Homeschool Basics: Organization
Establish your routines, modify them according to your unique family’s needs, and enjoy less agonizing over homeschool organization.
So, you are not a born organizer? Organizationally challenged, even? Are you feeling overwhelmed just by daily life? And now, to add to that, you plan to be a homeschooler? Maybe you already homeschool, or even have been for a long time, and you know you need help! If any of this describes you, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best thing to do is to start with the basics. Take a deep breath and read on for some “Basic Training.”
Start with a Daily Routine
No, not a rigid, detailed schedule that will drive you to tears and set you up for failure. Rather, think this way: what has to get done in your house in a typical week? What can’t afford to be dropped – Meals? Bedtimes? Basic housekeeping? Make sure you are covering at least these basics by planning a regular, daily routine.
Morning start-up time, mealtimes, and bedtimes make a great framework for a routine. Then plug everything else in around those times. Some families divide their day by general broad zones: morning routine, school routine, afternoon routine, and evening routine.
Viewing sample homeschooling routines/schedules is a good way to come up with ideas for your own. Here is just one of many links that may be helpful.
Once you’ve determined your routine, write it up. Get it all off your mind and on paper. For many visual people, anything that is out of sight is out of mind so make sure to have the routine in a couple places for each member of the family to see.
Have a Spot for School Stuff
One of the biggest hindrances to a smooth school day is wasting time looking for schoolbooks and supplies. The trick? Have a specific spot for school stuff. Here is a link with some ideas that can help organize an unorganized learner and benefit a disorganized mom.
Have a Housework Routine
Do you need a weekly chore schedule and some help figuring out how to get and keep a house clean? Home Ec 101 teaches us it’s just a matter of dividing the chores into manageable chunks. Each day has one major chore and a minor chore to keep the routine simple. This link will help you. Effort spent teaching young children to do small chores will pay off as they develop the skills to be a bigger help later. Invest the time.
Try organizing kids’ chores with Kanban. What is Kanban? It’s a system for organizing kids’ chores with sticky notes. A typical Kanban board (you can use any kind of board) has room for the sticky notes to be removed and then stuck into place AFTER the chore has been accomplished. Since sticky notes are so easy to stick and re-stick, you can change it around and tweak it if you need to. So much fun! Some examples can be found here and here.
Have a Meal Routine
Meal planning can be simplified with a menu rotation. Plan out 10 to 20 complete menus, including family favorites, and then rotate them, serving a different one every day. It limits variety, but there are no surprises, and prep will go more quickly because you’re doing what’s familiar. Make your freezer your friend: make and freeze several batches at once to reduce overall kitchen time. The 30 Day Gourmet is one of the best freezer cooking books. For variety, you may want to try out a new recipe once or twice a month. Do you have leftovers? Try using them up each Sunday after church. You won’t have to cook, and you won’t be wasting food.
How you put your basic training to work is up to you.
Part three of a three part series on Homeschool Basics.