How to organize your homeschool during the elementary years.
"The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. -Author Unknown"
The first thing I always think about when August rolls around is back-to-school. Now that I am a homeschool mom, I tend to think about the upcoming school year all summer long. The endless hours of researching and asking other homeschool moms a million and one questions in preparation for the year is just a fraction of what it takes to mentally and physically prepare for back-to-school.
Geek alert. I love this time of the year mainly because I love organizing and putting all the school supplies and curriculum in its allocated place.
I feel like it is important (at least in my world) to stay organized and to keep it all SIMPLE. Let's say you are on a lesson about the medieval times and you want to pull out that super cool book on knights and castles, but it could be 1 of 5 different locations. Whah, whah. Chances are, you are going to waste a ton of time looking for it, or not get it at all because you don't know where to look.
Let me share with you a few must-haves, fun-haves and then an easy way to keep it simple and organized in the early years of homeschooling.
- Lots of white paper, construction paper, preschool writing paper and envelopes.
- All your typical school supplies. (glue, scissors, tape, markers, crayons etc.)
- organizational bins
- School calendar or planner
- craft supplies (googly eyes, pom balls, pipe cleaners, glitter....)
- small dry erase boards or chalk boards
- stash of paper or plastic cups and plates
- manipulatives (unifix cubes, pattern blocks, foam letters, dice, cuisenaire rods)
- stickers and stamps (young kids love stickers and stamps as rewards for their hard work)
Planning and organizing always starts with your yearly calendar or planner. I struggled with wanting to get the super cute organizers like The Simple Planner or Happy Planner, because I love cute and trendy. BUT after researching for 2 weeks on end, I decided I am much more of a practical girl. As cute as all those planners are, I knew I would not be able to fit all my details in the tiny spaces. I need something slim, with plenty of space to record our hours and schooling details in the daily sections. I happened to come across this 5 Star planner at Target for $10.99. It has a great pocket for the inside and meets all my planning and record keeping needs. To spruce it up a bit, I just ran to Hobby Lobby and grabbed a cute piece of scrapbook paper for the cover. Way more cost effective and practical for this Mama. (Someone emoji fist bump me here!)
I found the easiest way to have everything together is to stick my supplies in a 3 drawer organizational bin. I have the drawers labeled:
- Teacher supplies (only for Mom)
- Paper products
- Manipulatives (Does anyone else just love that word as much as I do, in the context of education toys?!)
I stock this at the beginning of the year with extra school supplies, since they are super cheap during back to school, and then I typically do not have to re-stock throughout the year.
Next, I have a black plastic file bin with books and workbooks related to topics planned for that school year. I also keep our binders with work the kids accomplished throughout the year as well as our classical conversations extras (tin whistles and timeline cards). I am still coming up with a master idea on getting all the work kept digitally because I do not like to keep "stuff" around and in storage bins. If anyone has come up across something magical for keeping homeschool clutter at bay, please fill me in!
The best homeschool supply I own, is my little file box/bag from My31 I just happened to come across this shoved in one of my parents closets at their house. It is my daily bin. I keep our current curriculum, daily workbooks or worksheets, my planner and anything else I might need on a daily basis in our homeschool. It is light weight and super easy to keep everything in one place and grab quickly. You can actually find one just like it on their site here.
I have a small area in my walk in closet where I place our school stuff. Its convenient and doesn't take up much space.
This year I really did not have to purchase much, so I was excited to just add a few extra learning tools for our curriculum and some fresh supplies to keep the kids excited.
It can be overwhelming and maybe even exciting if you are a type-A education lover, like myself, when you walk into any store that has every school supply ever imagined for your shopping convenience. However, I would encourage you to keep it simple and don't let your emotions take over. If you bring home too much it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to put it all, and then it is more of a burden instead of a joy.
What are you looking most forward to this year? I would love to hear your organizing hacks. Please share them in the comments below! :)
Create joy in your HOMEschool.