Sunday, August 4, 2013

House Management: Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

One of the biggest stressors for the homeschooling mom is how to manage both home and homeschool. It can be a daunting task. The birth, baby, and toddler years can be particularly physically exhausting, leaving little time to manage things well. I have to admit that managing our home and homeschool has gotten infinitely easier as we’ve had a larger house, less people, and as our people have gotten older and more responsible! Life is seasonal, and it’s important to remember that you won’t always have a toddler wrecking havoc in your life!  That being said, here is what I’ve learned over the years.
Managing Your Home
First rule of thumb: Include your kids in the care and cleaning of your home from a young age. Building work and cleaning habits makes life easier. I’ve also discovered the joy of Norwex products (I’m not a consultant). Easy bathroom cleaning, chemical free! Speaking of which, our kids clean the bathrooms each week-end.
A friend told me years ago that if your bed is made and dishes washed, it counts as a clean home. Making your bed in the morning is a simple task that can bring you peace.
Dishes, however, are ubiquitous. If you don’t have a dishwasher, beg, borrow. or steal to get on!. It will save you hours in the kitchen and give you the ability to have a clean kitchen even if the dishes are not. This said by a woman who has and has not had one. It’s relaxing to wash dishes if you have the choice. It’s a grind if you are washing dishes for 7 people who eat 3 homemade meals a day, 7 days a week.
shop for food once a week, less if I can get by with it, saving me time and money.  I often make main dishes or cook meat for the week all at once and then freeze in meal size portions. In the past I’ve done once a month cooking, including for breakfasts and lunches.
Laundry: manage it or it will manage you. Find a system that works and use it. In our house, kids over 10 learn how to start a load of laundry, and put it in the dryer, and everyone knows how to sort.  We hang up larger items to air dry, I fold, and everyone helps put clothes away. Even our toddlers have learned how to carry a pile of clothes to a bedroom or the kitchen towel drawer.
Our kids have daily jobs: animal care, trash, loading and unloading dishwasher, etc. We also “pick up” the house together or I will assign kids to “pick up X number of items.” My goal is not a spotless home, but neat and orderly. I personally find clutter and mess to be very distracting and neatness calming.
We limit toys to specific types (Playmobile, legos) and they each go in separate bins. We take things to our local Goodwill regularly, and bless others with extras as well. I also try to cull homeschool material each spring and sell it or give it away, unless I know it’s something we’ll use later.

Managing Homeschool
Work stations (these work for a dedicated school room or all over the house schooling)
Art area and space for drawing pads, art books, supplies
CD playing area for books on tape
Computer workstation (non-internet); downloads, CD’s like ¼ mile math. (Our kids have their own flash drives.)  Computer workstation (internet): classes on-line, internet connected programs such as Adventus or Supercharged science.
Craft supply area (currently a side of our buffet) full of glue sticks, google eyes, paper, cool scissors, etc.
Cupboard for puzzles, games, educational toys
Dining room table or large workspace for seat work
Dress up area for littles
DVD viewing area (Great Courses, Science DVD’s, etc)
Library cart -for library materials that need to be returned.
Map/Globe area
Memory work area- shoebox storage for cards or copies, small white board or larger white board/markers.
Personal library area -books sorted by subject, topic, etc.
Personal reading areas- these are all over the inside and outside of the house- the tramp is a favorite place!
Read aloud area.
Sensory bins/area for littles
Supply station- paper, pens, 3- hole punch, staples, scissors, etc.
Bin It
We’ve tried different systems for the kid’s text/workbooks but the one we always come back to is bins. Each student has their own Rubbermaid bin that holds all of their workbooks and texts for the year. I have a bin too, for stuff we are doing together, Teacher’s Manuals, etc. These are stored at a large desk near our main work area.
Card It
Each semester I make a 5 x 7 note card for each student, with all of the classes they are taking and course work they are responsible for; this is coded with the type of class it is: on-line, CD, DVD, book, hands-on, etc. This is kept in a central location for the kids to refer to.  I’ve also used a weekly to-do sheet that I print off-line. The weekly sheet lists what to do and how much of it. I use mostly open and go material that I very familiar with. I rarely switch to unfamiliar curriculum, and choose curriculum based on methodology and pedagogy from a limited number of curriculum suppliers that I know and love. Choosing curriculum in this way has saved us much time and money.
Daily Organization: – Skills in the morning and content work in the afternoon.
The kids start at the dining room table and do math, English, foreign language, handwriting, spelling, memory work etc. We also use several computer (both on-line and CD) programs so the kids are switching off on computers throughout the day.
In the afternoon, we’ll read history together, watch science via DVD, Bible study or be in the kitchen for a science experiment. I’ve always allowed the kids to draw or play Legos, knit, etc as I read aloud (for history, science, etc) as long as they can narrate back. We take art seriously and have a shelf full of drawing books available for reference.
We have a read-aloud going most, if not all of the time and listen to books on tape during projects, free time and in the car going to town.
Weekly Organization
We organize our school week around our weekly co-op and academic class day- this takes us out of pocket 2 days a week. We try to fit in outside classes as much as possible on those days and then keep the remaining 3 days at home clear to really focus on school. For some this schedule would really be taxing, but we live way out in the country, so the days that we are home we are able to fully focus on school. The days that we are in town we really enjoy people ; ). The key is to find a schedule that works for your personality, your life-style, your family and let it work for you!
What are your best home/homeschool management tips/ tricks?
This post was originally published by The Homeschool Toolbox

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