(This is a guest post by my blogger friend, Kristi, from SavvySchooling.com. Be sure to hop on over to her blog where you’ll find tons of helpful resources and organizational printables that will help you in your homeschooling journey!)
Homeschooling is a multi-faceted beast that sometimes seems to have a mind of its own and getting organized can be a challenge. Not only do you have the planning aspect to juggle, but there’s also the physical resources involved such as curriculum, books, and art supplies, not to mention what on earth you do with all the completed projects!
As with everything homeschooling, it may take some experimentation to find what works for you. Most importantly, you have to come up with a system that works for your homeschool that you can stick with! Trying to force a method of organization that doesn’t mesh with your personality or preferences is a recipe for disaster and likely will leave you worse off than when you started.
Here are some things I have learned over the years that help me organize my homeschool:
- If you’re new to homeschooling or looking to revitalize your current school set up (no matter how long you’ve been homeschooling), I recommend you create a Homeschool Environment Plan. This will help you focus on some key aspects of your school and help you frame the direction you want to go. I created a downloadable worksheet to help get you started – get it here!
- I highly recommend getting and using Google Drive. It’s free and it allows you to keep everything in one place (including non-Google files). Whatever you create or save can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection and you can get apps for your smartphone. You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, fillable forms, and more. Plus you can share what you create with others if you’re looking to collaborate or need feedback. I have found it to be a robust tool and I use it all the time! (And no, I’m not an affiliate for Google or anything…this is my own, freely given opinion!)
- Look at where you keep your curriculum and activity ideas. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get your ideas scattered all over the place, both in online and offline places. Consolidating them in one place will do wonders for your organization. If you’re more of a pen and paper person, I recommend buying one notebook or binder that is strictly reserved for homeschool ideas. If you prefer to keep everything electronically, pick a central place (like a file in your Google Drive or a Pinterest board…though Pinterest can become a black hole so be careful with that!) I have recently found Facebook’s save links feature to be very useful for saving things I come across but can’t get to immediately. Whatever location you choose, make sure you keep it all together in a way that makes sense to you.
- Bookshelves, filing cabinets, and those plastic drawer carts you can buy at Target or Walmart work great for organizing all your physical supplies such as curricula, books, art supplies, notebooks, etc. If you have children in multiple grade levels, you can mark out a space for each child to keep all their school materials. This could be as simple as a shelf on a bookshelf or a drawer in a filing cabinet. Keeping each child’s work separate makes it easy for you to find what you need come lesson time.
- For storing completed work, purchase a set of office supply boxes and select one for each of your children. Mark the current school year on it and put everything that your child completes during that year inside. I know some projects might not fit but most everything you do can be kept in that box. This way, you’ll have everything together in case you need to go back and reference it, which can be especially important if you have stringent state requirements and have to prove that work was completed. You won’t have to scramble to get everything together. Plus it serves as an awesome reminder of all the hard work you and your child put into that school year!
- Finally, what do you use to plan your lessons? Whether it’s a binder, a calendar, a spreadsheet, or planning software, make sure you’re consistent about using it and that it’s easy to edit. I personally LOVE Homeschool Planet. It has so many robust features and it is so easy to add and change your lesson plans on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. It was definitely built with the homeschool family in mind and has a lot of features for record-keeping too. (Again, I‘m no affiliate for this planner! This is completely my own opinion.) For more information on scheduling and lesson planning, see my post on Creating Your Homeschool Schedule.
There is no exact science to homeschool organization and every homeschool is different. Your homeschool space (whether large or small) and your personality/style will have a major impact on how you choose to get organized. But these tips should go a long way to helping you figure out your own system.
My name is Kristi and I blog about homeschooling and parenting at SavvySchooling.com. I have a wonderful and supportive husband and two amazing sons (one is almost 6 and the other is 6 months). I have an education degree and a background in marketing. I homeschool my oldest and plan to homeschool my youngest once he gets older. Homeschooling and parenting are my two major passions in life so I’m always looking for ways to learn more about it and also be an encouragement to others!