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7 Must Haves for Homeschool Organization

Ah, organization. I love it! If you've been around the blog at all, you'll know it's probably one of my favorite things to post about. That's because being organized helps me to feel prepared.

Organizing your homeschool


When my kitchen is organized, I can cook more easily. When my living room is organized, I feel more like sitting there with the family. When my bedroom is organized, I sleep better.

Lest you think me crazy, there really has been research done that indicates that having an organized work space puts you more in the frame of mind to get things done. So if you're struggling to get motivated, clean and organize your space first.

This organizing in order to be more productive can carry over into your homeschooling as well. If you're constantly struggling to find materials or clear off a place to sit for schoolwork or shuffling through the textbook to find the next lesson, you aren't going to be very successful. But when your ducks are in a row, you'll feel more prepared and motivated.

Organization isn't a one time deal. If you pop into my house at any given moment, you'll see that it's always a work in progress. Over time things get less and less organized, and if I don't stay on top of it, we're quickly back into chaos and disorder. I like to take school breaks to reorganize and clear out clutter. That way, when we're back into a regular school schedule, we'll be prepared.

There are a few things that I love when it comes to getting our homeschool organized. Even though I know we could probably make do if we had to, I wouldn't want to do without these seven "must have" tools for organizing our homeschool.

Tools for homeschool organization
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Bookshelves


Homeschool bookshelvesI honestly don't know what I'd do without all of my bookshelves. I have a huge set of shelves with three sections in my foyer. And then I have five more sets of shelves scattered around the house. We store not only books on those shelves. We store crafts supplies, puzzles, games, learning manipulatives, and more.

I try to purchase shelves that match, but I'll be honest. What is more important is that they are affordable since I use so many of them. Although I'm typically one to clean out and get rid of, I have a difficult time with getting rid of books. They just keep multiplying in our house.

I think my dream home would have a whole room that I could devote to a library, where all of my bookshelves could happily live. As it is, I'm wondering if any of the kids would be willing to give up their beds to create more room for bookshelves. Hmmm.

Homeschool organizing

Plastic drawers



I began to collect plastic drawer sets when I was contemplating using workboxes in our homeschool. We tried the workboxes for a brief time, but the system never really worked well for us. The plastic drawers, however, quickly became an organizational tool that I loved.

I use our plastic drawers to organize craft and school supplies. I have the drawers labeled, and they contain everything from scissors and tape to construction paper and markers. Every few months I take time to reorganize them because the supplies are often getting mixed up or used up.

Having all our supplies in these drawers has made it super easy to find things right when we need them instead of spending hours looking for the elusive glue stick that we need for that history lapbook.


Large plastic bins


We don't have a room that can be solely used as a schoolroom. Like many homeschool families, our "schoolroom" is a combination room. Ours includes our dining room table, bookshelves, another small table, file cabinets, bookshelves, a second refrigerator, pantry shelves, bookshelves, a schoolwork table, and did I mention bookshelves?

Organizing your homeschool suppliesMy older kids do most of their schoolwork at desks in their bedrooms, but the younger girls work on a small table in the "schoolroom." Because they are doing schoolwork in a room that has multiple uses, it's nice to be able to move their schoolbooks from place to place and get them out of the way as needed.

They use large plastic bins to hold their schoolbooks. These bins allow them to keep books organized and out of the way. It also makes their books easily portable, so if they want to sit in the living room or even outside in the hammock to do schoolwork, they can take their books anywhere easily.

I also use these large plastic bins to pack up each school year's materials when we are transitioning to the new school year. I put consumable books, workbooks, and notebooks into the bin, along with any printed files and lesson plans. I then label the bins by year and save them in the attic- just in case I ever need to produce documentation of homeschool work.

Small bins/baskets


While the large bins organize school books, we use the small bins or plastic baskets for school supplies. Each year when the school supplies go on sale, we restock things like pens, pencils, glue, and markers. As the kids have gotten older we've added things like rulers, protractors and compasses to our list. These small supplies are kept in the small bins.

Organizing school suppliesI love using the small bins for this purpose because, again, it makes things portable. Supplies can sit on the desk or table where someone is working or they can be carried easily from room to room.

Now, lest you think me the paragon of organization, I will say that every year, despite my good intentions and dire warnings to kids, we still end up a few months into school hunting for glue or markers when we're in the middle of a project. I cannot imagine where the supplies disappear to, but they rarely stay in their nice organized spot for more than a few months.

Oh well. Maybe one year we'll make it to Christmas with everyone's school supplies intact.


Binders


If you've been doing this homeschool thing for a while or even if your kids are coming to be homeschooled from being in a traditional school, you'll know that schoolwork means papers, lots and lots of papers. Sometimes this paperwork is in the form of a consumable workbook, and it's kept together easily in the workbook. But other times all of these papers are loose. And they can quickly take over if you don't keep them organized in some way.

Homeschool notebookingWe use binders for everything. Each child has one large binder- usually a 3 inch- that contains materials from his or her core curriculum. My oldest and my two younger girls all use My Father's World for their Bible/history/literature. The curriculum uses many notebooking type of activities. Charles uses Notgrass for his Bible/history/literature, and so he has paperwork for those three subjects. Besides the large binders, each child usually has a small- 1 inch- binder for other subjects, such as science, writing, or electives. I love to supplement any of our base curriculum with notebooking activities as well, so binders help to keep all of this paperwork organized.

Picking out binders at the beginning of the school year has become a family tradition. I've always picked out the least expensive binders since we use so many of them. But several years ago when we were shopping the Back to School sales, one of the children began pleading his case for decorative binders. We compromised with one large decorative binder. The rest of the binders we get are the plain, cheaper ones. The decorative binder has become affectionately known as the "personality binder." And they look forward to picking it out each year when we're stocking up on school supplies.

Dry erase calendar


While organizing all of our papers and supplies is important, organizing our schedule is just as important. Although I keep a Google calendar that uses a color coding system online, I sometimes forget to let the kids know of upcoming events. I started using a dry erase calendar for this purpose.

Organizing your scheduleEach month I write on the calendar the appointments and events that will affect the whole family or important individual events that might affect everyone. I don't put all of my personal items or notes from my calendar, though. The main purpose for the dry erase calendar is to keep the whole family aware of things that are going to affect the whole family. If things come up during the month- birthday parties, kids' work schedules, or dinner with friends- I add those to the calendar as well.

Let me just say here that for YEARS I tried to just share the Google calendar with people as soon as the kids began to use their own email. But no one will look at it online. No one. If you have family members who will actually look at links you send them, great. But, if not, this dry erase calendar is a must have. (Personal rant now over.)

Lesson planning system


Homeschool lesson planningAh, lesson plans. Every homeschool mom has her own idea of what they entail. Whether you're a pen and paper planner, a digital planner, or an online planner; whether you plan in detail or prefer broad, general plans- whatever your planning style, having a lesson planning system can keep your homeschool organized and help you to be successful in homeschooling.

I've confessed my addiction to homeschool planners and reviewed a variety of planners here. I've also created my own lesson planning system in Google Docs. I finally stopped looking for a planner that had everything I wanted and made my own instead. My book- Creating Homeschool Lesson Plans That Work- has the whole system in a step-by-step format, along with a link to my Google Docs planner for free.






Whether you're a die hard organizer like me or someone who likes a little "organized chaos," taking time to organize before your homeschool year begins can make the difference between frustration or smoothly run homeschool days.


Would you consider yourself an organizer? What's your favorite organizational tool for your homeschool? I'd love for you to share it!



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