Feeling overwhelmed can be a part of homeschool. As a homeschool mom, you have multiple jobs on your shoulders: teacher, housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, etc. Not to mention the things you want to do for yourself like study your Bible, exercise, etc. You would need a 72-hour day, it seems, to accomplish all these tasks in one day!
While no one can do it all, there are some organizational tips that can make things go a little smoother and may allow you to accomplish more with less stress. Some of these tips help with managing your time, and some help with managing your supplies.
Get the Kids to Help with Housework
Training your children to contribute to the day-to-day upkeep of the house starts young! But even if you didn’t start young, it’s not too late! With some training, any child can learn to help mom with the day-to-day jobs around the house. While some families call these chores, some call them jobs, and some call them blessings. No matter what you call it, it’s the same idea. Having the kids do more around the house not only blesses mom, but it also blesses them by teaching them responsibility and basic life skills.
When beginning to involve your children in work around the house, make sure you teach them and clearly present expectations. Sending a child to clean the bathroom isn’t helpful unless you have already taught that child how to clean the bathroom and laid out clear expectations on what that would entail. Set them up for success by letting them do the job alongside you first while you explain how to do it properly. This rule of thumb applies regardless of the task or the age of the child. Don’t expect them to do something you haven’t taught them.
There are so many different ways your child can help around the house, but there are also lots of age appropriate chore suggestion lists available if you need some ideas!
Pinterest and Instagram are full of various options to organize your home. There are many ideas for school room and school supply organization, so get inspired to make practical changes to every area of your home by viewing images on those platforms. Sometimes you don’t know what is going to work for you until you try it. It is often easiest to keep each child’s school books and supplies together whether on the same shelf, in a bin, on a rolling cart, or whatever else works for you. Maybe you have a set space and shelving works great, or maybe you school all around the house so portable bins or a rolling cart makes the most sense. Regardless of how you store it, less is more. Keep only what you regularly use and keep it in one place.
For long term storage, using a binder, banker box, or accordion file folder for each child can be really helpful. You don’t need to keep everything they do in their homeschool year, but this allows you to keep special things, writing samples, assessments, and any other type of thing you might want going forward. Most places in Canada do not require showing work, but it is still good to have on hand. Those journals and stories can be cute to look back on in later years as well. You can separate things by grade in a binder or accordion file box or just toss it all into a banker’s box. Label with the child’s name, and you’re all set. You can even get an adorable pre-made storage box with the child’s name and folders per grade from this lovely Canadian company called Boxit Okanagan.
Whether you decide to set aside special keepsakes or example pieces as they are done or go through it all at the end of the year is up to you and what feels less stressful, but any of the above suggestions will help keep your school stuff organized.
Pre-Plan or Backwards Plan
Many would assume that in order to be organized you need to plan way in advance. For some people that is the case, but it is not the case for everyone. Some find it too stressful to plan in advance and then have to make adjustments when things go off schedule. There are many who prefer to backwards plan, or plan as you go. Backwards planning is when you write down what you did after the fact instead of writing down what you are going to do. This allows you to be able to look back and see what you did without the pressure of planning far ahead.
My personal preference is to take 5 minutes after we finish school to plan for the next day. Then I know how far we got and if we are ready to move on or need extra work, and it isn’t time consuming as I’m only planning one day at a time.
Know what you are having for meals all week so you don’t have to spend time figuring it out. This makes grocery shopping easier too. Some people prefer to prep much of it at the beginning of the week (chopping veggies, pre-cooking meats, etc.) while others prefer to do smaller amounts of prep with just what they need for that meal. Whichever way suits your family needs the best, having meals planned in advance takes stress out of the day.
You can also schedule in some nights for the children to be in charge of a meal if they are ready for that task. Pre-baking some snacks for the week or pre-chopping fruit and veggies for snacks can allow the kids to grab their own snacks, further freeing up mom’s time.
Keep a Jot Notebook or a Planner
To-do lists help organize thoughts and bring satisfaction when checking things off. Keeping a notebook, planner, or both out on your desk or countertop gives you a master place to collect your thoughts and organize all the things you need to do and remember. Some people even like to keep a notepad by their bed to make sure they have a place to do braindumps - writing down all the things you’re thinking of at night so you don’t have to store them in your brain and try to remember them.
Daily Quiet Time
While not necessarily an organizational tactic, a daily quiet time is a way that can help you stay organized. It breaks up your day and gives mom that little bit of time alone for whatever use is most beneficial to her. Everyone takes a set amount of time in their own rooms after lunch. This can look like naps, reading, or quiet play. Non-readers may listen to an audiobook even. Whatever you use this time for, it’s a good reset for everyone and a chance for mom to recalibrate.
When it comes to all things homeschool (organization included), don’t be afraid to change what’s not working! If you start using a closet for supplies and then realize you’re always dragging them around, try switching to a rolling cart. If you were trying to homeschool in the mornings but everyone is groggy and tired, try the afternoon! What works for one doesn’t always work for another.
If you are looking for more inspiration on organizing all the things that come with homeschooling, there are lots of ideas out there such as these 10 Homeschool Organizational Ideas for a Small Space.
Get customizable schedules with subjects or without that you can fill for a learning plan for each of your children. These are fillable PDF downloads from SchoolhouseTeachers.com, but you don’t have to be a member to get the 1-week and 9-week homeschooling schedule. Enjoy these schedules and see the Additional Planning Tools section near the bottom of that page for more free resources.
This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS). Enjoy more of our content from TCS contributors and staff writers by visiting our Front Door page that has content on our monthly theme and links to all our content sections.