By Nicci Kilcoyne
July 19, 2010.
Organization in the homeschooling home is NOT impossible but may require a little extra thought and planning for some families. Not everyone has a whole extra room to devote to homeschooling storage; many times, families must make do with a corner in the kitchen or living room as their main section for materials and curriculum. Whatever your main learning space is within the home, here are a few pointers to help:
1. Try to decide ahead of time which materials and curriculum will be in regular use throughout the semester or school year and then, store the rest! This way, you can store curriculum not being used in another place, like a closet or tote, to cut down on visible clutter. Remember to label your storage contents so that you can access them quickly if needed! donnayoung.org has great resources for planning your homeschool year.
2. Invest in personal crates or totes for each student to keep their personal school materials in one place and portable if necessary. Students can keep their binders, folders with current work, and current curriculum being used in these, along with paper, pens, pencils, etc… This really helps with multiple children in the home. These usually evolve into a “school kit system” for each year and also help the student to get organized themselves.
3. Within your main workspace, think about installing a couple of shelves or cabinets to keep reference books, and certain school materials up. Again, this helps cut down on visible clutter and designates a place for school items so that there is no confusion.
4. Come up with a filing system for past work being kept. Some families have portable filing totes for each student in which to store work, many are going digital with the use of scanners, digital photos and computers. Regardless of which method you choose, this is an excellent way to keep records and build a portfolio for your child through the years.
5. Finally, come up with a master schedule for each day that will work for your family. Having a plan in place for each day helps to put the day in focus and to reach certain goals. This includes a morning, afternoon and evening routine; Homeschool may happen in your family after lunch time, so you would schedule your lessons during the afternoon time frame. Mornings may be set aside for breakfast, chores and personal goals. Evening routines usually consist of getting the house back in order and set up for the next day. This doesn’t mean that you can never ‘break’ from your schedule, it only means that you have a plan that you can always come back to. Like a road map, a schedule helps your family see where you are going and how to get there.
The best way to organize is to remember three steps:
1. Simplify– Whatever you are trying to organize, trying to simplify it will help tremendously. This usually involves removing or scaling down whatever necessary. If, for example, your project is the homeschool room, then your first step is to simplify the space…de-cluttering, is the best way to simplify, so you will go through the room, removing everything that really does not belong there, or that does not serve a real purpose.
2. Prioritize– Next, we begin to work with what remains. Put things in order of priority. If your first order of use in the homeschooling room is bible study and character training, then you will want to to organize those materials first. Think about how the space will be used and prioritize accordingly, then, focus on one aspect only before moving on to the next. By prioritizing, remember that you are bringing order to your atmosphere and making sure that the most important things to you will not get lost in the busyness of life.
3. Organize– Very similar to prioritizing, but now you will move from one area to the next and try to make it all work together. For example, if science, cooking class, art and some math is all usually done in the kitchen of your home, you will want to keep each subject’s materials separate from one another, but together and separated from your personal meal planning items. Having a cabinet or shelf designated for ‘homeschool materials only’ is a good plan of action for this, you could even have a storage bin in the corner of the kitchen with supplies inside for each subject, just as long as it does not get mixed up with normal kitchenware. One of the biggest hassles in teaching lessons is not being able to find what you need when you need it. Keeping things separated for their specific use is the key to being prepared in your homeschool day.
Having a prepared, organized homeschool requires forethought and a little extra effort on your part, but the benefits far outweigh the consequences of not being proactive and productive. Students also learn better in an environment of order, and the teacher experiences the peace of mind of being ready for each day in the process too!