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There's a popular rumor that homeschool moms are super-organized. Sure, some of us are, but I'm among those for whom organization does not come naturally. I can't live up to that particular homeschool myth, and it's a constant challenge to keep track of where the books are, and whether I graded that paper or not, and when the deadline is to register for that online course, and so it goes. I've given up on having my desk and bookshelves always beautifully organized, and focus on keeping things functional.
Here are a few tips for homeschool organization, for the Not Naturally Organized moms like me.
Try to keep your lesson plans simple.
I actually love lesson planning, but planning and doing are two different things. The lesson plan doesn't do me or my kids much good if it's unrealistic, or if it's not clear what's supposed to be done when. I've learned to limit the amount of time I spend writing down (or typing) all the details of every subject. I start by simply figuring out how to divvy up the coursework over a semester or school year fairly evenly so I have a goal of something like "one unit of science curriculum per week". Since I use an online planner, I don't write much of my lesson plan by hand any more. (If you prefer handwritten lesson plans and are organizationally challenged, I recommend keeping your notes as short as possible.) One thing I love about using Homeschool Tracker Online is that I don't have to write everything out again if we're interrupted or I need to make a change. I just use the reschedule tool and adjust the due dates. I print out assignment lists by subjects for each of the kids about a month at a time, so they have a checklist of what to do and in what order.
Stay on top of grading or checking schoolwork.
This is one of my biggest challenges, and every time I get behind and have all kinds of history review questions to check all at once, I promise myself I will stay on top of it better from now on. It's a hassle for me to have to grade or check a big stack of stuff at once, and it's unfair to my kids, especially if they've struggled with something and I don't help them get it right before they've made a habit of doing it wrong. My kids are old enough to do most of their work independently, so my goal at this point is to check up on what they're doing every day and to get the grading done at least once a week. Since I give them a printed assignment lists, they can check off what they've done and we can see at a glance whether they are on track or not. Moms with younger students will probably need to check work every day.
Get your stuff together in a way that works for you.
Part of the reason I struggle with staying organized is that I want my bookshelf or filing system to be perfect, but I know it will take more time than I have to get it that way, so I procrastinate, thinking I'll have more time later. Or maybe I get something "perfectly" organized and then realize that in everyday life I'm not going to be able to maintain that. My solution is to simplify. My expectations must be realistic so I'm trying to go for functional first. I've got one section of my bookcase and one book crate beside my desk that are designated for the teacher's editions and the schoolbooks that are my responsibility. It would be nice if it was more beautiful, but at least it's all together and I know which stack to find the answer key in. My kids are responsible for keeping their own books and spaces reasonably tidy. Sad to say I haven't set a good example for this!
A schedule or routine can be your friend.
I'm betting that most of us that are organizationally challenged also have trouble sticking to a strict schedule, and maybe have trouble meeting deadlines. I know I do, but having a few predictable routines helps us. For example, since we have gym class, choir, and Civil Air Patrol on Tuesdays, that's also library day and the day I usually run errands. We're driving to town twice so I'll be going right by the library and can easily drop things off and pick up the holds that are waiting for me. When the kids were younger and we did Science and History all together, we started the morning with those subjects.
Train the kids to keep track of their own stuff.
This can feel strange - trying to teach your kids to do something that you're not good at. I look at this way: if they can keep track of their stuff, then I don't have to! And really, you want to move your kids towards independence so this is probably necessary. Depending on their ages, give your kids the responsibility to keep their schoolbooks organized, date their own work, check off their assignments completed, and set their own daily routines. We found My Student Logbook to be a very helpful tool in getting kids into the habit of keeping themselves organized. In fact, I might need to buy Kennady another one and get her back in the habit of checking off those lists!
My related articles:
Homeschool Organization for the Artful Stacker (on The Homeschool Post)
Are you naturally organized - or not? What's your best tip for homeschooling when you're not naturally organized? Leave a comment and let me know!
This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet, hosted by Cristi at Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Meg at Adventures with Jude. This week participating bloggers are featuring the letter N.
These are my thoughts on "How Do I Homeschool When . . . I'm Not Naturally Organized?". Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see other Crew members' thoughts on homeschooling through various situations in the How Do I Homeschool When . . . Round-up, which will be live on Friday, February 5th.
I'm also linking up at the Homeschool Mother's Journal hosted by NextGenHomeschool, because this is What's Working For Us this week!
This post is also linked to the 5 Days of Homeschool 101 - Planning link-up.
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