULD be doing instead of looking to you for direction. It also lets them know not to interrupt your time w/another child. Their time is coming.
  4. It gives lots and lots of encouragement!

Lorinda: Something I learned when I taught Montessori school was to have the work be "self-checking." I have my kids check their math. JD does about 5 problems and then checks as this seems to help him remember what he's done if something is wrong. He always get 100% because it's always correct when I get it.

Allie: One great thing I did was have them put all schoolwork for the day into a huge binder. It lasted all year. There were dividers with tabs for every subject. The newest paper always went in the back. They did that after they wrote everything...grammar, spelling, automatically went into the notebook. Then, I could check it at my leisure. It helped SO much, and by the end of the year, we had this huge record we could look back on.

Briva: Our first year I bought expandable file folder for each subject for daughter to put her papers in. Those went into a cardboard magazine file. It went okay, especially at the end of the year, I picked out her best work to save and put them in a portfolio. But from junior high on she's used composition or spiral bound notebooks that help keep the paper clutter down. For books what has really worked wonders is a vertical file. I use it horizontally as it fits in our bookcase shelf. Each slot is big enough for her book and notebook for each subject (there are 9 slots). It's also held up quiet nicely.

KinNC: I turned our hall coat closet into a school closet. It has "school" books, art supplies, shoeboxes of activities for the 3 year old. This closet already had shelves lining the sides, and I put a bookshelf in where the coats would have normally been hanging.

Jen - CA: We have a tall cabinet positioned right by our homeschooling table where I can reach for their workbooks, etc. from my chair. We have a round table. I decided this works better than square or rectangle because it seems easier to scoot over a little to help each child, turning their paper just a little so we can both see it well. I have one child sit on either side of me. I put a lot of thought into that what kind of table I wanted. In the cabinet we put the stuff we don't use as much up high. I have two plastic drawer organizers that you can get at Target. They make three different sizes and with a choice of colors, white, primary colors or girly colors (lavender, pink, etc.) And I purposefully chose them because the drawers pull all the way out, so you can take them out and set them on the table. I put math manipulatives in one, markers and crayons in another, art supplies in another and basic supplies in another (extra pencils, staples, etc.). Depending on the amount of art supplies you have, you can get more for that or larger boxes of any sort. I positioned one of the shelves in the cabinet so that it has very little space between it and the one above it. I use that space for paper. Plain white paper, construction paper, etc. Or you can use those office trays on a larger shelf. That took up too much space for me.

KinNC: Glue your maps to poster board, and then cover with clear contact paper. Store them behind the couch and pull them out whenever you need them. (You can use Vis-a-Vis markers on the contact paper.) This works great if you're short of space/ wall space and want your home to look like "home" instead of "school".

D Smith: I have two four-five drawer plastic units on casters. One is in the living room and is easily accessible ("self-serve") to the kids. It has a drawer for puzzles, 1 for coloring books, 1 for drawing paper (construction and recycled), and the top 2 narrow drawers hold some of my son's LEGO creations that he doesn't want the baby to get. The other unit is in my room because it's supposed to be "hands-off" to kids (or permission only.) It has basic office/teacher supplies in the top drawer (things I use like my scissors, stapler, pencil sharpener, paper clips, etc.), various papers in the second drawer (primary lined paper, grid paper, nice construction/art paper, etc.). Then, I have a drawer for mainly science materials (microscope, magnifying glass, thermometer, compass, etc.); a drawer for misc. manipulatives and blank 3x5 cards, alphabet stamps and stamp pads (and whatever else); and an art supply drawer that holds tempera paints, brushes, drawing pencils, and things like that.

I have a couple of bookshelves of school books and references. One is out in the living room for easy kid-access. The other is in my room and consists of books/workbooks that I mainly use, or ones I will use later in the year. I have the cardboard magazine holders on top with various labels and contents. One has my mail-order catalogs, another has references that I'm currently using (so I don't have to search for them on the shelf), and the others hold the workbooks/journals that my kids are currently using (1 holder for each kid). Ideally, those would be in a place where my kids could access their own materials (and put them away), but we don't have the space at the moment. My kids each have their own "school box." They each have their own metal lunch box with their own mechanical pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, and erasers. So, before we start any lessons, I just tell them to go and get their school box and they have just about everything they need for any lesson I throw at them.

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