Looking forward to a new school year can be a profitable time of planning and organizing. Here are some tips that I hope you’ll find helpful in having a successful homeschool year. I know that there is a lot of information in this post and many of these points could be a post (or a book) by themselves, so please don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m not where I want to be with some of these, but I find writing things down helps me work towards my goals.
Organize Your School Books
Have a convenient place for your homeschool books. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Some people have dedicated school rooms, but right now that’s not possible for us. And when it has been, guess what? We ended up doing school in the dining room anyway. Right now, we store half of the boys’ school books in a desk in the dining room and the other half in a desk in the two older boys’ bedroom.
I organized our books this year by using different colored washi tape for each grade. (I used this kind.) Am I weird if my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon is applying washi tape to books? (I don’t have all my oldest son’s books. That’s why we have an almost empty shelf. And I’m not quite done organizing so a few things are missing.)
Make a Schedule
My kids do a whole lot better and the day goes a whole lot more smoothly when we have a schedule to follow. This doesn’t have to be a detailed-every-minute-planned-out schedule. For some of you this may be helpful, but for others, a rough schedule will do. If the order of subjects is written down for them, it helps eliminate a lot of wasted time in our day wondering what to do next. And it also helps if I’m available to help out for the subject that they need help with. With four kids and a toddler, this takes some planning on my part. Here’s a schedule we used several years ago. I still have to make one for this year.
Plan Activities for the Younger Kids
If you have toddlers, make sure that you have activities planned out for them to do. If possible, having the older children take turns entertaining the little ones can be a great idea. This works especially well if you have children that can easily afford to take time off of their own school work. Even fifteen-minute segments can be a big help.
I have a nineteen-month-old, so I set up some simple workboxes and hope to rotate these throughout the day. Am I going to be super-scheduled about this? No, but it will help me if I have some activities preplanned. Ideally, I would have worked on her before school started to get her used to the idea of cleaning up each box before she starts a new one, but time for this is running short.
I just used items I had around the house or things I bought at garage sales. For storage, I used one dollar plastic storage totes. The large box for the blocks I covered with adhesive shelf paper. There are a lot of beautiful organization totes out there if you don’t mind spending more. If you feel like getting creative, check out this treasure trove of busy bag/busy box ideas.
Buy the Proper School Supplies
It’s important to have the proper supplies on hand. This will vary from household to household, but for us that includes Frixion erasable pens to use on the beautiful Heart of Dakota notebook pages and Prismacolor colored pencils. These make such a difference in the quality of my children’s artwork.
Make a Meal Plan
Planning out simple lunches can streamline your day. For me, lunch can be the biggest time waster. Either have something simple planned like sandwiches or consider doing crock pot meals. There are so many great websites that can help you with this. Here are a few to get you started.
- 31 Freezer Prep Sessions that Will Change Your Life (there are probably enough ideas here that you don’t have to look further)
- Freezer Meals from Who Needs a Cape
- My Own Aldi Meal Plan (These aren’t necessarily crockpot meals, but they do include some meals that can be made quickly or made ahead of time.)
If you have a good chore system in place, good. If not, it’s never too late to start. There are many different ways to go about this. Take a look at this chore system Julie over at My 3 Sons has put together. It looks intimidating but also shows what can be done with time and planning. If that looks daunting, though, just start small.
Or if you don’t even have time for that, jot down chores that need to be done on strips of paper and throw them in a jar. At certain times during the day have each child grab a chore and do it. You can write down the chores as you think of them throughout the day and even color code them according to difficulty if you have different age kids.
Pray for the New School Year
Prayer is the most important key to a successful year. Unless the Lord builds a house, we are laboring in vain.
Don’t Neglect Your Husband
If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll notice I’m at number seven now, so you can think of this as a bonus. In all the busy-ness of a new year don’t forget to make time for your husband. Having a good relationship with your husband is one of the most important things you can do for your children.
I hope this post doesn’t make me sound like I have everything together because I don’t. The fact that I’m publishing this post after many have already started their year, coupled with the fact that I have yet to complete some of the above tasks and we’re starting school next week proves that I don’t.
What’s one thing you do to prepare for a successful homeschool year?
NZ Filbruns says
You have some very interesting piles of books there! Are they all suggested by Heart of Dakota? That’s a curriculum I’ve never looked at.
Yes, they’re all Heart of Dakota books! And they’re all thoughtfully planned out for me, too, in the HOD guides. I feel really blessed with all the great book choices that we get to use.
Sarah M says
Love this! Thanks so much. This will really help me.
You’re very welcome! I’m glad to hear that you find it helpful.
Roman Kauffman says
Me…. being your Mother-in-law, I’m very impressed with your organizational skills! You should have been born to be ‘my’ mother-in-law instead of me being yours! 🙂 Not having started to home school until my youngest was in 3rd grade, I could have learned so much from you!
I’m not as organized as I look, but I try. 🙂 I’m sure you’re much more organized!
Bette A. Stevens says
Great post. Sharing on FB & Twitter. Thanks!
Thanks so much. That’s really sweet of you. 🙂
Angela Howard says
Great advice! I popped in on this post because my sister will start home schooling this fall. 🙂 Visiting from #LMMLinkup
Thanks for visiting!
I love the washi tape idea for the books. I’m homeschooling 10 this year, and that would save so much time!
I saw the idea in a Facebook group. I think it will be a big help in keeping our books organized this year.
Forever Joyful says
Great ideas! I am so impressed that you included both prayer and not neglecting your husband as both of these are critical yet often overlooked. I am not nearly as much of a scheduler as you, but I can relate to always ending up at the dining room table! Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.