Oh, the bane of our existence! OR the cause of swoon – worthy ogling of Staples’s shelves! Whether your mantra is “I know it’s here somewhere” or you’re an everything-in-its-place, color coded planner junkie, one thing’s clear: In order to manage an effective homeschool, maintaining a sense of order is key. Here are a few practical ways to preside over your family’s educational and extracurricular lives while keeping clutter and paperwork at bay.
You need a plan
Kudos if you’ve already got a system in place! For those of you who don’t, you’ll be surprised at how very helpful a planner, calendar and/ or a checklist system is, once you establish what feels natural to you. For littles, a weekly chore chart system, complete with large pictures and easily checked- off boxes works well AND incorporates the kids pitching in with house work. For the older set, a color coded dry erase monthly calendar in a highly trafficked area has proven its efficiency many times in our family. A quick glance at the shelves of any office supply mega store and you’ll be in heaven plotting out who-gets-what-color on the weekly or monthly family calendar! Since I’m a huge planner devotee, I also carry a pocket organizer in my bag. The boxes on the calendar are just big enough to jot down everyone’s commitments. If you’re more into scheduling digitally, there are many apps to add to your phone that will keep your family’s appointments and deadlines in one place. Streamlining is vital, regardless as to the tool you use.
You need records
Test records, children’s portfolios, year to year files, that is. Have a space in a file drawer or magazine holder for your school year and your long-term records and plans. Depending on what your state requires, you may need to save portfolios or grade level files for longer than the school year. Be sure to have a designated space for this. And consider saving reports you’ve sent to your district in digital form in more than one file in case of computer error.
You need a command center
Do you regularly have to go somewhere else to get what you need to accomplish? Or, worse yet, are you hunting down a workbook, bill, art supply or calculator? Ask yourself if items can be stored closer at hand, or if it would be practical to have duplicate items kept at the task location.
You need to simplify housework
Declutter and free yourself from “stuff.” That chore chart system? Let it help you narrow down household routines or stop you from getting off-task in your housework.
Streamline the kitchen. Gain counter and drawer space by paring down the number of gadgets you own and don’t – or rarely – use. Get rid of extra cookbooks that haven’t seen the light of day since Christmas 1995. Throw out that horrid assortment of fake-Tupperware and purchase a few matching sets that stack and match. (I bought several at the Dollar Tree for a super minimal investment! ) Make your kitchen kid-friendly. If you want them to fix their own breakfast, put the cereal or other breakfast items where they can reach them.
You need to whip your homeschool room into shape
Wow, there are so many fun ways to do this! At a very low cost, you can purchase colorful and practical crates, bins, magnets, dividers, stands, racks, pins, plastic page protectors, binders, magazine holders and more! Tackle paperwork now instead of later. We homeschool moms have a herculean task managing paper. Have one location for library books such as a labeled library basket. Remind the children to always return books/videos to that location. Tape to the basket a list of the library materials your family has checked out to be sure you have all the books upon your return trip. Give each child his/her labeled book basket which will contain texts, workbooks, papers and supplies as well. Teach the children to manage their paperwork. And regularly walk them through the purging/organizing process. As for your home library? Alphabetize your fiction, categorize your history by era and your science by topic. At one point, we owned just over 6,000 books. Your family may scoff at the “unnecessary” time you are “making” them spend on categorizing. But they’ll come to realize it’s essential when someone is looking for The Red Badge of Courage or Washington’s farewell address or animal skeletal systems and voila! Found immediately!
There’s not a magic formula to manage your home and your homeschool. Organization is individualistic and creative and just one way to help us function efficiently. I wish you many “a-ha” moments when you find what works well for you and your home!
Author: Chris Capolino
A bit about me? Wife, mom, writer, teacher, traveler, party giver, encourager. I’m a freelance writer who contributes to a variety of digital and print media. And I love blogging all things family, faith, travel, homeschool, crafts at my home on the web, Campfires and Cleats
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