When you made the choice to homeschool, I bet the first thing on your mind was not the stress. You probably imagined some fairy tale where all the children sat still and listened to you lecture or followed along with everything you said and did. Then, once you got started, you were snapped back into reality. I can't promise you a fairy tale, but I can help you get things running much smoother. When you're fully organized and prepared, each day will be easier. Exact organization layouts will be different for each family, but by reading the following, you should be able to get your schoolwork and homeschool organized easily and effectively.
The first step in organization is figuring out everything you have that will be used during homeschool. Planning ahead will often take off a big slice of stress. Get out a notebook or sheet of paper and take inventory of everything you use for schooling. Individual lists and lengths of lists will vary. Once you have your list, on a separate sheet of paper, group the alike things together. Check them off on your first list as you go. Be sure you are including furniture, craft supplies, and books (no need to list every book; just list them in categories like board books, fiction, non-fiction, simple books (non-chapter), first chapter books, readers, chapter books, etc...). Once you have that done, you are ready for the actual organization part.
Create a space for school
When homeschooling, if possible, you should have a separate space for school. The space can be an entire room if you have the space (I recommend this) or if your space is limited, you can make the spot in a room it will blend well with (home office, playroom, child's bedroom...). This will eliminate the stress of trying to figure it out each day. Remember that sometimes your children may want to do certain assignments outside or on their beds. This is fine, providing it's an assignment that your child feels comfortable doing at a space other than the desk. Also, sometimes assignments will be done during field trips and other school related outings. The school spot is just the "base", so to speak. This is the spot where the kids will be able to read, write, do crafts, do projects, do experiments, study, and listen to lectures. The area must be comfortable, quiet, easily accessible, have all materials handy, and be kept clean and ready to use.
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If you haven't yet purchased furniture or don't have anything in the house you can use, here is a breakdown of what I suggest. However, keep in mind that all households are different and what works for one person may not be universal. I suggest getting a desk that contains a drawer or compartment for storing basic materials (pens, pencils, stapler, scissors, glue, paper, notebooks, etc...). If you have more than one child, you may choose to use a desk-like table that will seat all the kids and store the supplies in separate drawers for each kid. This is ideal, but don't worry if it's not in your budget. You can always opt for using the kitchen table and keeping all supplies close by. I also suggest using an armoire that has shelves and drawers on the part outside of the doors. You can store craft supplies, messy items, items with small pieces, and items you don't want babies and toddlers to touch inside the doors. You can store the books on the shelves and papers, folders , and other supplies in the drawers. If this won't work for you, then you can also use regular tall bookshelves and a file cabinet. Store the "door items" inside plastic totes on the top shelves. Arrange the books on the lower shelves and store the papers, folders, and supplies in the file cabinet.
Once you have decided on your space, arranged your furniture accordingly, and put everything away, it's time to organize your daily tasks and schedule. Your schedule should include all the classes your child takes each day, break and snack times, and recess times. Don't forget to include electives and field trips. Sometimes you may stray from the schedule for some unplanned learning activities. But having a general idea of what you are doing can really help avoid stress.
1. Tear out and laminate workbook pages and put them in binders for each subject. Arrange the page order according to level. If you make a big one that contains all levels and areas of math, you won't have to purchase any more math workbooks the following years and you have work for all your kids. Just pull out the pages one at a time and give them to your child with a write & wipe marker or crayon. Then, when your child is finished and the work has been gone over, you can easily put it back in. You may want to take a Sharpie and number the pages in the order you want them. That way if more than one child has a worksheet, you can easily remember where they belong.
2. Take some relaxing time for yourself each day. If your kids nap, instead of cleaning during their nap, you could take a soak in the tub, curl up with a book, or do something else you enjoy. Your relaxing time may come after the kids are asleep, but be sure to take it. Even five minutes of locking yourself in the bathroom and praying can go a long way.
3. Plan ahead. If you try to do the assignments as they come, this can stress you out. I recommend taking a weekend to plan a month or so of assignments. That way you can easily give the assignments to your child/ren when it's time.
4. Organize each subject for each child. Each child should have a folder for each subject. The assignments should be placed in those folders in order of when they are to be completed. Even though some assignments won't have a worksheet, there should be instructions for each assignment (even if it's just reading). All assignments should have a date on them. You can even stick the write&wipe sheets in the folders, too. This makes the day run much smoother.
5. Never ignore a question your child asks. If you don't know the answer, don't stress. Just look it up.
6. Use different methods for teaching (chalkboard and lecture, books, games, worksheets, drawing, writing...). That way your child/ren won't get bored and they will also learn many different methods for solving problems.
7. Have Fun!
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network