Why Homeschool Organization is So Important!
Without proper homeschool organization, your daily progress will likely suffer.
Think about it.
If you’re constantly spending your time looking around for supplies, your day will lag on, frustrations will rise, and before you know it… you’re completely overwhelmed – and getting nothing done!
Want more organization tips? Check out Living an Organized Life for a simple starting point!
If tackling the mess and finding a good system for your homeschool family is something you are in desperate need of, it can seem like a daunting task – especially if you aren’t sure where to begin!
Over the past 2 years I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, from those experiences I created this simple list!
Just keep in mind – no system is flawless or perfect. Try it one way, then another. Tweak it, then tweak it again.
5 Simple Homeschool Organization Ideas
#1 The Morning Basket
If you aren’t already implementing a morning basket into your daily homeschool routine, you are missing out on something wonderful!
I know a lot of moms love to get elaborate and plan out themed baskets each month (which is totally great, by the way!)
However, our homeschool morning basket is what I consider a lazy morning basket.
Not sure what a lazy morning basket is? Check out The Morning Basket for all the details.
Already doing the morning basket thing? Keep reading to find out why I consider it a great homeschool organization solution!
A morning basket is the perfect place for storing extra workbooks, flash cards, activity books, sticker books, or coloring books.
- Figure out your specific needs.Have an extra stack of workbooks and excess of coloring books laying around? Or maybe you just need a storage solution for your large selection of flash cards and pocket sized activity books!
- Purchase the right products.Once you have an idea of what you specifically need your morning basket to hold, then you can get serious about creating your own! Have a lot of extras? If so, you might want to opt for a large basket!
Check out my current favorite morning basket options – I’m absolutely loving both baskets this year! This Basket is super cute and this Basket is super simple (but larger) – both are great options for housing your homeschool extras!
#2 The Binder System
I’ve touched on a simple morning solution so far, but now it’s time to get a little more serious.
Homeschool paperwork is no joke. There is seriously so much of it!
Pacing guides, attendance records, answer keys, and schedules all need a happy place to live – making this next tip a lifesaver!
Enter the 3 ring binder!
When I first started homeschooling, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it took me some time to get a good rhythm down. The organization just wasn’t there. I was in need of something functional and simple.
The Key Components to My
Homeschool Binder System:
Current semester schedules in the outside sleeves for quick and easy access
Multiple – durable tabbed pocket dividers
My Divider Needs:
a) A divider for mom – this holds upcoming things I need to prep for lessons, notes to remember, etc.
b) A divider for each Child – this holds their current year attendance record, pacing guide, trackers, grades, and anything else I need to log throughout the year.
c) A divider for important papers – this holds things like state required homeschool registration papers and curriculum data or order confirmations for the current year.
d) 3 dividers for the past 3 years – these dividers hold curriculum data, order confirmations, grades, attendance records, and trackers for all three children from the year it represents.
*Please note – I’ve tried many different types of dividers in my binder and these pocket dividers are my absolute favorite! They are super high quality and easy to get things in an out of. This 8 pack was honestly the perfect solution for me as well. I used 4 for my children and myself, and the other 4 for record keeping. Not a terrible price point either!
DIY subject dividers for each child
If you can laminate a simple piece of paper and hole punch it… You can totally create your own binder dividers!
After figuring out a system for the things I needed quick access to, such as schedules and records. I found that I had another need. Some of my children had subjects that required additional activities or instructions that weren’t bound in a book, as well as answer keys.
Using my laminator I just make some simple dividers to keep track of each subject or elective. Easy peasy.
Curious what laminator I use and love? You can can find that right here – Fellowes Laminator
#3 Curriculum Baskets
Book shelves are great – I’m a huge fan of bookshelves.
However, I don’t always find them to be the perfect fit for storing homeschool curriculum.
If you prefer your house to have a more homey feel (opposed to the school room look), I highly suggest looking into decorative baskets for storing your children’s homeschool curriculum.
For our family this also meant purchasing a large kallax system from IKEA! Each child got their own cubby to house all their curriculum needs for the current semester.
No more stacks of curriculum on top of desks or scattered about on the floor.
Keeping curriculum in bins instead of on top of surfaces or stacked messily in bookshelves is a super simple homeschool organization solution!
#4 Student White Boards & Planners
If you have a child that struggles with focus issues like I do, this might just be a wonderful tool for your homeschool!
Part of teaching our children to stay on task, complete their work in a timely manner, and keep things organized while they are doing it, considers planning on both our part as well as theirs.
The older our children get, the more responsibility needs to fall on them and less on us as parents.
With that said, no child is too young to begin this process!
Enter the white board & planner system for keeping those homeschool lessons and plans organized!
Each week we write a weekly plan and set goals for our homeschool. My older children take charge and work on this independelty, while my youngest gets a little help from mom.
We simply jot down this plan on individual white board squares (each square represents a day of the week) and then each child does a little copy work by copying their weekly goals into their planner each day.
We are somewhat of a mix between strict planners and total un-schoolers.
We definitely don’t strive to fit any brick and mortar classroom type mold and that definitely isn’t the goal here, so stay with me!
The goal here is to teach responsibility and to keep our children’s plans organized in an easily accessible package – and guess what? It totally works!
An In-depth Look at Our Method
How it works is simple.
Each weekend we simply glance over each child’s pacing guide, see if we hit our targeted goals for the previous week and go from there.
My oldest (14) takes care of his own. While yes, we do look over things with him, he is at the age now where we really want to see him becoming responsible for planning and completing tasks fully on his own!
Our pacing guides always act as just that – a guide.
Kids get sick, grandparents want to visit, and pop up play dates happen!
We use these guidelines to fill out our kid’s white boards, and choose to be flexible whenever need be (that’s the magic of dry erase!).
Once everything is written out on the white boards, we are ready to begin our school week!
Each day, sometime after breakfast has been eaten and devotions have been done, the kids head to their desks to fill out their student planners.
Wondering why we still need planners when we have the nifty white boards? Here’s why!
Copy work is essential for retaining information. If my children write out their plan every single morning, I know that they know exactly what to expect for the day.
Plus, they now have a traveling goal sheet they can carry around with them throughout the day. Major plus!
Looking to create a similar system for your own children? Dry erase wall decals are a great place to start! Unfortunately, the exact option we use is no longer available. However, you can create your own similar setup using this set of wall decals.
Interested in the student planners we use? You can find our 2020 choices below!
#5 The Folder System(s)
Once you’ve got the white board and planner system put into place, the folder system(s) is the next essential key to organized homeschool lessons.
These two systems really go together like peanut butter and jelly, no joke.
Now if you notice, I’ve been saying folder system(s) not just folder system… That’s because we actually use 2 different folder systems in our home. The first one I’m going to touch on is definitely the second half to the white board and planner setup, so if you like how we do guides and planners, you will certainly want to follow it up with this simple system!
The Daily Folder System
This is super simple, you guys!
Each of my children have 5 – 2 pocket folders in the color of their choice.
The outside of each folder is labeled with a sticker that states the day of the week it represents. If you do school on typical week days like we do, you will need 5 folders.
So plan your setup accordingly.
Once the outside is labeled, you will want to move on to the inside of the folder. On the left hand side we have ours labeled with an “Incomplete” sticker, while the right hand side says “Complete”. You can also label these to say “To do” & “Done”, or even something more creative and fun if you can come up with it.
These folders make the perfect companion to the planner system simply because they complete the next step in the cycle!
- First Step – Set goals and plan out work for the week (white board & planner system)
- Second Step – Separate the work out by days they should be completed (folder system)
- Third Step – Refer to planner, grab folder, complete the work! Cycle complete!!
Amazing right? It truly is a beautiful system when executed properly!
Not planning to a traditional 5 day school week in your home? Find out how we switched things up by homeschooling 3 days a week instead!
The Weekly Folder System
This is a new addition to our homeschool organization!
I have yet to use it on a full homeschool rotation, as our summer lessons have been fewer and spread out. However, I am super excited to get in a groove with it once our full schedule hits mid August!
The concept is a simple and this can literally be put together in a single afternoon!
The Supplies You Need to Get Started
- A box or tub intended for paper filing
- 1 hanging folder per week
- 1 file folder (per kid) per week
- Pens, markers or stickers for “color coding”
Creating Your System
First, you need to figure out which curriculum your kids will NOT be doing in workbook form.
I typically leave curriculum completely intact, unless we are using something that either doubles as a teacher guide or is meant to be done as tear out worksheets.
This year I have 1 son using a math program in which his book is a intended to be used as a workbook, so it will stay intact and simply live in one of our curriculum bins (as mentioned above).
My other son however, uses a math program that is designed to be torn out. He has a section of worksheets, a section of quizzes, and a section of tests. This type of curriculum will be much easier to store and complete – using our handy folder system.
I like to work on one semester at a time.
I simply stack all our curriculum in piles and go through each one quickly. Once I’ve assessed our situation, the workbook type curriculum is quickly put away and I can put my focus on the remaining piles. Now begins the simple 3 step method to create our semester 1 box!
Three Simple Steps
- Fill your tub or box with the amount of hanging folders you will need for 1 semester – ours was 18.*Note: I also threw in an extra folder for summertime & one for random 2nd semester work that might accidentally get torn out. Most second semester work however, I left intact in a separate bin.
- Take some time to label and color code your file folders that will be slipping into the hanging folders.I labeled each of ours with the week they correspond with, as well as a colored circle in each of my children’s favorite colors. This was a simple solution for me, plus took much less labeling tape than spelling out each child’s name.
- Starting with one book of curriculum at a time, begin tearing out pages and filing folders!I tend to go by subject – math for kid 1, math for kid 2, math for kid 3. Then, science for kid 1, science for kid 2, science for kid 3… and so on!
*Helpful Tip: Creating and filling out pacing guides before starting this process will aide in a quick and successful filing process!
Want more information on pacing guides? Check out 5 Easy Ways to Prep Your Homeschool for more information on pacing guides – plus get your own printable version!
Looking for more prepping tips? Check out How to Plan your Homeschool Over the Summer for simple tips on planning an entire homeschool year over summer break.
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