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Getting Organized

2010 August 23
by Pamela

Before I write the last post in this series about our experience as first-time homeschoolers, I wanted to write a little about how we got organized to teach Mary Claire at home first.  But I’m not promising that I will write about something more exciting next.  Last time I did that Elizabeth ended up with a major and unexpected haircut.  Who knows what could happen this time if I start hoping for excitement.   I might end up writing about how the girls tried to para-sail off the rooftop or something.

We don’t have a very big house and though I longed and longed for one, a separate room that could be wholly dedicated to school did not magically appear.  We debated about adding storage and a small table to the family room, but the room already seems to implode from all the toys and life that happens in it.  I didn’t think we could ask the room to multi-task anymore than it already does.  So we settled on the dining room as our teaching space.   There isn’t much formal dining that takes place around here at the moment unless you consider grilled cheese fancy. 

Teaching in the dining room meant I simply had to have a new china cabinet.  (Insert cackle of joy here).   Because I couldn’t possibly teach my child well if I was staring at the old china cabinet.  It couldn’t be done.

We are using part of the cabinet for storage because it is  a.  accessible to me  and  b.  impossible for Elizabeth to open.

Our math and phonics curriculum and math manipulatives are stored in this cabinet, which is just across from the dining room table. 

I went a little crazy at Walmart for school supplies.  Because when crayons are only .25 I lose my mind and think we need 1,700 boxes.  The supplies are stored in a drawer in the sideboard.  Again because it is easily accessible for me and Elizabeth can’t open the drawer:

I’m including the above picture so there is proof that this drawer was once clean and organized.  It will likely never look like this again so I wanted the moment to be forever captured.

The drawer below contains the books we are using for the current week.  Since Sonlight has a lot of books included, I needed a place to store the ones that we weren’t using that was both accessible to me and hard for Elizabeth to get at (are you noticing a pattern in my thinking here?).  So the books on the roster for the school year are on a bookshelf upstairs.  Each week I go up and rotate titles we are done with for the ones we need this week:

Aside:  Although you could never tell from my tupperware cabinet, I really love for things to be organized.  I used to constantly ask myself “what could I do differently to make this space work more efficiently for us?”  Now the only question I ask myself is “How can I get to the items I need while ensuring Elizabeth doesn’t?”

Ahhh, motherhood with a curious toddler.  

To organize and track what we are doing on a weekly and daily basis, I use this:

It’s a binder with pages to record goals and objectives for the school year, field trips, notes, and a weekly calendar for lesson plans.  Here’s a look at a typical week:

I use the boxes for each subject and record what we worked on that day.  On the right hand side I keep track of the Literature, Geography, and History we are scheduled to read for the week.  I also keep track of Mary Claire’s social activities so if anyone should suggest that homeschoolers aren’t “socialized” enough I can tell them that the little socialite spent 33 hours with her peers this week.  Yes, I’m her personal assistant, chef, AND chauffeur.  I also make notes to myself regarding anything that needs particular focus for the following week.

In the morning I open up the cabinets, pull out all the IG’s, math manipulatives, books, etc. that we need and pile it on the table:

See that little blue pocket thingy?  It contains all the supplies that I need.  I kept noticing the first couple of weeks that I had to get up over and over again to grab the same items.  So now I have my own little handy pouch.  I also bought a little eraser board so I didn’t have to  heave myself off the chair to write on the big marker board or waste paper writing the letter “t” five times.  Plus Mary Claire really enjoys being able to write on it as well. 

I know you are thinking life will never be complete without a glimpse into a typical day for this homeschooling family, so that post will be up next.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Stefanie permalink
    September 15, 2010

    Wow – I didn’t know you were really homeschooling. That’s great!
    I am actually wondering how you fit everything in a day. I guess it is all about organization.

    • Pamela permalink*
      September 16, 2010

      Hi Stef! Welcome back! Yes, we started in July. But there is very little that actually fits into my day, unfortunately. I’m dropping balls left and right, but trying to focus on the important things best I can.

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