You can facilitate learning and peace when you organize your homeschool. Here are 10 tools to help you get organized and enjoy your homeschool more.
I’m officially in the throes of my 15th year of homeschooling. I’ve got about 9 more to go. I’ve learned a lot over the years. I probably have a lot more to learn. One of the things that I’ve gleaned in this home education gig, is that organization is super duper important.
Since we live, eat, sleep, and school at home, there is a myriad of tasks — and stuff – to juggle. I’ve found that you have not only to organize your homeschool, but also do it in a way that suits your family’s personality and practice. There’s no right way to organize your homeschool, but boy, do you sure need to do it!
Over time, I’ve tried new methods and tweaked systems so that our homeschool can run more efficiently. I’ve found that things that help us save money, time, and energy, and make homeschooling more fun.
Here are my recommendations for ten tools to organize your homeschool:
10 Tools to Organize Your Homeschool
1. An Academic Calendar
One of the beauties of homeschooling, is that in most cases, state law-depending, you get to create your own academic calendar. Not only does this allow you to be flexible with vacations and crazy family seasons, but it’s an ideal tool to organize your homeschool.
Every summer I create a calendar for the year, matching it up with my husband’s work calendar. It’s better if I plan for school holidays when he has time off work. Family birthdays are school holidays so I mark those off, too. Having a calendar ready helps me plan lessons and map our way through the curriculum.
2. Assignment Sheets
Assignment sheets can be super helpful to organize your homeschool because you have to create lesson plans anyway, and your kids will benefit from knowing what’s on the docket for the day.
For years I relied on weekly assignment sheets to map out my kids’ work for the upcoming week. I found these to be super duper helpful, particularly for kids who need to check off the boxes every day.
(My only problem was that I could only plan one week at a time because I never knew how far we would get in a given week. If you’ve been homeschooling longer than a week, you know that things don’t go according to plan.)
3. Assignment Binders
This year I moved to a different system: The Homeschool Assignment Binder which holds each child’s assignments for the whole school year.
I spent a week of my summer, writing out every child’s assignments for every subject for the whole year. I placed these in binders and this is what we now use to chart our course through the curriculum. If we skip history one week, it’s no big deal, we pick up where we left off, no erasing of weekly assignments involved or shifting of dates involved.
This has been the best way that I could plan ahead without having to undo my own work.
4. Color Coding
If you’ve got more than one child, I highly recommend assigning each child a color to organize your homeschool and all the stuff!
Currently my kids are yellow, green, orange, blue, and pink/purple. I buy coordinating folders, binders, copy paper, even post-its in these colors. I know at a glance whose binder is whose instead of having to flip through and decipher handwriting.
I don’t know about you, but my homeschoolers don’t always write their names on their papers. 😉
5. Dedicated Cubbies or Shelves
A place for everything and everything in its place, right? Organize your homeschool by making sure that every child knows where to find (and replace) his or her books and assignments. You will go crazy if you don’t make sure that they have places to put their school stuff.
We’ve always dedicated the formal dining room of our home into a schoolroom. This works for us since we don’t mind eating in the kitchen and any guests who come get to see our real life schoolroom when we overflow to that table for meals. We homeschool more than we entertain, you know?
Giving each child a cubby, or in the case of the teens, a dedicated shelf, makes it easy for them to find their books as well as know where to put them away.
One caveat: It really helps if you’ve got clean kids’ bedrooms. We’ve lost (and repurchased!) many a grammar/vocabulary/spelling book when a certain child did assignments in his room and then lost the book.
Organize your homeschool with dedicated storage for each child so you don’t have to rebuy books!
Clipboards are some of my favorite school supplies for homeschool as they are ideal, portable work spaces that hold papers together. Get enough for each child as well as yourself so that you each have a mobile work station and storage space.
7. The Library Shelf or Box
The library is a homeschooler’s best friend. There’s a wealth of knowledge to access within its walls for FREE — if you can avoid the ever pesky late fees.
Organize your homeschool resources by making sure your library check-outs don’t get mixed up. Placing them on a designated shelf or in a box/tote bag can make library returns so much easier!
8. School Records/Portfolios/Cumulative Files
Have a space for your longterm school records. Depending on what your state requires, you may need to save portfolios or cumulative files for longer than the school year. Be sure to have a designated space for this.
This year, I bought each of the kids a Kindle for the first day of school. We use these for all kinds of things, including book storage, to-do lists, timers, music, movies and documentaries, and life skills.
A standard operating procedure or SOP is an important tool to organize your homeschool. It involves making sure your kids KNOW all the systems you’ve put in place. Do they know what to do with completed work? Do they know where to put library books when they’re done reading? Do they know what the next assignment is?
By making these procedures clear to your kids — and possibly repeating them 5,436,987 times — you stand a chance of getting through the day without tearing out your hair.
Your SOPs should also include procedures for YOU. Do you have a system for remembering when library books are due? When to file papers for the cumulative files? When you’re going to tackle lesson planning. Develop your own SOPs and write them down so that you don’t have to think about what to do next. There’s enough to think about already!
So, there’s my top ten. I’d love to hear what you use to organize your homeschool in the comments. Let’s chat!
How do YOU organize your homeschool?
Don’t miss the series: Organization for Normal People.
Originally published October 24, 2015.