FEB
16
2011

10 Days of Homeschooling Enrichment: Day 9

Welcome to Day 9 of Homeschooling Enrichment! Now that we’ve discussed curriculum, today we’re going to talk about how to organize our homeschool room and all that fun curriculum you ordered! My hope is to give you some tangible things you can do to help facilitate a smoother less frustrating schooling day!

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Listen ladies (and gentlemen)…homeschooling isn’t for sissies or the faint hearted! This calling placed upon our lives is a blessed and difficult task. One that we will fail at miserably, if we strive to complete it in our own flesh.

So what are our options? Well, if you haven’t started at Day 1, turn right back around and head back that way! If you’ve been with me the last 8 days then you should be spitting out your coffee yelling “Jesus! Jesus has the answers!”

The prospect of starting to homeschool, or even continuing on through tomorrow, can be {ahem} slightly overwhelming. The good news is that we don’t have to do it on our own! God has provided us with everything we need to complete every good work!

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

It’s confession time again…at the start of last year, I was intimidated by the sheer thought of teaching a 2nd grader, 1st grader and preschooler all at once, while at the same time keeping the Teeny Tot from coloring all over herself with markers.

I really wasn’t sure how to handle 4 children all needing me simultaneously, while flipping through teacher’s manuals, and listening to everyone ask me “what’s next?”. Even worse, I wouldn’t know what was next! The idea of organizing our day was just almost more than I could handle.

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Enter Workboxes!

As I’m sure most of you know by now, I’m a HUGE workbox fan! Honestly I’m just not sure how I would actually homeschool without them at this point. You can click here to see how I structure my workboxes in detail but the principle is simple:

One subject/task per box.

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Above is a generic sample of how I structure our day for my 2nd grader. You can download a copy of this for yourself. I add a new sheet to my excel workbook for each week.

One thing that I HIGHLY encourage you to do is prepare. This is our child’s education we’re talking about and it deserves our full focus. I started out my homeschooling venture flying by the seat of my pants. I had a curriculum, but I didn’t really bother to open it until day 1 when I turned to Lesson 1 and said “Let’s see what we’re doing today.”

Now, I did make it through those first couple years without much preparation, but my days were chaotic and I was definitely stressed out. In an attempt not to repeat past failures, I decided to take the following summer and prepare my year in advance.

I spent the summer deciding what was going to go in our workboxes. I assigned what lesson would go in what box, and what crafts we would do. I even shopped for our crafts in advance so I wouldn’t have any excuse not to do the “fun stuff”! I know that sounds crazy, but I spent way less overall, and we’ve actually done all our crafts!

If it’s the middle of the year for you and you’re feeling stressed out and frazzled, consider taking 1 week off to get yourself organized. I guarantee it will make the rest of the year much more enjoyable and, really what’s one week in the grand scheme of things?

This was by far the best year we’ve had.

Preparation can take the stress out of homeschooling for you. Let’s go back to Day 1 when we talked about creating a vision for our homeschool. Imagine running a race without knowing where the finish line is. If things are laid out, you’re familiar with what you’re doing. You know where your finish line is which makes it easier to stay on task. You know when it’s okay to take a day off here or there, and when it’s not. You won’t be taken by surprise by being unprepared for a craft or project, and you’ll actually have more time to include fun stuff into your day. And you can finally relax and enjoy the year!

This does take time on your part. I sit down with each of my teacher’s manuals and flip through each lesson writing down what needs to go in that box for each day. For some subjects it’s simple, like math. They do lesson 1, lesson 2, lesson 3 and so on. Sometimes there are extra manipulatives to add in the boxes, but mostly we just move on to the next lesson.

Once the core boxes are complete, I add in anything fun that I can to compliment whatever we’re studying at the time. Sometimes I’ll even surprise my kids with a snack box!

One thing I want to mention here is that the workboxes do NOT replace your teaching your children. Barring any disastrous predicaments the Teeny Tot has gotten herself into, I am in the room “teaching” my kids during the entire school day. I do my best to avoid phone calls and checking my emails. That is why if you email, you may not hear from me until the afternoon! Not because I don’t care, but because I actually DO homeschool!

I also alternate my kids boxes so that I can have a teaching time with one while the other is doing something independent such as handwriting. Sometimes this means having an older kiddo play with the Teeny Tot or help my preschooler while I’m teaching another one.

All these things have come around as we’ve tweaked, changed, re-focused and re-organized our vision on homeschooling. I hope this helps you to get some grasp on getting organized!

Note: If you have older kids you can modify the workboxes to a canvas tote or file folder system instead, but the principle will still be the same.

The next thing I did was purchase some cheap shelving from Target. (No Ikea here yet, sigh…) I put similar items in each cubby hole, so for example the top right spot is our math maniupulatives, the next one is our books, the top left are all of our dry erase gooks and cards, and so on. If you have a spot for all of your fun things, then the chances of them getting put away are much better! And so are the chances of finding them again when you need them!

“A place for everything, everything in it’s place!”

~ Benjamin Franklin

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Today’s Challenge:

Take some time to organize your kids school work, and your school room, so that it’s meets the functional needs of your family!

Here are some more home organization posts that may help:

If you are into workboxes, here are some goodies for you!

Stick around tomorrow for our last day of Homeschooling Enrichment where we’ll be talking about schedules, structure & making learning fun!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

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Comments

  1. I've just started using the workbox system with the space saver version you recommended on your site. I have a preschooler and a toddler–this system saved the day! With such short attention spans, they easily lost focus while I turned my back to get the crayons, etc. But with this new system, everything they need for the day is right there. All I have to say is, "Okay, let's see what's next." They peak into their folders and start the next activity. Even my two year old really enjoys taking her workbox number off and placing it on her grid. In the meantime, I'm teaching them both to count to ten! A two-for-one! Can't say enough about this method.

  2. I have really enjoyed these past 9 days…of my "Mommy/coffee..quick read homeschool enrichment time" :)Thanks!!

  3. We also use the workbox system, and we love it. It makes my teaching, and our school day much, much easier.Thank you for another great post!

  4. Good morning! I just read your fantastic post, scrolled up to find your follow me spot, and there was your "Gabby Moms" button. I shouted out, "Oh, she's a Gabby Mom!" and made my 3 men jump, ha ha!I hopped over from Special Needs Homeschooling. I am one of Heather's groupies. Thank you for doing this blog hop! I have chosen a different blog each day to hop to, and each day it's something I need. God knows!I will be coming back to your blog to start at Day 1. Do you have any posts on keeping YOURself together between blogging, momming, wifeing, teaching, friending, living? Jenny in MIfellow Gabby Mom

  5. When you say you take the summer to go through the Teacher's Manuals and you write down what you will need for the work box for each lesson. Where do you write it? Is it in a binder, a form of some kind? After looking at the spreadsheet you had posted I wasn't sure if this is what you used for that.

  6. Sharon: I write down what I'm going to put in each box on the above workbox worksheet. You can download it here:http://www.4shared.com/file/146593921/218cba24/workboxtemplate.htmlSo I fill it out for each child's week. Then print and put in a binder, that way I can just pull out the sheet each week and then I put whatever it says to put in the boxes.

  7. ZAIDA: Yes, I just take pictures as I’m teaching. I put my camera down for when I’m explaining something, then take pics when they are working. If a picture doesn’t turn out, oh well :o) I don’t add it in, or I just pick the best one I have! I take lots of pictures too so I have a few options. My kids are used to the camera now, and my preschooler always tells me “I’m ready Mom” meaning she’s done with her work and ready for her picture! LOL! I blog about it later on usually in the evenings when the kids are in bed!

  8. Thank you soooooooo much!! I figured that's what you do… thank you again.. I am an avid follower!

  9. I checked on JoAnn's becase I have all similar kids' ages as yours and have been looking into different options for org…the product you use for workboxes doesn't get many high reviews in terms on "staying on tracks" etc, when pulling the boxes in and out– has this been your experience? I like this system best out of all options I've looked into, but I def. want to put money into something that I'll LOVE. Thanks for all the info. on your site! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

  10. K. Humiston: I read those reviews as well and have gotten lots of questions on the boxes. For us they've been GREAT! I haven't had any issues with them, we pull them open, grab out the materials and shut them. I guess we don't really "Man-handle" them or anything though. I've had the Teeny Tot try to climb up the boxes once, and she pulled them over. We had to pick up a mess, but otherwise no one got hurt and the boxes were all fine and intact.We put heavy and light stuff in and so far no issues. I did NOT put the wheels on, I figured that would help stabilize them some. They're metal frames so sturdier than any rubbermaid drawers I have. And I can't imagine they are any more or less sturdy than the shoe racks that the workbox system recommends.We've had ours almost 2 full school years so far and you couldn't take 'em from me if you tried!

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