If you want to have a more enjoyable homeschooling experience, good planning and organization is essential. Even if you adopt a more eclectic style of homeschool, being organized in your routine and materials will prevent stress and aggravation in your day.
First of all, an important part of getting organized is making sure you are in compliance with your state’s homeschooling laws. Whether the state you live in is more restrictive or flexible will have a bearing on what kinds of records you keep.
If you live in a state with more stringent requirements, a homeschool planner may be essential so you can easily create monthly or yearly progress reports. These are also helpful if you’re keeping transcriptions. Of course, if you enroll your child in a virtual school or certain “in a box” curriculums, you can opt to have records kept for you. If you have a hard time with paperwork that may be a good option for your family.
Homeschool planners help you keep track of textbook and workbook pages covered, projects completed, unit studies you went over, field trips attended, books read, and daily attendance. You can purchase these in stores or online, or create your own. It can be simple or elaborate – a 3 ring binder can suffice if you’re so inclined, or you can search online for free homeschool planning worksheets. If your state requires more documentation, it might be best to go with a more elaborate system for your peace of mind.
Reducing clutter is important when you’re homeschooling. Books, workbooks, art materials, DVDs, computer software, etc can quickly get out of hand and spread all over the house. In order to minimize this, assess your situation and figure out what system makes the most sense for your family. If your kids are older you may want to keep their homeschooling supplies centrally located in the kitchen, study or living room, wherever you spend the most time doing school. If your kids are younger (or if you have toddlers who may get into things and damage them!), you may want to keep your supplies high up in the kitchen or on bookshelves, out of reach but easily accessible for you to get at them quickly.
A cabinet in the kitchen, a filing cabinet, a shelf, a large plastic container, etc – most of us already have these in our homes. You can organize art materials, paints, paper, pencils and erasers in smaller plastic tubs or containers with lids so everything stays together. If you have multiple kids homeschooling, you may want to have a color coded system so everyone knows where their stuff is. It might help to think like a preschool teacher – each kid has a cubby to store their gear.
As a homeschooling parent, you might find that a Sunday night review/planning session before you start your week means everything goes more smoothly. It’s good also to reassess every once in awhile so homeschooling stays enjoyable and rewarding. What’s working well? What’s not working? Simple adjustments can be very helpful in getting back on track.
Remember that learning can get messy! Relax your standards a bit and be ok with messies. Don’t hamper your kid’s excitement for learning by expecting perfection when it comes to cleanliness. One way to minimize the mess is to take learning outside or to the library. If everyone’s getting stir crazy and you need a burst of energy, head out for the day.