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 day looking around for that next supply or book you need, your day will lag on, frustrations will rise, and before you know it you’re completely overwhelmed! Ready to thrive and breeze through your upcoming homeschool year? Living an Organized Life is definitely the key!
If tackling the mess and finding an the perfect 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 comes this amazing list of 5 simple solutions!
5 Simple Organizing Ideas for a Smoother Homeschool
#1 The Morning Basket
If you aren’t already implementing a morning basket into your daily homeschool routine, you definitely need to start one! Not sure what a morning basket is? Or maybe you’ve been wanting to start a morning basket but don’t know what to fill it with? I highly encourage you to check out The Morning Basket for some great ideas. A morning basket is the perfect place for extra workbooks, flash cards, activity books, sticker books, or coloring books. The idea is to simplify your morning so you can go into your school day with ease.
- Figure out your specific need. Have an extra stack of workbooks and excess of coloring books laying around? Or maybe your task is a smaller one to tackle, such as a 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 starting your very own! If your need is large, a big basket might work best. However, if your need is a small one, you can probably get away with something little.
Take some time to find the perfect fit for your need. Browsing baskets and bins online is a great place to start, just make sure you pay attention to measurements! My current favorites? These wooden crates and wicker baskets from Target.
#2 The Binder System
I’ve touched on some simple morning solutions so far, but now it’s time to get a little more serious. Pacing guides, attendance records, answer keys, and schedules all need a happy place to live and a 3 ring binder is the perfect solution! When we first started homeschooling, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it took me some time to get a good rhythm down. However, the organization just wasn’t there. I needed something functional and simple.
The Key Components to My System:
Current semester schedules in the outside sleeves for quick and easy access
Multiple thick, durable and 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
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 a number of these dividers in my binder and my personal favorites are definitely these pocket dividers from Five Star. 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. I simply use these pocket dividers to separate those extras. For one child it might be math, for another history. This really is the perfect solution!
Been looking for the perfect laminator? You can check out the one we use (and love) right here – Fellowes Laminator
#3 Curriculum Baskets
Book shelves are great for holding books or displaying decorations, however I don’t always find them to be the perfect fit for curriculum. If you prefer your house to have a more homey feel, opposed to the messy school room look. I highly suggest looking into decorative baskets for storing your children’s curriculum.
For our family this also meant purchasing a huge cubby unit from IKEA! Each child got their own cubby to house all their curriculum needs for the current semester. No longer do we have stacks of curriculum on top of desks or scattered about on the floor.
Everything has a place and my house has a more put together look and feel. definitely a win-win scenario. Your solution might vary slightly from mine, however finding the proper place to keep curriculum for easy access is definitely essential to a smoothly run homeschool year!
#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 much planning on both our part as well as theirs.
The older our children get, the more this responsibility needs to fall on them and less on us as parents. However, no child is too young to begin the process! Enter the white board & planner system. Much like a brick and mortar type school, we write a weekly plan or goals out on our children’s individual white board squares and then they simply copy them into their planner each day.
With that said, we are somewhat of a mix between strict planners and 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.
How this 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 his own tasks.
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 wander down 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 to retaining information. If my children write out their plan every single morning, I know 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. Perfect-O!
Looking to create a similar system for your own children? Dry erase wall decals are a great place to start! Like the planners we use? We do too! You can find those right here – student planner for 2018-2019 (bear) & student planner for 2018-2019 (stripes)
#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 a successfully run homeschool. 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 have 2 different folder systems that we utilize 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 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 with 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! Want even more homeschool organization tips? I highly recommend you sign up for my bi-monthly homeschool newsletter below!
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 & learning guides 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 use with the folder system.
I like to work on a single 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 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 how to create the pacing guide that works best for you? Feel free to check out 5 Easy Ways to Prep Your Homeschool for more information on pacing guides, plus get your own printable version!
Want Even More?
Loving all of these homeschool organization ideas, but want more? I highly encourage you to check out the my follow up post 5 Ways to Organize Your Homeschool Using Thirty-One Products, where I touch on many of the Thirty-One products we use in our home for homeschooling purposes! In this post I touch on our bible bin, tool caddies, flash card storage and more!
Need tips on homeschooling kindergarten or preschool? Check out these recent articles.
- Homeschooling Your Preschooler
- The Best Language Curriculum for Preschoolers
- Hands on Ways to Practice Kindergarten Spelling Words
- The Kindergarten Spelling Box
Enjoy this article? Please take a quick moment to share it with all your homeschool mom friends that might need a little help getting their homeschool organized this upcoming school year! Feel free to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest!
Like these ideas, but want even more? Feel free to contact me with organization questions or topic requests you would like to see covered on the blog!