Monday, August 5, 2013

Nitty Gritty Homeschool Let's Get Organized.

This is the first in a 5 Day Series called Nitty Gritty Homschooling. 
Homeschooling is about Educating Your Kids.
In order to get things done, you must Organize 
Your Self, 
Your Students, 
Your Space, 
Your Stuff, 
Your Calendar
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1) Organize Your Self - Homeschooling means different things to different people; based on their methodology, pedagogy, #of kids, where and how they live and their beliefs about education. But here's the real deal. If you have undertaken the task of homeschooling, you have made a commitment to your kids and to society to educate them. In other words, you have undertaken a job, and an opportunity. So, first things first. In order to do a job well, you must get yourself organized. What's your plan, and how are you going to implement it?
1) Self Care - working out, drinking water, socialising (socialization for Mom is really the big issue in  homeschooling!), having fun, time with your spouse.
2) Tools - What do you need to do the job at hand? A computer, a library card, a printer, a once a month cooking partner, 2 dryers in the laundry room, better habits?
3) Continuing Ed. - how are you going to fan the flame of enthusiasm in the dead of winter or when little Joey really isn't getting how to do long division and doesn't care, stay jazzed about curriculum for the 120th day in a row, and keep focused on what's important? There are tons of books, conferences, MP3 downloads, on-line conferences. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has an on-line expo coming up! (check this out for the chance to win a free ticket)

2) Organize Your Students - Some kids are born organized and some kids never really learn it. I've had both and what I've found is that in a house with lots of people, lots of books and interests and, in our case, construction, having a centralized spot that is personalized makes every one's homeschooling life easier. We use bins- small Rubbermaid ones with the kids names on the sides- easy peasy. I also help the kids out by making notebooks for outsourced classes, personalizing folders, showing them how to use tabs areas, and how to handle papers that need to stay looking good to turn in at Tutoring Center
End of semester 5x 7" cards. Well loved, eh?
Each semester I make a 5 x7" card for the kids that I leave at my desk. On it I have everything they are doing, coded by method of delivery: text, CD, DVD, MP3, on-line, Tutoring Center, workbook, etc. Lastly, when I am really together, I print a weekly schedule from Donna Young and write down everything for the week by subject area.
3) Organize Your Space.
a) Where are your going to be homeschooling? Some folks have amazing homeschool rooms. We all love our first floor, with it's odd shaped dining room, tons of natural light and open floor plan and that's where we live and school. The buffet in the dining room is chock full of school supplies, the computer is close at hand, and our library cart is full up with good books. We also have 2 non-Internet computers on our second floor, that are heavily used for programs and writing. If your space is beautiful, but no one uses it, it's time to re-evaluate where you do school! If your space isn't beautful, check out Pinterest for some innspiration, and if it's not functional, take a good look at everything and overhaul!
b)  how are you going to manage your house as you homeschool? Cleaning, cooking, shopping? Routines and habits will help, training your kids how to do certain tasks and requiring them to do so will as well. Cooking and laundry seem to be the Achilles heel of any home- find a system that works for you and work the system!
4) Organize Your Stuff and how do you utilize it? We use white boards- large wall sized ones and small lap ones. We also have several large chalkboards throughout the house that we've made ourselves. (have I extolled the virtues of chalkboard paint lately?)
We go through pencils, pens and erasers at the speed of sound so I stock up, and make sure that we have a battery run pencil sharpener, along with a couple of manual ones close at hand.
5) Organize You Calendar -what days and months are you going to be homeschooling during? What will those days and months look like? Will you homeschool year-round, on a 6 week on-1 week off schedule, 4 days a week, or what? Will you do Circle Time  first, Bible, Math? We do skills in the a.m. and content in the afternoon. We school Labor Day through Memorial Day, and for the past couple of years, do large projects and reviews during the summer. We've followed our Tutoring Center and Co-op schedule.
Work Your Plan and Plan Your Work. Homeschooling is a lot about togetherness and creating a life-style of learning; it can include anything you can imagine, travel, nature studies, projects, delight directed learning, unit studies, virtual classes, tutoring, etc. But to really make the most of the opportunity of Homeschooling, and to really get things done, you need a plan. Take a day, or two or a week, schedule some time to think through what this year will look like. As Covey says, everything is created twice, once in your mind, and once in reality. So, do some brainstorming, assess the opportunities YOU have at hand, where you live, within YOUR budget, and come up with the grandest, most amazing plan you can. And then nail down some nitty gritty details.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey - a top down way to manage your life
Getting Things Done, Allen - a bottom up way to manage your life
The Simplified Pantry, Winkler - how to manage your pantry
Christi, the Coupon Coach - how to manage shopping
Schoolhouse Teachers web-site (free planners), tons of classes on-line.
Circle Time- how to manage your homeschool day.
Donna lesson plans
Motivated Moms (I haven't used them myself, but a fellow Crew member said they were amazing!)
FlyLady (a cleaning system)
Once a Month Cooking - a way to manage cooking
House Management, GG post on how to keep your house to a dull roar while homeschooling
How to Keep It All Straight, GG post on how to plan for your school year and work your plan.
Educational Influencers- GG  book list of top-notch educators.
I'd love to hear about how you organize your life and what your favorite resources are!

Come back all week long for more Nitty Gritty!
#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP
#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses
Summer Blog Hop


Crystal Mcclean said...

I'm in the process of trying to organise myself and everything else, but it's causing chaos instead! So I'm going to try one thing at a time and hope everything else finds its own way into place before September. Thank you for helping with the steps involved.

Joelle A. said...

Thanks for stopping by earlier and thanks for this post as well. This is where I struggle. Love the tips and will pin it for further review ;-)

Tonia said...

Great topic, Lisa. Sometimes new homeschoolers get so excited by all the choices and programs but those nitty-gritty details need to be addressed no matter what!