By guest author Renee Ellison
Too much homeschooling to do, too little time? Here are some general organizational principles for getting your homeschooling shipshape.
1. Begin with labeled containers. No matter how tight the budget is for a family, containers are a must. Start on some level, using any sort of container — even with just cardboard boxes you bring home from the grocery store and store under the beds. You always start conquering organizational chaos by organizing in containers. The principle? Everything has a place, and there’s a place for everything.
2. Visual clarity. You can see it at a glance.
3. Easy grabability. No stuff is stored behind other stuff unless it is duplicates of the same thing; there’s no digging for anything.
4. Like things with like things, and back-ups for frequently consumed items. Ideally, you want to have on stock two or more of everything you commonly use, so you never run out of anything. If you do this, you will seldom if ever have to do emergency shopping for food or school supplies. When you get down to the last one, you note it on your shopping list so you remember to re-stock that back-up second thing on your shelves.
Organizing Your School Stuff
In addition to arranging picture books by size, if you have some early readers of various sorts, arrange those by level of difficulty so that you escort the child through all of them progressively.
Arrange everything so that your family members (including your husband whenever he’s taking over the homeschooling when you’re not available) don’t have to ask you where anything is. They will know by looking. Localize all of your school stuff near where it will actually be used, on shelves either under a counter eating area or flanked along a wall next to your main projects/schooling table. Build long shelves at waist height, using 8-12” deep boards held up on each end by bricks cinderblocks — free from somewhere — and then group all your supplies (like things with like, down to minutiae — i.e., no pencils in with the markers). Separate out everything into its own container. Group all of your school books and workbooks together. Top it all off with a large wall map of the world, a large map of your country, a large clock, a large calendar — all on the wall in that area — and each child’s large homeschool to-do checklists.
Set your young children’s flashcards in little white plastic baskets (3 for a dollar? cheapo at Walmart—either in their kitchen container area or the general container area). Their size is 5 inches by 6 inches by 2 inches. These let your flash cards breathe and flop backwards and forwards with some air and finger room in there, as opposed to using tight 3X5” metal/plastic index card boxes. Stick a card upright for a marker to separate each type of flashcards, and label each division of cards on this upright card.
Summary: General Organizational Principle
Your overall organization principle is arrange your stuff so that anything you do repetitively, you want to do optimally. In other words, spend as much time as necessary up front on getting it organized exactly right, so that you will have to spend no time organizing it later.
For much more on this topic, read Renee’s booklet/e-book/Kindle book, Razor Sharp Teaching Tips for Homeschool Moms. It is loaded with practical proven ideas.