Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Organized Homeschool

After so many years of homeschooling (12, but who’s counting?), I am finally organized. I can’t believe I’m able to make that claim at last! It’s been a huge struggle for me. I can easily organize my linen closet and my kitchen cabinets, but organizing my homeschooling materials and paperwork was a frightening and off-putting task. Do you feel the same way?
I recently was reminded that our God is a God of order. It’s true! For example, He put everything in our solar system in the exact space it needed to be in. We’re not in charge of something as large as a solar system. Our space is confined to part of our home. Looking at it that way may make it seem an easier task to accomplish.
The organized homeschool is a more efficient homeschool. Is it fun to hunt and search for misplaced books, worksheets, and supplies? No! It’s a waste of time. We need to be good stewards of our time, and that means being good stewards of the things the Lord has given us.
Tip #1: Keep your books in one place. In our last house where there was little storage space, we kept our textbooks and workbooks in color-coded bins. Mine was blue and was filled with teacher’s manuals, reading books, and activity books. My daughter’s bin was red, and my son’s bin was yellow. We kept them stacked in a corner in the dining room. That’s the room where we did most of our studying. Our new home has a room that we use as a school/office. Our books are now on shelves. Notebooks are kept in the desk drawer. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to get organized when one room is the “homeschool” room. However, even if one room – such as a dining room – must serve two purposes, it’s still important to find a way to organize your educational materials. Both you and your students should be able to locate your resources with little effort.
Tip #2: Schedule a weekly time to catch up on paperwork. As my children got older and had more complicated assignments, I got worse about keeping up with grading their papers. One year I actually saved up all their papers till the end of the school year! Then I had the headache of sorting them, grading them, and filing them! Please don’t be like me! You need to schedule some alone time where you can grade and file papers in peace. Keeping good records is an important part of your homeschool requirements. Don’t let the paperwork pile up, or you will be tempted to chuck it into the fireplace and roast hot dogs over the flames!
Tip #3: Plan your time wisely. One of my favorite things about homeschooling has been the flexibility. One of my least favorite things about homeschooling has been having lessons to do in the evening because of goofing off during the day. It’s easy to schedule shopping trips and errands during the morning and afternoon hours when fewer people are out. It’s easy to let the kids play while you catch up on housework. However, making a habit of putting homeschool last teaches children that education is not that important. Set up a schedule for schooling, chores, errands, and recreation. Allow for some flexibility, of course, but plan to keep to the schedule as much as possible. It will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and will keep your kids on track with their education.
These are just a few things you can do to get organized. I hope you’re motivated to organize your little part of the solar system. It’s an accomplishment worth celebrating!

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