Monday, 2 September 2013

Homeschool organization

Well, well, well...here we are.  We will be entering our second season of watching the school bus drive by our house without rushing the children out the door.  We're finishing up our second round of reading all the Facebook posts of back-to-school and not at all feeling the same dread and loneliness.  We've had a quiet, local summer and are ready to dive into some new projects, spread our wings, and experience things we've never done before.

I know intellectually that we don't need to start our homeschooling bookwork at the same time that school kicks in for everyone else.  But it feels so much to me like a chance for a fresh start, that the leaves changing colour and the cooler evenings are beckoning us to start.  It doesn't mean we'll be caged inside all day, or even all morning.  It means we'll get reacquainted with where supplies and materials are, what our books look like and where we left them at the end of last year, and do some art.  Play outside.  Pick some flowers.  Go to the library.  Read to each other.  Really, most of the day will be like any other day. 

Speaking of getting reacquainted with our books and materials, I did some organizing over the summer...okay, over the last two weeks...in a bid to make it easier for my children to keep their supplies neat and organized.  We had a day where every single pair of scissors was missing in action.  And that seemed to be the final straw for me.  Everything needed to have a home and the organizational system needed to be easy enough for the 2-year-old to master.  We may not have entirely reached that lofty goal, but we made a start.  What exactly did we do to make all our lives a little easier, you ask?

Last year, Jaelyn stacked her books on the buffet that sits by our table.  Nicholas had a stack in his room.  Astrin accessed the mess inside the buffet for paper and left it wherever when she was done.  In the end, we couldn't get to any of the materials (markers, crayons, pencils, erasers, and the missing scissors, to name a few).  This year, each child has their own basket (labelled with the felted valentines we made last year).  Their books and started project work can go into the basket.  The top of our buffet now has room for a nature basket and a globe!



I also struggled last year with organizing all the different types of paper that entered our world...lined paper, graph paper, coloured paper, printer paper, construction paper...you get the drift.  I did my best to stack it neatly in our buffet, along with sketch books and notebooks, but it wasn't practical for the little hands that dove in their to get stuff.  Once one thing was pulled out the rest was shuffled around.  By the end of the week it was a disaster.  This year, I found a Banker's Box brand mail sorter that had slots large enough to fit 8 1/2" by 11" paper.  It's perfect!


Last year, our books were randomly organized.  Truth be told, I grouped them by hardback and paperback, then placed them on the shelf according to their size, for some reason or another.  This year they are organized by topic.  I cleared out some of the supplies that were in boxes to make room so all books the children may ever want to access are right there.  I adjusted the height of the shelves so all the titles could be seen.  I put labels to let the readers in the house know where to put the book back, in case they forgot where they got it from in the first place.  I also got rid of the shelf that was for library books and found a basket instead where they could be placed when they were finished being enjoyed.


Last year, many of our instruments were out of reach.  This meant that my children could either be monkeys and climb to get them or I would (unintentionally) have control over whether the instruments came out or not.  I also had instruments stored in different places, as some were given as gifts to Astrin and others were not quite appropriate for her yet.  As a result, we didn't have much music-making going on in our house.  This year, I moved all the instruments down into a cabinet, and they are all in the same place so anyone can enjoy making music.


This year, I needed to come to the realization that my little baby is really no longer a baby.  Every day, both she and I talk about how she is getting bigger.  So it also came time for me to realize that all those baby toys might not be so appropriate for her anymore.  While there is a basket on the floor with a few items that anyone can use, I've put some items especially for her in a cabinet...a rice bin with measuring cups, funnels and bowls, large beads and shoelaces, puzzles, a wooden farm set.  Items for the bigger girl that is making her way around the house now.


Our last little touch for this year is finding a more permanent home for our "Creative Kids" banner.  You may have seen it in other posts, wrapped around our masonry heater, but we discovered that some of the letters were covered up just because of how it hung.  This year, the banner brings a dash more colour to the space above the window in our dining room, where coincidentally, our homeschool happens to hang out to do bookwork if we don't choose to do it outside.  I love it!


Here's wishing you and yours a September full of excitement, challenges, and moments soaking up the last little bits of summer!

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