Records? What are those? Didn’t they go out of style with eight-track cassettes? Or, records? Are you nuts? Why should I keep them? If I have to keep them, which ones should I be worried about, and how do I do it?
Organizing your homeschool curriculum wish list is a win-win idea. Happy shopping!
This post appears in “The Organized Homeschool” column of the Mar./Apr. 2011 issue of Home School Enrichment magazine.
Q4U: What’s your best curriculum-buying tip?
Deck the halls with boughs of school books, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
‘Tis the season to be busy, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Don we now our anxious faces, fa la la la la la la.
Sing of lapbooks, handmade orn’ments, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
See the piles of laundry ’round you, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Strike the doorbell, chase the toddler, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
Follow me for every minute, fa la la la la la la.
While we sing of wistful summer, fa-la-la-la-la la la la la.
That covers school, but what about the holiday stuff? I love lists! I make lists of my lists (yes, really). Here are a few of the lists that preserve my sanity during November and December: I keep a running list in my BlackBerry (a small notebook would also work) of every person for whom I regularly buy gifts. As I hear hints or think of gift ideas, I make a note of it. I check off the item after I’ve bought it, but leave it on my list so that I remember I have it. This works for birthday presents as well as Christmas gifts. Throughout the year, I buy gifts for family and friends as I see things that would be appropriate. Since none of our family lives close by, all of their gifts are bought and wrapped early in the fall. All the rest of the gifts are bought by the first week in December. I usually wait until the weekend before Christmas to wrap the gifts because I don’t like to put them under the tree too early, but it’s written in my planner.
We need to remember to slow down long enough to be thankful for our many blessings and to celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas season. Two of our favorite traditions are taking time to read the Christmas story from Luke and singing some traditional Christmas carols around the piano.
From our homeschool family to yours, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas season!
In the May/June 2010 issue of Home School Enrichment, I talk about WHERE you homeschool. Before you say, “Duh, at home,” think about it. Even at home, multiple choices exist: the kitchen table, the living room floor, individual desks, and more. Is what you did this year working? Do you need to think about tweaking it for next year?
Then there is carschooling. How much school time do you spend in the car? Is it too much or too little? Now is the time to reflect on your level of activity this past year and to decide whether it was just right or needs to be adjusted for next year.
How many outside classes do your children take? I know kids need to have some interaction with other kids. And, I know that not every mom is equipped to teach algebra (that would be me!) or grade essays. But, are your kids taking more classes outside your home than inside of it? Do you need to re-evaluate for next year?
The last question I posed in my article is the trickiest: where in your heart is homeschooling right now? If you’re like me, spring fever has hit hard. I’m ready to be done with the year! It’s been a challenging year as well, so I have to keep reminding myself of all the reasons we’re homeschooling lest I be too tempted to flag down the yellow bus that passes my house each morning. Keep homeschooling front and center in your heart and keep pressing on to finish this school year well.
For the rest of the article, subscribe to Home School Enrichment! 🙂
Q4U: Where do YOU homeschool?
I’m so excited to be writing a regular column for Home School Enrichment (it’s an old-fashioned, print, hold-in-your-hands magazine)! My first article, entitled “An Introduction to Homeschool Organization,” debuts “The Organized Homeschool” column in the March/April issue. Check out Home School Enrichment for many other encouraging and helpful articles! Here’s my column:
Welcome to The Organized Homeschool Mom’s corner! I am delighted to be sharing with you what comes naturally to me: homeschool organization. Does it take you half an hour to find the grammar book each morning? Do the kids take five minutes to find and sharpen a pencil? Do you find three copies of the same book lying around because you had no idea you already owned it? (Yes, I know someone to whom that has actually happened!) One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (NKJV). I believe this especially applies to homeschooling.
My plan is to share a specific organization snippet in each column that you can use right away. Let’s start with a basic homeschool organization plan. A builder wouldn’t dream of starting work on a house without knowing what type of house he was building, what size the house was supposed to be, and what kind of materials he would need. He finds all of this information on a blueprint. Neither should you try to organize your homeschool without having an idea of what and how you’re organizing.
Let’s think about a blueprint in terms of soil for a moment in this modern-day parable. Behold, a mother went out to teach her children. As she taught, some lessons fell by the wayside; and the dirty socks and lost library books came and devoured them. Some fell on messy desks, where they did not have much space, and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of thought. But when the days were long, they were forgotten, and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among unorganized papers, and the papers sprang up and choked them. But others fell on sharpened pencils and yielded a three-point paragraph, some a ten-point paragraph, some six, some four. She who has ears to hear, let her hear! (A very liberal retelling of Matthew 13:3–9.) What kind of soil do you want for your homeschool? That will determine the type of blueprint that you generate.
Just as a builder would not begin building a house without a blueprint, neither would he begin building it without the proper tools. Let’s take a look at the most necessary tools for homeschooling. I am not going to address curricula here, but you may add it to my list if you wish. Remember, not all of these supplies have to be bought brand new at a fancy office supply store. You’ll find that you already have many of these items in your house, or that you have the materials to make your own tools. Be creative and get your children involved in the process.
1. Bookshelves. First of all, sort your books into general categories. (You’ll probably end up with stacks of books all over the floor; that’s okay as long as it’s temporary.) Then, label each shelf with a category title. Eventually, you can sort each shelf and/or category alphabetically by title or author, by book size, or in series order.
2. Binders. Binders should be a single subject each. Four types of binders are absolutely essential. Kids each need a fun-type binder for everyday use; make one tab divider for each subject. You need a mom binder, also known as an administrative binder. In it, include all necessary state paperwork; use a separate tab for each child for test results, immunization records, attendance records, and official communication from the state. Include anything else you need at your fingertips (behind appropriately labeled tabs, of course). Additionally, you need an extra resources binder, divided by subject area for articles, workshop notes, maps, coloring pages, craft projects, and other resources. If you have a lot of supplementary materials, you may need more than one binder, or you may wish to use a filing drawer system instead. The last type of essential binders is portfolio binders for each child for each year. Every few weeks, clean out desk binders and file a small sampling into the portfolio.
3. 3-Hole Punch. Not every piece of paper comes ready to file.
4. Baskets and/or shoeboxes (cardboard or Rubbermaid type). You’ll need one each for different types of craft supplies, math maniptulatives, extra pens and pencils, markers, scissors, larger items, and anything else that will fit into a basket or box.
5. Various small containers. Store all of your extra paper clips, tacks, small manipulatives, erasers, staples, etc. neatly in one central location. Include pencil cups for each child, plus one for you.
6. Letter stacking trays. Have one for each type of paper, and one for each child and yourself (to be used for an in bin for work to be graded or filed).
7. Calendars. Have a master family calendar and small, portable calendars for yourself and for the children. Teach them how to plan.
8. Lesson planners. These are not meant to be restrictive, but are to provide a blueprint for school days. Realize that you have the freedom to change your plans if necessary.
9. Timers. Teach your children to manage their time wisely.
10. Keep it organized! If you get it out, put it away right away and train you children to do the same thing.
Now that we’ve established a blueprint and gathered our tools, let’s start building an organized homeschool.
P.S. – If you’re thinking that this list looked familiar, you’re right :-).