I am the kind of person that needs some type of structure to function, but I am also the kind of person who rebels at too much structure. I picture it like a horse in a pasture. I need the fence to keep me where I am supposed to be, but I need the open space within the fence to move around and explore.
I guess I’m a jumble of chaos on the inside because I need some order on the outside. One of my pet peeves is not being able to find what I what I need when I need or having things fall out at me when I am looking for something. I really hate trying to pull something off a shelf and have other items come out with it, or opening a cupboard to look for a pencil and the 3 hole punch falls on my foot. (Ouch!)
I am a perfectionist though and so many times I have been so hard on myself because my system was “perfect”. I’m learning to relax though and I’m learning to find the fence and give allowance for my open space.
If you haven’t guessed by now this week’s Blog Cruise question asks “How do you organize your homeschool?” My first response was “I can’t write about that. I am so NOT organized.” But you see that was the perfectionist talking. I wasn’t going to respond to this week’s question at all but I woke up this morning realizing that I do have some structure in place. It’s not perfect but for the most part it works to give me a sense of order so that I can corral the chaos.
But before I get to what *is* working for me, let me share about some organization tip that I tried last year that didn’t work for me, but maybe it will inspire you and work for you?
A Working Binder for Mom: I still love this idea but I just didn’t *use* it the way I intended it to be used. The idea was to have about 3 weeks’ worth of materials that I needed for teaching my four girls. Each girl had a tab and behind that tab would be the Sonlight Study Guides needed for those weeks along with the IG Scheudule pages and my own assignment calendar from HST+ . I had tabs for subjects like science where I kept copies of Science Lab sheets.
The perfectionist in me says “Don’t look too closely.” You might notice that it says 2009-2010 because I haven’t set it up for the current school year. I am trying to squash the voice of the perfectionist. The way I set it up last year didn’t work. I’m trying something different this year and maybe I’ll get around to putting on a new label. I do like having a binder with master copies of answer keys and sheets that we need such as Science lab but it just doesn’t work for me to have a tab for each girl. I could try to make myself fit the organization but I’m too lazy to change me so I’m changing the organization to to fit me.
So what have I organized (albeit imperfectly) that is working for me?
School Supply Bins: Let me show you!
There are bins for crayons, markers, stickers, flashcards, animal counters etc. This has worked out very well for us for the last couple of years. We started out using this bin years and years ago when the girls were little. We used it for storing toy or “toy sets”. All the cars were in one bin, the little people farm stuff in one bin, the tea cups in another etc. It isn’t always perfectly organized and I can get really frustrated at times when I pull out the stickers for Supergirl and some sister has just tossed a bunch of crayons on top of the stickers but for the most part I can find what I need when I need it and things don’t come tumbling down on top of me.
I don’t have a picture to share but I have another idea that we’ve used for years that works really well.
Magazine Racks to hold workbooks: I got so frustrated with trying to keep workbooks or any soft cover thin book on the book shelf. They don’t stand up well and when you pull one out books fall over and it’s frustrating for young people. Oh and we would *lose* workbooks. So each girl has a large size rack that holds spiral notebooks, timeline notebook, workbooks and anything else that won’t stand on a shelf nicely. I have several that I use for storing teacher guides/answer keys. I have one for Math which holds the MUS teacher guides and the Right Start Math Games and Level A instruction materials. I have another one for our Greek stuff and another one for that holds my teacher books for things like Grammar and Learning Language Arts through Literature. Like any system though, it only works if you actually use it. So, though we are more likely to not lose things and more likely to find what we need, there is still the (not always rare) occasion when a student fails to put the notebook/workbook back in the rack or they put it in the WRONG one. *sigh* The perfectionist hasn’t yet learned to cope well with the lack of cooperation. But for the most part it works very well for us!
One last tip (with pictures too!) for organizing a literature based home school.
Labeled Books: We use Sonlight and that means lots of books. We use more than one Core so that means even more books. I have found it easier to both label books and dedicate a shelf to each current core. The label serves as a visual reminder of which set the book belongs to and it makes it easier in the future when I am pulling books from the general shelves when repeat a core with another daughter.
The pale yellow color indicates Core 100. The letter H means history and the letter L means literature. Other labels would be R for reader and RA for Read Aloud. R’s and RA’s are not part of Core 100.
Because I am trying to get over my perfectionism I will end this with a picture of my not yet labeled Core 200 books. Someday I’ll get them labeled but I refuse to give in to the perfectionist and think that I can’t start reading them until they are labeled.
Be sure and check out what my fellow crew mates have to say about organizing their home schools!