Category Archives: Organization

How to Evaluate Your School Year

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I don’t know about you, but we are almost through the school year. Yay! At the end of the school year it is a good idea to evaluate what worked, and what didn’t.

Here are three questions to ask yourself at the end of the school year. These questions will help you evaluate your school year, let you get a good idea of how it went, and what changes you may need to make.

  1. Are the kids enjoying school? Yes, homeschooling is still school and can’t always be fun, but are your kids enjoying themselves? At all? If not then you may need to talk to them and revaluate how your school year is going. If they are then woohoo! Keep on keeping on J .
  2. How is your routine? Are the days all the same length? Are some days longer or shorter than others? Take a look at your routine and see if any changes need to be made. We had the same school schedule for years, and I had NO intentions on changing it. Until. I had too. I realized that something with my routine was no longer working for my older children, so we tweaked it and things have been going much smoother. Routines are made to add structure to your day. They are not made to be a slave too. So, make your routine work for you if something seems off.
  3. How is the curriculum working? Do you love your curriculum? Do the kids enjoy it? If not, now is the perfect time to evaluate what is and isn’t working with the curriculum. Maybe look online, or ask a friend if you can try out something they have. Don’t purchase anything else without looking at it in person. You may be surprised that what you have isn’t that bad, or you may fall in love with something new. Once you have seen it, and maybe tried it out, make the purchase!

Semester revaluations are great for finding what is working and what is not working in your homeschool. It is a time to evaluate your day, your student’s enjoyment, and your curriculum. Don’t feel obligated to keep on the same way if something’s not working, try something new and start your next year off fresh!

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a  Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

Homeschooling Multiple Grades

Homeschool Multiple Ages

When I first began homeschooling, I was terrified about homeschooling multiple grades. My middle (at that time my youngest) was only two, but the thought of her being in preschool and teaching my oldest at the same time made me cringe. Looking back, I can laugh because I know that preschool isn’t difficult, and teaching Kindergarten is nothing like teaching 4th grade but at the time, it really stressed me out!

As a homeschool parent I am sure at some time you will be homeschooling multiple grades. Teaching more than one grade does not have to be stressful. There are resources and curriculums out there that can help you as well as tips from those who have been homeschooling multiple grades for years.

When it comes to homeschooling multiple grades, the first thing you are going to want to do is combine your children for as many subjects as possible. Bible, History, and Science can all be taught together as a family. Curriculum like My Fathers World, Mystery of History and Apologia are geared towards homeschooling multiple grades and can make it easier to combine your children.

Another popular method for homeschooling multiple grades is unit studies. Unit studies are fairly teacher intensive but can be done rather inexpensively. A unit study is where you learn about one topic for a set amount of time. An example may be horses. You can teach the history of horses, the anatomy of horses, read books about horses, and watch documentaries about horses. The older children would study the topic more in-depth, while the younger children got a basic overview.

Another thing to consider when homeschooling multiple grades is the level of teacher prep work and cost. Purchasing curriculum that has the planning already done for you will require a lot less prep work then creating your own unit study.  However, prepackaged curriculum will be pricier than making your own. Weigh your options and choose the method that will work best for your family.

Two subjects where you would want to keep your children separate are Math and Language Arts. If you have multiple children, it may be a good idea to purchase curriculum where the children can work on these subjects as independently as possible. Many parents enjoy computer-based curriculums like Teaching Textbooks or Switched on Schoolhouse. There are workbook-based options like Alpha Omega Publications and Christian Light Education that are also fairly independent.  I have found having my children work on these subjects at the same time helps me teach multiple grades. I can go back and forth between them as they need me and both are focused on the same topic.

Homeschooling multiple grades may take a little bit of preplanning but seeing your children work and learn together is worth the hard work. I have also been amazed through the years how much the younger ones pick up on while learning alongside their older siblings. For more information about homeschooling multiple grades as well as help for scheduling your day I recommend this article from Fruitful Families.

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

Finding a Homeschool Space

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I have been homeschooling for close to 5 years. Our first few years we did not have a homeschool room. Once baby number 3 was added to our small home, we decided more space was in order. We added on a nice size homeschool/playroom, and since then have had a designated homeschool space.

We do not “do” school only in our room. The kids learn everywhere! However, having the extra space to store our homeschool stuff, and to be able to put our educational posters and the like has been nice.

Many families do not have the space to have a designated homeschool room. Even though, they may want one. However, with a little creativity you can turn an area of your home into the homeschool space you desire.

Here are some ideas for finding a homeschool space:

Dining Room: We used our dining room for school for years before we added on to our home. You can find some fairly creative organizing tips on Pinterest to get the most use out of a small space. If you rarely use your dining room, consider converting it into a space for your homeschool.

Basement or Attic: I have friends who have been able to convert unused attic or basement pace in their homes to nice areas for school.

Extra Bedrooms: If you have two children of the same gender and are in a 3-bedroom home, consider putting them together and making the extra bedroom homeschool space.

Porches: Our homeschool room came from a front porch we rarely used. For a small price, we were able to convert that front porch into our homeschool room. If your home has a patio or porch that is not used, consider looking into what it would cost to utilize that extra space.

Homeschool rooms are not a necessity, I know many families who do not have one. However, if you have been wanting to find a space for your homeschool, I encourage you to look into these options, maybe one of them could work for you!

 

Misty Bailey is a Christian wife and homeschool mom. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Organizing a Homeschool Portfolio

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Whether or not your state requires homeschool assessment it is a good idea to keep a record of your child’s schoolwork each year. One way to do this is by keeping a portfolio. Homeschool portfolios can be as in depth or simple as you want to make them.

Step 1: Choose a binder large enough to hold your child’s work. For many this will need to be at least 1 ½”. If you are not going to be including Math or Grammar samples due to having them somewhere else (like a workbook), you can get by with a little smaller.

Step 2: Purchase tabbed dividers and filler paper to organize your child’s homeschool portfolio.

Step 3: Decide how to organize the portfolio. Are you going to divide it up by subject, month, season, or quarter? How you divide it up is ultimately up to you.

Step 4: Include important documents like your homeschool approval letter (if you have one), a list of curriculum used, and a sample school calendar. This should all go right in the front of the portfolio.

Step 5: Start putting in samples of work. Many parents only put in their child’s best work, but that is not always a good idea. You want to see a progression throughout the year, so it is okay to put in work that is “so/so”. Good ideas to include in the portfolio are Math drill sheets, grammar tests, book reports, science experiment papers, artwork, History notes, and any other item you deem important. Don’t forget about field trips! I always grab a pamphlet from every place we go and put it in the kid’s portfolios. Field trips are learning experiences too.

When it comes to organizing a homeschool portfolio, don’t stress! Homeschool portfolios do not have to be difficult or overwhelming. Make them fun! Let your kids pick what they want to keep. You may be surprised what they deem important enough to hold on too. Also, snap a few pictures throughout the year and at the end place them in the portfolio with their end of the year assessment (if required). I am always surprised how much my children have grown from the first of the year to the end. Homeschool portfolios are supposed to highlight your child’s work, but they can also serve as a “yearbook” of sorts. One day you may be looking through them with your grandkids remembering all the fun that homeschooling was that year.

Misty Bailey is a Christian wife and homeschool mom. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Simple Tip

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Sometimes the easiest things become the biggest stumbling blocks to a smooth school day.  “Where’s my pencil?”  “I need an eraser.”  “I can’t find any notebook paper.”  As homeschool families we LIVE in our homes far more than most.  The piles of busy-ness can easily become a cluttered mess.  Spending just a bit of time to create a homeschool supplies area will bring smoothness to your days that will bless immensely!  Probably it has been on your to-do list for months.  If so, may this be just the encouragement you need to create your spot today.

No doubt you already have all you need to create a homeschool supply nest.  A desk, book-case and/or filing cabinet dedicated to homeschool necessities easily prevent the time waste of searching.   The most important resource:  a simple pencil box and a sharpener in a readily accessible place.  This will prevent the greatest number of school day delays.  The contents of the ‘nest’ vary with the ages, courses and interests of your students.  Honestly, for me, it usually requires three or four consecutive days of “Where is….” before I catch on to the need to update the supply area, but the relief is immediate.

 Some timeless necessities include: 

  • An age-appropriate dictionary and encyclopedia; perhaps a thesaurus.  (I know Wikipedia and spell-check are popular but…  Also, sometimes the computer simply offers more distraction than assistance. )
  • That wonderful pencil box mentioned earlier (with a sharpener)
  • Basic art/project supplies such as:  scissors, markers, tape, glue and colored pencils
  • Math supplies:  protractor, compass and scientific calculator
  • Whiteboard and supplies for the teacher to draw out some of the concepts

Don’t let those ‘little foxes’ throw a wrench into your school days.  Avert the difficulty before it pops up.