Explore homeschool organization and planning ideas for newbies and veterans alike!
In a recent “Homeschool Hints” podcast episode, homeschool mom Angelena Stowell explains some steps she takes in preparing for a new school year.
Organizing Tip 1: Clean Out.
Angelena recommends you always start with prayer, asking God for his guidance and discernment as you dive into planning. “I don’t care if you’re a seasoned homeschooler or if like you’re completely brand new at this, just give God all the glory that you get to do what you get to do before you begin.”
Then she cleans out and organizes her classroom. Here are some basic steps:
- Declutter, get rid of old school supplies, clean out your stuff.
- Clean your car out. “We clean our cars out before we hit the road or go on a road trip. And mine is always, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how it gets to be the way that it does. How do you get like, you know, a fry to be that hard? <laughs> How do you get things in your car like that?”
- Return any old library books.
- Do a meal plan. “You don’t have to do it immediately, but I do believe meal planning and simple meals for your school year, just to kind of come up with something that’s simple and budget friendly for yourself. Tacos, you know, at least once a week, maybe twice.”
- Know your kids and spend quality time with them. “Take notes on the things that they like. What grade will they be in? What are the key benchmarks of that grade, and what are you going to be working towards?”
- Research curriculum. “I think it really depends on what kind of learner your child is or how they like to learn.” Consider whether your child is a multi-sensory learner versus a textbook visual learner. Also, make arrangements for the different ages and stages of your children.
Organizing Tip 2: Store Curriculum.
Angelena uses a portable file system for her curriculum organization.
Her files are plastic ones that have a lid going over them with handles on the side. Inside she has a hanging file bracket, and in each hanging file she puts five days – Monday through Friday – labeled inside.
At times she also plans an agenda sheet for herself or her children. “Don’t spend too much time ever trying to go and find one that you can download. You can just type this up simply. You don’t even have to type it, you can write it on a piece of notebook paper or a piece of paper. Don’t over-complicate it. I’ve already done that for you in spades!”
In other record-keeping tips, she keeps everything for the coming year in a three-ring binder and stores the binder once they’ve finished.
Organizing Tip 3: Arrange resource materials.
Angelena will use her own system to reference and arrange homeschool resources in a home bookshelf. “I put the books on the shelves and you know, I do them in order, like I have a science shelf and those types of things. I love resource materials so it’s not necessary to ever buy books. You can find books at the library that you can use. And they don’t have to be the same ones that are in the back of the book of like, you know, your resource. Because chances are somebody else has already checked it out and you’re on a wait list that’s like 5 deep, so just find something else.”
Angelena also shares some tips for buying homeschool planners in the podcast, so check it out if you haven’t already!
Organizing Tip 4: Cater to the space you have, not what you think you need or want.
Angelena uses metal bins to keep her homeschool books, though she says baskets can also work well. “They’re the perfect size, they have handles on them, it’s a pillow fort thing. They came in all these cool colors. They’re just so neat.”
She’s also had a small classroom space before and made it work. “I have such fond memories of teaching out of the dining room because I literally did that up until just this year for six years – we were a mobile schoolroom.”
Other items to consider:
- Bookshelves. “Because I know all you want is bookshelves, that’s all you want.”
- Maybe a chalkboard. “There’s Japanese chalk you can get that doesn’t get dust everywhere … like crazy, like your cheaper chalk dust. It’s really fantastic. It’s more expensive, but it’s so good.”
Organizing Tip 5: Stack different tubs for different kids.
One homeschool mom shared her method for making use of a small space. She uses different tubs that stack on top of one another.
The first, biggest tubs at the base are toys for her preschool-aged children. The next two containers are for her children in elementary school, and the topmost tub (or mesh basket) is for the mom!
Organizing Tip 6: Try rolling caddies.
For another mom who lives in an apartment with two little children, her favorite homeschool organizing trick is to use a rolling caddy for books, notebooks and manipulatives. One drawer contains supplies such as crayons, markers, and paper. It can move with her to wherever school is taking place!
Organizing Tip 7: Consider dining room storage.
We loved this suggestion from a veteran homeschooler: “My favorite trick for when we had our schoolroom in the dining room was to utilize my dining room hutch and buffet. Together, they consist of mostly closed off drawers and cabinets. … If you can find anything that looks like it is designed to be in a dining room, it may be a very sneaky way to store school stuff. The great thing is that I now have the choice to use it as a dining room hutch, now that we have space for desks in other places in our home.”