Plus we need to organize our homeschool days and plan for what we’ll be doing each day. There’s a lot to remember, so we need to be sure we don’t forget something important that we need to do. It takes planning!
Lastly, we need to keep good records of what we’re doing with our children academically both to fulfill state requirements and for our own benefit. (Most states require that you keep records of what you’re doing with your children academically)
I don’t know a homeschooler who doesn’t have at least one bookshelf to store books in; in fact, most have several! We love books, right? So getting a bookshelf is a must if you’re homeschooling.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but we have four bookshelves plus a large built-in bookshelf in one room. And they are still fairly full of books! It’s probably time to find a new home for some of them, I know!
When we were homeschooling, we used one of the bookshelves to store resource books and books that I needed as the teacher (teacher manuals, my homeschool binder, etc.).
Each of our children had their own school bin for their personal school books. This was a simple rectangular file type box with a handle. The children each decorated their own box and kept the school books specific to their studies in that box as well as their notebooks and their weekly list of assignments. (More on the weekly assignment sheet later…) Some of the children’s bins were messier than others, but the good thing was, with this system we rarely had a missing book. They were good about putting their books back in their bin!
For all the school supplies needed for art and science projects, we had a cupboard with doors to hide some of the mess. I’ve seen others use the type of storage shelves with the cloth bins or baskets to pull out. Cupboards with drawers work well too. You need a good place for things like scissors, paper, tape, arts supplies, etc. and since this stuff is a little less neat looking, it’s nice to have doors to close and hide it a bit! For more ideas on organizing homeschool stuff, check out this blog post from “The Real Thing with the Coake Family.”
To help make sure that things get put back where they belong, you can label the shelves with whatever goes there, or if you have non-readers, put a picture of each item by where it goes. It takes a little work, but you can train your children to put things back where they belong and it will really make life easier for you. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to spend half an hour trying to find what you need! But if you have a place for everything, you’ll lessen the chances of that happening.
Organizing your Homeschool schedule:
How do I teach multiple children of different ages?
If you’re homeschooling more than one child, you really need to think through the logistics of your homeschool day. I remember a few years when all four of our children were in elementary school and each needed my help with several of their subjects, I had to schedule out when they could have time to work with me on each subject!
In fact, if you’re teaching multiple children of different ages, I highly recommend that you teach them together in as many subjects as you can to make your life easier. It’s more enjoyable for everyone that way anyway! History, Science, Art, Phy-Ed, Bible and Music are all subjects that can be taught together as a family. The teaching time can be geared towards the oldest but needs to be kept at a level the youngest can also understand. Then if there are assignments to follow the teaching time, you can adjust them to fit the age level of each child. Unit studies are an excellent way to teach multiple children together.
For Math and Language Arts, you will likely need to teach each child individually because they both follow a specific scope and sequence. By scope, I mean what they are studying. Sequence refers to the order it is studied. Both these subjects require that you teach concepts in a specific order.
For example, you can’t expect a child to read before they know the letters and the sounds of the letters. You can’t expect them to write essays until they’ve learned to write letters, have learned to read well and know some grammar.
Math also requires learning concepts in a specific progression. So you need to teach both Math and Language arts individually to each child unless you have two children who happen to be academically at the same place.
So think through who will need help with what and plan your day so that they don’t’ all need you at the same time!!
Planning out your weeks:
In my first years of homeschooling, I kept a notebook with a record of what I wanted to accomplish each week and what we did each day. Then I graduated to a simple excel spreadsheet where I listed the weekly assignments for each child.
I would plan and write up their schedule on the weekend, and then put it in their school bin in a plastic protective cover so they could find it each day. They were responsible to make sure that everything on that sheet was completed each day and checked off.
When our children were in high school, I started using a computer homeschool record keeping program. The one I used isn’t available any longer, but there are several good ones out there: Homeschool Manager or The Well-Planned Day are both excellent record keeping systems. The Homeschool Manager will also help you figure out grades and produce report cards and a transcript for each child.
I also kept a homeschool binder for important information related to our homeschool and our daily schedule.
Ideas for what to keep in your homeschool binder:
- List of curriculum used for each child for that year (include a copy of the table of contents if there is one so you have documentation of the scope and sequence of what was studied).
- Daily schedule for the family (I just listed what order we would do each subject that we did together, and also when I would be helping each individual child with certain subjects.)
- Weekly assignment sheets for each child for each week OR a list of what you did each day (daily log)
- Reporting form for school district (copy of original) as well as any other correspondence from the school district.
- Immunization records
- Co-op information
- Scheduling info for school activities
- List of field trips completed
- Book list for books read
- School calendar (we just followed the public school calendar each year because the neighbor kids would always come and ask to play when they had days off, so it just seemed easier to take the same days off!)
- Copies of report cards if you choose to use them
- Testing information and results
Keeping Good Records:
At the end of each school year, I would collect the important information from the homeschool binder: the list of curriculum as well as all the weekly assignment sheets for each child and any information that I needed to keep for records required by the state (testing results, etc.) and put them in a manila folder labeled with the school year. In MN, we’re required to keep our school records for at least three years.
It’s recommended that you keep some samples of your child’s work in each subject. If you don’t have room to store a lot of extra papers, etc., you can just take a picture of what they’ve done and save it that way. There were a few years where I was actually organized enough to create a scrapbook with samples of some of the kid’s best work in the various subjects. We’ve had fun going back and looking at those over the years! There are some really cute writing assignments that I’m glad we still have to look back at!
Here’s a list of what you should try to save for record keeping purposes:
- Administrative Records:
- Yearly calendar
- Daily schedule
- Report cards (if you choose to use them)
- Expense Reports/Receipts
- Health/Immunization Records
- Student Records:
- Annual test scores
- Any outside classes taken including grades
- Any other important test scores (ACT, SAT, PLAN)
- Non-Academic Information:
- Travel & field trips
- Honors and awards
- Sports activities
- Volunteer work
- Academic Work
- Bibliography of texts and materials used
- Samples of work in each subject
- Names/Addresses of outside teachers
- Transcript (for high school)
If organization and making schedules isn’t your thing, it’s okay! You can still homeschool! I don’t want to overwhelm you, just give you some tools to make life easier in organizing your homeschool life. If you need to, just implement one of these ideas at a time and gradually work towards improving your organization in your homeschool.
I’ve also heard of families where they have a bin that they put everything related to school in and then quarterly they go through it and save out a few samples of their student’s work. Do whatever works best for you!
Most importantly, I want to encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and guidance as you plan out your homeschool schedule and year. Pray for wisdom on how to make your daily schedule flow smoothly. God cares about even your daily schedule! Rest in Him and He will guide you.
If you have some great tips for organizing your homeschool, please leave a comment and share it! I’d love to hear new ideas and others will benefit too!