Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 26 – Getting Organized for the New Homeschool Year. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a new college graduate!
This is the second post in the Back To “Home” School blog series, now also included in our Homeschool Tidbits series. Last week, I gave some advice to new homeschooling mothers, and today, we’ll be discussing how to get organized.
So you bought your curriculum and you went school supply shopping… now what? If you’re like most homeschooling parents, you’re probably hoping to find a way to keep your materials both organized and accessible. I’m not claiming to be any sort of organization guru, but I like to think I have at least managed to keep our homeschool materials in some order. Today I’m going to share some tips to help you stay organized all year!
I am always working on creating and perfecting a system that works for us, constantly tweaking as the need arises. I’ve long thought that workboxes looked like the perfect way to keep our daily work organized, but up until recently I never had the space to make it work. Now that I have my new bookshelves, I have been able to put something together that I believe will work for everyone.
This year I’m only homeschooling one child – my 13-year-old daughter. But when I had to juggle more than one child, this is how we did it.
My youngest has six drawers in which I will put her daily assignments. Each drawer will have a designated subject. and once she’s completed the assignment for each drawer she is done for the day. This system has worked well for us – and we’ve continued to use it for the last 2 years.
My twins had a similar system, though to save space we used crates with file folders. Each folder is essentially a “box” with an assignment to complete. This works great with multiple children, of different ages. The file folders worked great for older students that were more independent.
One thing I am always asked is how to organize all of the papers that go with Build Your Library’s curriculum. We keep our work in binders for the most part. As we complete daily assignments, they file them behind the appropriate tabs in their binders. The twins had 3 binders – a history/language arts binder, a science binder, and a Book of Centuries timeline binder.
I keep all of our books that we’re studying for the year on their own shelves so that everything is easily accessible. Each year’s worth of books (or month, if we’re doing a unit study) is on one or two shelves for easy access. There is nothing more stressful than trying to hunt for a book you need the night before you need it!
On another shelf in our dining room is where I keep the bulk of our school supplies.
I have two lazy-susans where we keep things like pens, pencils, color pencils, glue sticks, etc. in recycled cans. Beneath that (not shown) is where I keep a third 3-drawer-bin for drawing paper, lined paper, and other paper odds and ends.
Lastly, I have two composition notebooks that will serve as my lesson planners. This is where I write down our daily assignments, make notes about when we need to borrow materials from the library (as well as when things must be returned), or note special materials I need to pick up from the store to complete science experiments or art projects. I write out their daily checklists in pencil, and then the night before I’ll set up their assignments in their “workboxes” for the following day.
My Homeschool Tidbit video will only include this portion of the article. I am only homeschooling one child this year – my 13-year-old daughter who will be in 8th grade. I recently shared a series of other videos detailing what books and materials we’ll be using this year if you are curious.
But as to staying organized – it’s a lot easier with just one student! Last year it occurred to me that my daughter worked better when she was comfortable on the couch. She hated the transition from morning basket time on the couch to working at the kitchen table. So we now basically do what I lovingly call “Couch-schooling.” I load up our rolling utility cart with all the books and materials we are using, along with my laptop and then we can do all of her work from the living room couch.
This makes things easily accessible for both of us, meaning we’ll actually get to it because we don’t have to leave the room to find something. I actually have two of these carts. One I keep for my BYL work, currently full of materials for potential unit studies I want to write. The other is dedicated to homeschool materials. If I had the space, I’d probably buy a third for art supplies. I just find them infinitely useful! Sarah recently brought hers home from her college dorm, and it is just sitting in the garage… apparently waiting for me to steal it…
One of my favorite purchases, after my utility cart, is my bamboo rotating art supply organizer. I own two of these too, one in my office and one for school things. As many homeschoolers do, we seem to have more pens and pencils than anyone could possibly use. I love pens, and we just always have lots of writing and art materials around. I use these to keep track of them so that we can always find something to write with. Glue sticks, scissors, bookmarks, extra erasers and other useful items also find a home in here.
Another thing I always keep in supply are notebooks. Personally, I love having extra notebooks for myself. I still use them for writing notes when working on unit studies or literature units, To this day I can’t bring myself to actually write in a book. But also, I use them to write daily checklists for my daughter. This will be even more important as she is coming up on high school and she’ll be working more and more independently. Having a checklist to work from saves both of us time. She can see exactly what needs to be done and it gives her the independence to tackle her day without needed me constantly at her side.
And speaking of notebooks, I have recently been buying these notebooks from Megan at Schoolnest. I love how colorful they are and they are great for keeping us organized. We currently own her timeline notebook, science, history, and copywork. I also have the planner, though I’ve never been great at keeping up with fancy planners. I tend to do better when I can just do my own thing in a regular notebook, but I love that these are specifically made for homeschool families. I’m always a sucker for beautiful notebooks.
One more item that I recommend for keeping organized is a whiteboard. I like having a visual place where I can leave notes, put our dictation assignment, a quote of the day, word of the day, etc. I especially like it for copywork and dictation because it’s out where they will see it frequently throughout the day. This year, we just bought a new one that is magnetized so I can stick it on the back of the front door. We lack usable wall space due to bookshelves, bookshelves, and more bookshelves… so this is the best option. I also have a small lap sized one that we use for working out math problems to save paper.
And that’s how I keep our little homeschool running. There are numerous pictures on Pinterest and other websites with gorgeous school rooms and a thousand different ways to organize every single thing. But do what makes the most sense for you and your children, high style or high function. Just because an idea works well for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit into your household or even work for you every year.
What are some of your best homeschool organization tips? I’d love for you to share any tidbits on what works for you in the comments below!
New Tidbit Video:
Old BSHS Organizing Video:
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.