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August = Organization for Homeschool Moms

A little organization now means less chaos later.

Every August, we homeschool moms start feeling a little rise of panic in our chests as we consider all that we must accomplish before the beginning of school. We have books to buy, activities to schedule, lesson plans to create, rooms and closets to organize. It’s time for a little organization.

bookshelf organization

It’s tempting to skip this step and get right to the good stuff – buying new Ticonderoga pencils topped with perfectly formed rosy red erasers, fresh shiny notebooks in every color of the rainbow, cellophane wrapped packages of 3×5 cards, sticky notes, highlighters, rulers, and markers. It’s enough to bring a smile to every homeschool mom and child. A fresh new year with no mistakes in it… yet!

BUT before you go shopping, let’s get our house and mind in order. Only then will we know where we are going and what we need to get there.

When it comes to preparedness and organization for the school year, there are three areas that need our attention each August:

  1. Our space
  2. Our schedule
  3. Our mission (or goals)

At the end of every school year, we moms feel a bit tired and worn out. If you are anything like me, you make sure that your kids’ backpacks don’t have any food left in them from the last field trip or co-op day, but other than that, you decide to leave the rest and start your well-earned summer break.

That means that we have space that needs to be organized. So, let’s tackle it!

Organization of our space:

First, we must determine what needs to be organized in order to function well when school starts. For me, there are 2 primary places – our school room bookshelves and our school closet.

bookshelf organization

If your bookshelves get the use that mine get, then they can get pretty messy over time. I like to go through our shelves and pull out all books that we don’t intend to use again. I will list these at sites such as Homeschool Classifieds –ย – so that I can recoup some of my costs. If I will use the books again later, but not in the next year or two, I’ll box them up and label them for a future school year. This keeps our bookshelves from getting overly cluttered.

I also like to pull the books that we’ll be reading aloud together or on our own and assemble them all on one shelf for easy retrieval. No one wants to be spending large amounts of time looking for books, so make it easy on yourself and your kids.

When it comes to math books, spelling books, grammar texts, or any other textbook or workbook that will be used solely by one child, I put these in clear Sterilite bins labeled for that particular child who can then decorate it with markers and stickers to make it her own.

organization with clear totes

We store our bins neatly in our hall closet so that our dining room can stay neat and tidy. We pull the bins out for school in the morning and put them away each afternoon (usually).

Organization of our Schedule:

Next week, my blog post will be all about organizing your schedule. It is a big enough topic to have its own post, so keep an eye out for that.

For now, make sure that you have a calendar and notebook ready so that you can get your schedule in order as early as next week.

Organization of our Minds:

What are your hopes and dreams for this next school year? What would you like to accomplish? What would you like each child to accomplish? What activities do they each want to do? How will you make that happen?

There is a great deal of energy and organization that goes into planning a school year. We must take into consideration the “wants” and “needs” of our kids and our families in general. When we keep it all stored in our heads, deadlines get forgotten, goals get lost, plans go awry. Your mind is not a reliable long-term storage device. I’m sorry to break it to you, but we can only hold so much between our ears at a time. For this reason, it is important to write out what you hope to accomplish and set out some action steps to make that happen.

Here are two lists of questions for you to brainstorm about. One for you and one for each of your children:

A list of questions for you:

How many hours per day do I want to teach school?
What is the best time of day to work on school work with the kids?
Will we participate in aย co-op?
If so, have I sent in my registration yet?
Do I want to teach? If so, what?
How will I handle kids who are procrastinating?
What will my recourse be for kids who don’t finish their school work?
What will I do to feed my soul so that I can be a positive force in my children’s lives?
What activities will I participate in, without my kids, so that I have a life outside school?
Who will watch the kids when I am at this activity?
How will I get some much-needed alone time?

A list of questions for each child:

What grade is he/she in?
What subjects will we cover this year?
What goals do I have for him/her this school year?
What activities will he/she participate in?
Have I sent in the registration form for those yet?
How much will these activities cost?
Will I have the time to participate in this activity with him/her?
What can I do to show my love and approval to this child regularly?
How can I develop leadership skills in this child?
How can I develop a strong work ethic in this child?
How can I be a listening ear and encouragement for this child?

August is an exciting month! It holds promise for the future. It helps us get excited about a new season, a new grade, a new year. Let’s get our minds and our space in order this week so we can tackle our schedule next week. THEN we will be excited for the coming school year and ready to greet it with a smile, without panic or chaos.

What are you most looking forward to this school year?

10 Comments, RSS

  1. Lisa Vanderveen August 2, 2017 @ 11:39 am

    I love this post. Stopping everything at the end of June is exactly what happens here – even though I had the best of intentions to keep the kids going on some reading practice + math! We’re all just ready for the break.

    But, now it’s time to get back on track (or try to in the midst of 4H fair season ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and get organized for September! I’ll be printing this off so that I have it when I’m not on the computer. I especially love the questions to consider for each child! It’s been easy to lump them together as “my children” and I want to make sure they each feel loved & appreciated!

    • Terri Johnson August 3, 2017 @ 3:37 pm

      Yes, it’s been really good for me and my kids to consider each of them individually. It makes my job a little trickier, but their lives as kids more unique and meaningful.

  2. Sandy August 2, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

    When you box your books, is there any practical tips for storing them? I have the option of storing in a hot & humid attic or a garage with lots of dust and dirt?

    • Terri Johnson August 2, 2017 @ 6:36 pm

      I tape up the boxes well, label them, and store in the garage. I’ve never had moisture problems in there, but then again, I live in the Pacific Northwest where it is dry (as in not humid). I would say that as long as you tape them up, your books will be fine in your garage.

      • Sandy August 2, 2017 @ 7:01 pm

        We are by the coastal areas in NC, so cardboard just attracted waterbugs and cockroaches. Everythiny I store is in a plastic bin, I think I might just look for some that seal a little better than what I have now. I’m so hesitant to put a $100+ worth of books away to be ruined, so we are on bookshelf overload. At least it keeps me from getting more books. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Watchman on the Wall August 2, 2017 @ 10:00 pm

          Sandy just plastic wrap and vacuum seal your books individually (just like you would seal food.) Then you can put them in your plastic storage bins, anywhere that is convenient for you, and not worry about humidity.

          • Sandy August 10, 2017 @ 10:57 am

            Good idea! Thanks!!

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  4. Janell Young August 9, 2017 @ 11:18 am

    Appreciate the post and ideas. I’m assuming the 5 white bookshelves are your current school stuff? Could you post a picture of the Sterilite bins for each kid in the closet, please?

    • Terri Johnson August 9, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

      Yes, I could do that. We haven’t finished getting those ready, so I’ll post them next week. Right now, they are overflowing with papers from last year. ๐Ÿ˜‰