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OK, so I'm not an organizer. I probably have a dozen areas in my house (and my life!) that could use a professional touch. I do have an undying love for The Container Store, but I don't think that counts. I do have a bunch of homeschool organization ideas that I've implemented over the past several years, and I'm excited to share them with you, but this is still one of my favorite systems that has worked the best!
I used to be completely disorganized, but something about adding babies #3 and #4 (update: #5) to the mix opened my eyes to a need for cleanliness and organization. Plus, working from home and homeschooling together with all of these kids means I NEED to be organized, for my sake and theirs! Not to mention the fact that I want to teach them good habits and skills. I'm trying to avoid raising future hoarders.
After trying so many different types of curriculum, I felt like I either had way too many books and papers stacked in my kitchen (where we prefer to learn), or way too many books and papers scattered all over the entire house!
This past year we've been working our way through My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures with my nine-year-old, and MFW 1st Grade with my 6-year-old.
At first, I had a really hard time organizing the paperwork and keeping things easily accessible. We tried a workbox system, but I honestly just did not want to spend so much time prepping every day. My husband always says that time is a person's most valuable resource, and I totally agree. I would much rather spend time learning and being together as a family than organizing and preparing.
This organizational method allows me to prep once a week (either Friday after school or on Sunday before the new school week starts), and keeps us nicely organized without papers everywhere.
First, I took all of the MFW Student Sheets and hole-punched them. They went into a really big binder, separated by a divider so that the ECC papers didn't get mixed up with the 1st Grade papers.
Then I laminated the sheets that we need to re-use, like the Bible verse sheets for ECC, and the reading chart and books of the Bible list for MFW 1st.
Then I took a bunch of file folders and labeled them, Weeks 1 – 52 (we school year-round).
At the end of every school week, I remove the laminated sheets and file the folder (for example, week 27) with completed work in a filebox in my office, which I keep next to my Student Sheet binder.
To prepare for the next week, I take the folder for that week (for example, week 28), and insert all of the needed sheets from my binder. I then add the laminated sheets that we use every day (memory verse sheet, reading chart, and books of the Bible), plus any other materials needed that week (like Art Cards for 1st grade).
Once my folder is ready for the week, I keep the folder and the teacher's manual in an easily accessible place (usually a basket on my kitchen counter) so it's ready for school.
One of the best thing about this system is that when one of the student sheets or work sheets is completed, I keep it in the file. So, now that we are on week 30, I have 30 files of the kids' work. We can easily look back and see areas that they have progressed.
I took this a step further and started putting weekly meal plans, notes, pictures, and other things I want to keep in each week's file. I know they are safe, and I have them organized for an easy look back at every week of the school year.
This system saves me a lot of time and trouble. I have a pretty box on my counter where I keep the teacher's manuals, our school files for the week, and a file for incoming bills that need to be paid. It's small, but I can move it to another room if company is coming (I usually just leave it there, but my husband is on an anti-clutter crusade and I think he prefers it out of sight).
I keep my teacher's manuals for math and language arts in my office because I don't typically use them everyday. That way they are easily accessible when I need them.
How do you organize your homeschool books and papers? I am always looking for new and better ideas, so if you have suggestions please share!