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Homeschooling

Guest Post: Start Your Homeschool Year Right

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Welcome back to our Guest Post series! Today, we have a post for you from Adriana over at Homeschool Ways. Adriana is also on the Schoolhouse Crew with me this year, and I am glad to have found her blog through the crew.

You’ll find lots of neat stuff on Homeschool Ways, like her encouraging Mom Monday posts with tips and tricks to help make motherhood and homeschooling work for you, and French Fridays, where you’ll get tons of french language resources to help you teach the kiddos.

I hope you enjoy the post, and when you’re done here, head over to Homeschool Ways to check out Adriana’s other work!

-Heather

Tips to start your homeschool year right

As our second homeschool year drew closer and closer, I spent most of my time organizing and planning. Last year, we experimented with different routines and methods. We hope the lessons learned will make for a smoother, more fun homeschool experience.

Here are the five steps I followed to get ready for the new homeschool year:

1. Tame curriculum.

I have two children but only one is homeschooled officially. You would think organizing a school room for one student is a piece of cake. Not so fast. In addition to the 3 Rs, my son is also taking history and science this year. Add to that music, art, Romanian, and French. Boom! You have to put nine textbooks on a shelf. Plus workbooks. Plus manipulatives. Eek!

Then, as soon as we get done with his phonics curriculum, we will start spelling. Once he finishes the handwriting curriculum (which teaches him the mechanics of forming letters and words), we will start a writing curriculum (which gives him copywork practice and teaches him how sentences are formed). And then, there’s grammar. We will start that in the second semester, but, of course, I took advantage of great sales in July and got my books already.

Shelf with canvas bins, labeled for different school subjects
Shelf and canvas bins from Big Lots, free labels from online

My preK student also has several workbooks for her level, just because we buy sets (like the Rod and Staff Preschool bundle). We do not push her to work with pen and paper. She wants to. She asks for it. We oblige, for 10-15 minutes a day.

Then, she joins us for history and science. She wants to draw a whale like her brother, for instance, after we read about whales. She wants to do mapwork and color history worksheets. So, naturally, I have a few binders for her to keep her work organized.

In a cross between the Container Store and the Workbox System, we came up with this shelf idea: beige for our son, purple for our daughter. He has six containers and she has three. We found everything at Big Lots. I don’t know what we will do in a few years. I don’t want to think about it. For now, I declare myself satisfied with this system.

 

2. Organize books.

And by “books” I mean the living books we have accumulated over the years: board books, picture books, chapter books, all 450 of them. I printed out free book bin labels found online, bought baskets from Family Dollar, and organized away. The whole process, including driving to the store and back, took me four hours, but it was worth it.

Book bins with labels
Shelf #1

My kids love it. They promised to remember where they get each book from. If they don’t, they know to come to me and ask for help.

Bonus: my preK student has started recognizing the words on the labels. She wants to know where her favorite books are.

Shelf with living books in baskets
Shelf #2 – I am in no hurry to fill the empty basket

 

3. Keep school supplies organized.

Last year, I printed out school supply labels from Scholastic. I got CD boxes from Walmart and we never needed to spend five minutes looking for erasers, or scotch tape, or scissors or anything else. We all knew where to get stuff. When we were done with it, we put it back.

Bins for school supplies - free labels from Scholastic.com
Bins for school supplies – free labels from Scholastic.com

You can tell these labels have seen better days, but I decided not to change them. I think it gives them character. It says that we have used them and they work. Plus, how cute is my daughter’s scribble on one of the labels? So no, I was not ready to update the labels. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

 

4. Plan curriculum.

I experimented with several planners last year, because I am a planner and a perfectionist. Finally, I decided on the paper TOS Hey, Mama! Planner. It’s a bit more tedious than the computer version, but I like how tangible it feels. Plus, I use a pencil, which means I can erase at any moment and start from scratch.

By the way, I don’t worry if I get behind a few days or even weeks. I keep plugging along and know that, eventually, we will get things done.

 

5. Organize audio books.

I wish I could say that I am there by now, but not yet. Just to prove that mom bloggers are not 100% prepared and perfect all the time. Take heart, fellow homeschool mom! We blog because we care about encouraging fellow travelers on this journey, not because we have it all together.

 

Which reminds me, I have some laundry calling my name…

 

Adriana Zoder never thought she would homeschool her two children, but here she is and loving every moment of it. Hubby was not too sure about homeschooling either, but, after experiencing the fun and the success, he got on board. Adriana is a polyglot, a blogger, a newspaper columnist, and an author. Her book, 101 Tips for Preschool at Home is available from Amazon.

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