Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Homeschooling for Beginners--Getting Organized

I've received many questions and requests for more information about our homeschooling day and overall homeschool experience, so I decided to turn my answers into a series. This series will dig into our homeschool life, curriculum, and schedule. When we first decided to homeschool (read "Why We Homeschool" for our story), I was really overwhelmed and didn't even know where to start, so we started at the beginning. Which is where this series is starting...the very beginning of the homeschool journey.

Whether you're a veteran homeschooler, a new homeschooler, are undecided, or wondering if there are sane people who actually homeschool, I hope you enjoy this series!

You've decided to homeschool. Great! Now what? The options are overwhelming...where do you start?

Before you start tackling the nitty gritty things like curriculum, lesson planning, and schedules, you first need to settle on the basics of organization. Once you're organized, everything else comes easier.

Set up a School Area
Ideally, you'll want a dedicated area for school. We didn't have an extra bedroom, so we converted the formal dining room into a school area. It faces our front door so I have (to try in futility) to keep it clean, but it's a good place for Stinker to sit and do her work without getting too distracted. (Check out our DIY School Table Cover to see her school desk.) If you don't have any separate spaces to use for a school area, the kitchen table works just fine as well. But, you'll want to make sure you limit distractions during school time inasmuch as possible. (Food distracts my kids like nothing else!)

Set up Storage for School
I didn't realize how much storage I was going to need when I first started homeschooling. I thought a single drawer would hold everything. Haha. How wrong I was. I didn't start out with a clear vision for storage, and soon, books were stacked all over the house, crayons and markers were littered amongst various drawers, and I could never find a clean sheet of paper when I needed it.  

I found the above storage unit at Ikea, and immediately it made my life easier. The bins hold school supplies, school books and curriculum, lined and plain paper, construction paper and art supplies, and folders with Stinker's completed work.

Everything has a place, so the area looks nice, I don't lose anything too much stuff, and an organized room encourages learning.

Start a Homeschool Notebook
I love themed binders. So. Much. But, while it may be my OCD showing, a homeschooling binder really will help streamline your days. When you first start out, it will be empty, but eventually it will contain lesson plans, worksheets, a calendar, curriculum/lesson ideas for the future, notes on schoolwork, test scores, and even contacts for other homeschooling parents. A well-organized school is a happy school! 

Next time, I'll talk about how to select curriculum...

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