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Getting Organized for Homeschooling

Now that you're homeschooling, you'll be using your home for living and for schooling. This means that keeping things organized can be a challenge. Unlike some families where the parents go off to work and the children go off to school all day, you will be using your home for living, for schooling, and, in some cases, even for working. Be prepared for books on the floor, science experiments on the table, 4-H projects in the backyard, and educational supply catalogues all over the house. Everyone has his own level of tolerance for chaos, so once again, your home organization system should reflect your own needs and values. The home organization experts at OrganizedHome.com and About.com have the following advice for homeschooling families:

  • Lower your standards. You are not competing with anyone else for homeschooling excellence or your home's appearance. Concentrate on the important things, like teaching your children and achieving your goals, and let the less important stuff go. You can't do everything and you'll never get it all done.

  • Plan how you will attack household chores like cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Coming up with a schedule and writing it down makes the process easier and smoother.

  • Get your children involved. Don't try to homeschool your children and run the house all by yourself. Your children have more time than you, and you do them a disservice if you do not teach them how to take care of themselves. Older children can participate by taking care of younger siblings, teens can do the family shopping and help pay the bills, and everyone can be trained to fold their own laundry and put it away. Your home and your homeschool will run more efficiently if everyone is involved. Tidy up the house first, then do your studies or learning activities. Teach your children to "start the day" by making their bed, tidying the house, and taking care of their personal grooming. Then you don't have to worry about it the rest of the day.

  • Get rid of junk. If you haven't used it for a while, you probably don't need it. If you don't need it anymore, hand it on to someone who will appreciate it. This applies to curriculum materials as well. If your children don't like certain workbooks or texts, sell them or give them to someone who might enjoy them more.

  • Have a place for everything. Have a place for art supplies, school supplies, and books. Some homeschoolers give each child their own dishrack or box where school materials can be arranged subject by subject. Math manipulatives, vocabulary flash cards, and art projects in progress store neatly and can be put away in a breeze.

  • Use hanging files to organize catalogues, attendance forms, learning records, and other paperwork.

  • Use see-through plastic boxes instead of cardboard boxes to store puzzles, games, and LEGOs, so you can see exactly where things are.

  • Be realistic about time. Build success into your scheduling by allowing enough time to complete assignments, chores, and errands without being rushed.

  • Set up a school area. Some homeschoolers use an extra room for their classroom, some use the kitchen table. Use whatever space you have and organize your school supplies so that they are easily accessible. Set up a specific area to keep schoolbooks and other books and make sure this area has good lighting. Make sure you have a quiet area for difficult assignments, away from the noise and distractions of younger siblings.

  • Schedule the 3 R's (reading, writing, and arithmetic) for when the children are freshest. Work one-on-one with the older children when the younger children are napping or when the other children are working independently or reading.

  • Be flexible. Don't let your organization plan and time schedule control you-they are just guides to help you keep things moving along smoothly. Relax and enjoy yourselves.

    Excerpted from: Homeschooling for Success: How Parents can Create a Superior Education for Their Child by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna


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