Organizing your homeschool is one of the most important tasks for maintaining success on the homeschool journey.
If you struggle with organization you’re not alone. A mom once wrote to me asking for help with this issue. She had tons of great educational resources and lots of insightful teaching ideas—but had not implemented any of them. Disorganized and unproductive, she feared for her children’s education.
Though she knew lesson plans would help her get school accomplished each day, this sweet mom felt inadequate when it came to creating and following the plans. She felt like a failure because she had done so little of what she intended to do. Great books and ideas abounded. Yet nothing was getting done.
Let me say this is absolutely normal. Most homeschoolers experience this scenario in the first few years of homeschooling. But with a little direction, I believe moms can get beyond this and into a positive, forward moving routine. Even a disorganized person can easily implement structure into her homeschool.
Let me suggest that one of our top goals for homeschooling should be to move our children from dependence to independence.
As they move in this direction you will, slowly through the years, transition from teacher to coach to advisor to mentor. We want our children to be self learners. Individuals who have learned to self educate will outperform their teacher dependent peers. However, we do not want to move our children into independence too early—or too late. Each child is different.
I had one child who was totally independent by nine, and another who was still not totally independent at twelve. Eventually, though, all my children became trustworthy, mature, and self motivated enough to be trusted to complete their work without constant supervision, checking, and grading. This level of self motivation is something we should work to instill in our children every day.
Let me encourage you that homeschooling will not always be laborious for you. Once your children have taken matters into their own hands, your load will be significantly lightened. It’s good for them and it’s good for you when they begin to follow the schedule—beginning their work without your prompting and reading and completing assignments on their own.
The trick is to choose curriculum that allows them to be independent.
There are many great courses out there that actually work against our efforts to create independent learners. They can be replaced with just as great courses that work toward self learning.
Not only is the curriculum you choose of vital importance, it’s essential to create a basic schedule your family can easily follow. For some, a curriculum with a detailed daily schedule, showing exactly which pages to read in which book, is comforting.
For me, it worked to list all the subjects and have the children simply check them off as they completed the assignments. My six year old would read the next thing on her list, find the book, and bring it to me to read to her.
When it was time for writing, my boys would set everything up then call me over to teach them the lesson. Most things they could complete without my help, but some subjects required my oversight and instruction. Still, they made it easy for me by getting it ready for me to teach.
My children were entrusted with their own simple schedules and daily checklists even at six years old. They didn’t always follow the schedule in exact order, especially if the subject was dependent on me helping out in some way, but that was okay.
Sometimes I printed my children’s schedule on paper. Other times, I wrote it on a whiteboard. Either way, my children didn’t have to wait on me to begin school; they didn’t have to ask, “What’s next Mom?” I never heard, “Are we done with school?” Their daily schedule gave clarity and direction. The required work was obvious to them, and they knew the more quickly they worked, the sooner they could play.
I truly believe a daily schedule will help with organizing your homeschooling.
Some people need it all spelled out in great detail. That’s one reason I created the notebooking journals to go with my Young Explorer Series books. They include a detailed schedule with reading pages, notebooking activities, and projects assigned on specific days.
As far as having a ton of great material that you cannot realistically implement into a daily schedule, that’s another matter entirely. How I can relate! I think we all can. We see a great book on the human body. We buy it. We see a fabulous video to go with it. We purchase it. We find wonderful project books that will accompany it perfectly. We shell out more cash. By the time school starts, we have a large stack of resources for teaching anatomy—but no plan.
In fact, that is exactly WHY I wrote the first book in my science series. I had acquired many books to teach my children astronomy—lots of project books, picture books, scientific books, etc. But they were hard to implement. I needed one book that combined all the features that would make teaching astronomy doable (and wouldn’t plant seeds of evolution into their little hearts).
Here’s some bad news: Without a schedule—that either you or someone else creates—it’s nearly impossible to teach from a stack of random books.
However, here are three pieces of good news:
- There are courses out there that teach well using only one book.
- There are courses out there that have very detailed schedules to allow you to teach from lots of different resources if that’s your preference.
- A strong reader can work his way through the stack of reading material on his own without a schedule and really learn a lot if he has assigned reading in that subject.
By using assigned reading times, my kids were able to enjoy the wonderful resources that complemented their learning. For example: In history, we worked through one main book. Then the kids worked on their own through a list of supplementary books to further their learning. I would have loved to read aloud to them, but if we had waited for that….it may or may not have ever happened!
My husband did read aloud to them from some of the history books at bedtime, however. Those books were usually above their reading level. I made sure I had a lot of books they could read on their own. They would either read and narrate to me, or make a notebook page or book report on the book.
I always included history, science, and geography books on their reading list. On the schedule it said, “reading,” but my children each had a separate list of reading books to work through. This way, they could actually learn from the great resources I had bought.
That’s the beauty of homeschooling and independent learning.
Even when they were young, my kids knew tons of stuff I didn’t know. It was hilarious, really. My son would tell me something that sounded outlandish. I’d question his source and he’d retrieve one of the books I had assigned to him as proof of his learning.
It’s amazing how much children can learn on their own. Really. Of course, this works best when your kids are older, and strong readers.
The problem is, when your children are young and not reading well, you are anxious to teach them everything RIGHT THEN! There’s so much to learn and you are ready to teach it all RIGHT NOW! I was that way.
I needed to learn that homeschooling is a journey, not a race.
There’s plenty of time to teach your children everything you want them to learn. And with a little organization and a daily schedule, you’ll be on the path to an enjoyable and successful homeschool!
Read on for more homeschool inspiration.