So…you’ve decided to homeschool. Congratulations! You’ve probably spent months reading and researching and hopefully you’ve selected a curriculum or method to follow. If you still need a bit of help, start here.
Now the question is how to make it all work? Here are three things I’ve found helpful.
1. Get a planner. It can be as simple as a lined notebook or as complex as a daytimer. I have created this FREE Homeschool Planner that I personally use to help organize our homeschool. Whatever you use should help you at minimum, keep track of the days you homeschool (if your state requires it) at what each child will study during the week. I also like to keep track of the things we do that don’t seem like school but are actually educational opportunities. Like field trips, learning practical skills, participating in sports, attending the theatre, etc.
2. Organize your “stuff”. I purchased several IKEA cube shelves to organize our school books. Each child has their own cube to store that year’s books, then we have a shelf (or two) for science books, art books, foreign language books, geography books, biographies, free readings, etc… This helps us easily see what we have and lets the kids have easy access to reading material. I will often find my children absorbing the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History or our 500 Facts of British History books. I also have cube shelves with fabric boxes to store our art supplies and other miscellaneous items. I use this multi-colored drawer cart to organize projects the kids are currently working on and to store schoolwork that I want to file in our end-of-year binder. My kids do have desks, simply because I got tired of clearing school books off our dining room table three times a day and when I tried seating both kids within arm’s reach of each other, it had disastrous results. They sit at their desks for their math and copywork and then can retire to the couch or outside to read their literature selections.
To organize my responsibilities I keep this binder that includes “A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six” (just to keep me on track), a copy of our afternoon groupwork schedule (the things I’m responsible for- Foreign language, Picture Study, Nature study, etc…), and the tabs I have are; Calendar (a copy of each boys’ term schedules and Homeschool Attendance Log), Activity Log (where I record field trips and other educational activities), Hymns (words to the hymns for this year), Folksongs (words to this year’s folksongs and sometimes the stories behind them), Geography (Miss Mason’s book), Book Lists (a copy of free reading lists for each year), German (words to the German songs we are learning), French (words to the French songs we are learning as well as the Cherrydale Press ebook), and Book of Centuries (my own personal BOC).
3. Establish a routine. For the first few years of homeschooling our “routine” changed every day. Literally. I could not stick to a time schedule and I felt like a failure because of it. Of course after discovering the Charlotte Mason method I realized part of my problem is I was trying to do too much with children who should have been outside playing rather than trying to do formal school work. We have a great routine now and what makes it work is flexibility and short lessons. My kids finish their core subjects by lunch each day. The afternoon is reserved for “fun” things like science, art and music. We also take every Friday off so the kids have time to explore their own interests and I have time to gear up for the next week. One of my favorite planning tools has been this visual schedule which is part of my Free Homeschool Planner. I don’t rigidly stick to a time schedule but this is the flow of our day should go on a perfect day. Does this happen every day? Definitely not. But we do the most important things first and anything after that is considered a bonus.
Take a peek into a typical school day here.