Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Organized Homeschool

By nature I am not an organized person. Generally I am ok with things out of place and as a Mom of many this has helped preserve my sanity more than a few times. Having said that though, I think our homeschooling runs more smoothly and efficiently when I take the time to get organized and stay organized. Because I am not a natural organizer it has taken me some time to discover an organization method that works best for our family. I have found that organizing each area so that it flows smoothly with another area is easiest for my personality and family.

Here is what I do in our school area:

1. Start with a bookshelf. The top is for the books my boys are currently using or will use in the near future. The bottom I use for my teacher manuals, workbooks the boys aren't using currently, and the various binders I use to organize paperwork (more about that below). Ideally all of my binders should have labeled spines, that is something still on my to-do list. On top of the book shelf is a 3 drawer mini Sterilite in which I store the colored pencils, crayons, and glue sticks. Also on top is our automatic pencil sharpener, 3-hole punch, tape dispenser, and a mini paper cuter. All of the books and supplies in the book shelf feed our workboxes.

2. Binders for every subject. I have binders for all of our subjects as well as a binder for Holiday activities.  Over time I have accumulated various e-books from well known curriculum companies. The e-books are great if they get used. My problem is that I would download them but never print them and file them so that we could use them and enjoy them at the appropriate time of the year. Now, I have a convenient place to file all the wonderful downloads I get for subjects such as Bible, science, and all the fun Holidays.

3. 6-drawer system and hanging folders for storage and filing. Next to the book shelf are two 3-drawer sterilite systems stacked on top of each other and a 2 drawer filing system. The sterilite drawers hold flash cards and various other school supplies. The filing cart on the bottom I use for storing printer ink cartridges and other supplies that generally only I use and need. The hanging file part of the cart is used to organize my kindergarten curriculum by letter of the alphabet. I also store cardstock and overflow paper supplies in that large drawer.

4.Workboxes, Workboxes, Workboxes!! I am so thankful that I discovered this system of organizing daily school work early in our homeschool journey. Sue Patrick details her method of organization in her book Sue Patrick's Workbox System A User's Guide. I have not read her book but have taken the general idea of the system and made it our own. Not only have the workboxes forced me to be organized and prepared for each school day but it has also added an element of responsibility and self-motivation for my boys. They can choose any box to work on so long as they don't take too long choosing. If they take too long staring at the boxes trying to decide then they know that I might make them do their work in numerical box order. They don't want this so dodling in front of the boxes has not been a problem. My Sterilite 5 drawer system fits nicely under an old computer desk we no longer used.

 5. A completed work basket is a must! When my boys are done they know exactly where to put their completed assignments. This helps keep loose papers from disappearing and gives the boys a distinct place to put their work as they finish. No longer do I hear "What do you want me to do with this when I am finished", now they know it ALL goes in the basket. The basket also serves as a reminder to me of the grading and checking I need to complete.  

6. Kindergarten work box. This year I am using My Father's World (MFW) Kindergarten with my young 5 year old son (aka Wee Man).  MFW has a few accessories that are required on a weekly basis to teach the lessons. For instance, I had a tub of flour that Wee Man enjoys writing his letters in once or twice a week. I also keep the picture sort cards in an old recipe box I painted and decorated. I also have another tub with capital and lower case letter cards and another tub with beans and number cards for more practice with adding and subtracting. If you add all that together along with the books for each week that relate to our letter of the week and my "Master" planning folder it equals a lot of stuff. To keep it all together and orderly I hold it all in a small storage bin.

 Old recipe box decorated for MFW picture cards

7. Lastly, "Moms Resource Binder". My binder is grand central station for our homeschool. In it I keep my weekly/yearly lesson planner and all the worksheets/copies/paperwork that I need on a regular basis. I use tabs to divide the binder into sections according to subject. For instance, I have Wee Man MFW worksheets behind one tab, history worksheets and tests behind another tab, spelling word lists in another section, etc. This has helped tremendously because now I know where everything is at and I am not scurrying around last minute to find a copy or worksheet I printed for that day's lesson.

Of course your homeschool and organizational preferences will look different than mine. However, hopefully this will give you an idea or two that you can incorporate into your own homeschool to help it run more efficiently. As a side note, I do not keep overflow or completed workbooks or topic reading books in our school area. To reduce clutter I keep those elsewhere in the house in a special cabinet.


  1. I love it! Organization is a must, for our day to run smoothly.
    Kim Buesing

  2. This is our first year, I am pretty OCD and haven't tried workboxes, although I do have a 6 drawer system I use for grammar and handwriting books and stuff. I like the inbox, and wonder how I could better use what I have, I included links to our beginning set up and mid year changes. Any thoughts would be great!



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