(And because listing them backwards seems more dramatic…)
#10. Designate a homebase for your homeschool.
My kids started their education in the public school system, and therefore we had a very specific idea of what a school classroom looked like. To make the transition to homeschool easier for them, I turned our very small spare room into a traditional classroom. Everything has its place. The books are where they should be, the (sharpened) pencils are in their assigned cup, and the dry erase markers all work. I even trained my boys to drop their backpacks in the classroom as soon as we get home from school! You don’t need one entire room dedicated to homeschooling, but it is certainly helpful if every room isn’t dedicated for that purpose.
#9. Use a planner.
Using a planner lets you off the hook for having to remember things! Along with dentist cleanings and soccer games, I make a note when every CHA-related event is going to take place. There is an email that goes out before the year begins that includes most of the important events, such as parent/tutor conferences, holiday breaks, and the well-deserved R&R days.
I’m old school and carry around a paper planner and write the information in with a pencil. I like to see all of my monthly events at a glance, and physically writing something down helps me remember it later. Many people prefer an electronic calendar, which has the invaluable alarm feature. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
PRO TIP: The first thing you should do when you start putting dates into your new calendar is make a note on almost every Tuesday between September and May that reads, “Do not schedule anything else on this day other than CHA-related work.” You’ll thank me later.
#8. Make sure you and your kids know what to expect from the day.
I find it helpful for my kids to have a visual list of what work needs to be completed during the day. I bought a hanging tree pocket from the dollar store and display subject cards in them, indicating what homework is assigned. When my son completes a subject, he gets the gratification of flipping the card over. It’s the same delightful feeling I get when I put a line through something on my “To-Do” list.
#7. Answer your CHA emails as soon as you get them.
Answering emails in a timely manner not only helps the sender, but you as well! The sooner you reply, the less likely you are to forget to do it. Why wouldn’t you want first dibs on signing up for the easy class snack (ahem, paper products), or to snag the best job for Field Day? After you sign up for something, go ahead and write the information down in your new planner 😊
#6. Check ThinkWave weekly for missing assignments.
Consider your child’s homework like a missing person. The more time that passes from when he thought he had it in his binder, the less likely you are to ever find it. So, the sooner you know an assignment is missing, the sooner you can go digging through his backpack before it is lost forever.
#5. Help your children organize their school supplies.
Unfortunately, my children weren’t born with the magical ability of organizing their own binder tabs. Until they can, I find it helpful to model good organizational habits, and do it for them. As I’m painstakingly writing out each tab and inserting it into the world’s smallest piece of plastic, I let my boys know how important it is to know exactly where the HASs go, and that they, in fact, do have graph paper.
#4. Know what you are going to do with the CHA work that comes home in family mail.
To prevent family mail from getting lost on the table by my front door (don’t we all have that table?), I organize it right when I get home. If my child needs a paper for homework, it goes right into the appropriate binder. Any returned/graded work gets put into an organizer that I will eventually put in their homeschool portfolio. I usually let those papers pile up for about a month before I put them in their portfolios behind subject tabs. Having the work organized like this comes in handy during my homeschool reviews with the county.
#3. Store items in bins with labels.
If you’re saving any homeschool curriculum for a future year, it is helpful to place it in a labeled box or bin. When I had two friends who needed to borrow some math books for the upcoming year, I walked right up to my attic, opened the “Saxon” bin, and retrieved the materials. Finding them quickly was important since it is about 200°F in my attic during the summer. Similarly, I keep all my boys’ work in a labeled bin after that year is complete. The bin contains their portfolios, workbooks, as well as larger history and art projects.
#2. Plan a time to organize.
That sounds nerdy, doesn’t it? You might not enjoy organizing as much as I do, but the means will justify the end. Scheduling an afternoon to clean out your homeschool area in the beginning of June will dramatically reduce your level of stress when mid-August rolls around. Also, planning a date with your child’s homeschool portfolio on an R&R Day is a much better idea than waiting until the night before your review.
#1. Organize your homeschool in a way that works best for your family.
The previous tips listed are very helpful to my family. However, they might not work for all families at CHA. It is important to tap into your family’s natural rhythm and put a process in place that works for you. “To thine own self be true,” right?
Does your family have a different way to stay organized? We want to hear it!
This is part of the Board Bits: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks series. Is there a question about CHA or homeschool that you would like answered? Submit inquiries to Tracey at firstname.lastname@example.org