Saturday, September 7, 2013

Homeschool Organization (Part 2)

Here's the one that I enjoy talking about the most...

I have a serious addiction to organizing paper.  I love file folders, hanging folders, labels, tabs, and binders.  It's a sickness.  Truly.
Anywho, our core curriculum this year has no workbooks, but has a million (not really, but at least several hundred per child) pages that we printed out for this year.  It is set up in six week units.  This is how I keep all THAT paperwork straight.... 

 I have one file folder for each week, for each unit, for each child!  At the beginning of each unit, I take the hanging folder and move it to my on the go school bag that my AHmazing friends from Fort Bliss gave me when we moved here.
I keep the 24 folders, our main TM, the readers, my lesson plan folder, and all of my teaching supplies in this bag.  If we were to go on vacation, I could bring everything we would need for school just by grabbing this bag.  I am pretty sure I couldn't live without it!  
I mentioned my lesson plan folder.  I'm on my second homemade lesson planner this year.  The first one was totally overwhelming, so I started to shop for a planner again.  I found one that I LOVED, but I didn't have the cash to invest at this time, so I sort of copied it.  I am still deciding whether or not my guilt about copying the idea is logical or emotional.  

I keep a lot in my planner.  It has spaces for each subject, and lines I can separate the children's assignments on.  Yes, I know it is still pretty empty.  I just printed these yesterday!  All of the planner pages come from  That site is FANTASTIC and has a lot of options.  They also have household planning/organizing pages that I use in my huge household binder.

Like I said earlier, our state doesn't require we keep records, but I prefer to because I like to make sure we always go above and beyond anyone's requirements or expectations.  
So there it is.  It's not as fancy and professional as I would like.  I didn't take the time to type everything in.  It's just the reality of changing everything after a month of school!  
A MONTH... Is it just me, or is time going WAY WAY WAY too fast.
We better make each day count!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homeschool Organization (Part 1)

Yesterday I mentioned that I was frequently asked the same 5 questions again and again.  The second most common question is "Where do you do or put your school stuff?"
I don't have great pictures.  Please forgive me.  I am working on saving up for a new lens for my camera, since mine broke last October.  :-(  I do have enough pictures to show you a basic idea though.  

When you homeschool, you have a lot of stuff.  When you homeschool 4 children, you have a LOT of stuff.  This is how we keep everything organized.

This is a peek at my "school room."  It is the second half of my kitchen.  It isn't super fancy, but we did just get AWESOME desks from Ikea to make sure everyone has functional space.  We also got huge maps because I never really learned geography as a kid and I want my children to have a firm understanding of where things and places are in their world! 

I have one book case near our desks that holds our current curriculum and daily supplies.  We are studying early American history this year, so have a lot of books about Native American culture jammed in one of the cubbies.  At any given time, anything the children need for any subject other than some science, will be either in their desks or in this book case.  I love these 9 square things.  I get them at Target, and they put up with a lot of abuse!
I have a storage room off of my laundry room that I use for holidays, excess kitchen stuff, and our books and supplies.  We call it the homeschool storage room.  I told you I love the 9 cubby things.  You'll see a few more ask I blog more!  Anywho, this light colored one holds the boys' book series.  We have all of the Magic Tree House books, which helps when I need a quick read for someone on the go.  The bottom shelves are used for my Bible study stuff.  

This is our non-fiction shelving unit.  The cubbies are organized in the same order as the ones in our actual "school room."  the boxes on top hold readers by grade level for my younger three.  I rotate the books in the reader boxes so they don't just memorize the books!

The tall bookcase holds our fiction books.  I used to keep all my books in alphabetical order, by size, and by color.  OCD much?  You can see I've let go of that control issue.  I have given away, sold, and donated several thousand books in the last 4 years, which has been almost painful.  I do like that it forces us to explore the library more often.  Libraries make me so happy. :-) I keep 3 tubs of Christmas books in our Christmas side of the room (aka most of the room), but all the other holiday books are in order at the bottom so we can bring them out by season/holiday.  The black box contains extra school supplies, and the blue box contains the second semester books and supplies for our curriculum.

I am WAY more organized with the schedule/paper stuff.  I will post on that tomorrow.  
Now that you've seen all that, I'll admit that I would be a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY girl if I had cupboards to hide all the chaos in.  I don't like open shelves.  The colors all over make me twitch sometimes.  I don't like seeing school supplies in my home at all.  I'm trying to remember that the home isn't just mine, and that the children will read more if they can see the books.  They will take out more books if I am not being all controlling about where they go after they are borrowed.  This is a functional home.  This is their school.  Order is important, a great learning environment more so.

I'll catch you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homeschool year 2013-2014

I can't believe we are over a month into our school year already.  Everyone is still alive.  Things are actually getting better again.  I have a lot of friends and family who ask the same 5 questions about homeschooling, so I thought I would do a homeschool mini-series!  That's right.  We are totally getting fancy here.
  I might actually be able to do this blogging thing now that I have a real computer again.  I love having my ipad for a few things, but the darn thing is impossible to type on!  Anywhooooo..... 5 questions.  The question I am asked the most is "what curriculum do you use?"
First of all, I live in Texas.  If you're not a homeschooler you don't understand the significance of it, and if you are, you probably know that we have some of the most lenient homeschooling laws in the country.  You don't have to notify anyone unless your child is already in a public school and you plan on disenrolling.  There are no time or day requirements.  No work samples, tests, or attendance records have to be turned in to anyone.  Having said that, I keep ALL of those records, and we do around 200 days of school each year.
Sooooo... What do we use?  

This year we changed it up a bit, but I'll try to keep it all simple in the list...

Bible:  Calvary Curriculum.  We are starting with Daniel and then working through the New Testament.  Why Daniel? So much of the prophesy comes to pass in the NT.  I want the children to see it unfold!

Math: Teaching Textbooks   We will be using levels 3-6 this year with the children.  2 of my boys LOVE math and would do it for fun any day of the week.  (weirdos! ;-) )

Language Arts: Rod and Staff  We will be using levels 3,4,and 6 in their English series.  We will be doing our own spelling and plugging lists into Spelling City for practice.  Josh and I will be working on creative writing projects together using a curriculum I am writing for him. Anah and I will be reading through Grammarland and illustrating our own version of the story.  We loved the activities for Grammar Land found here.

History, Science, Geography, and Reading:  Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration.  It contains everything we need except math, but I really feel like my children need a more rigorous Language Arts program.  TGTL uses living books and has a very Charlotte Mason feel to it.  I have found it to be a bit of a challenge with 4 children so far.  We have learned more geography this year than in the past few years because it blends with the history study seamlessly.  We are emotionally invested in the lives of the great explorers of our American past, and that helps us all learn more.  I will go more in depth and add to the science using books we have collected because we are science nerds.

Art:  This is a HUGE one for me this year.  We will be doing a very thorough study of artists, technique, and styles.  We even plan on interviewing several artists.  We are fortunate to be related to several artistically talented or connected ;-) people!  Most of our formal work comes from the World's Greatest Artists, ARTistic Persuits, and various Usborne art books.

Music:  We will be learning how to play the recorder this year.  I learned how to do it in Australia when I was a kid, and I still remember how to play.  I am looking forward to impromptu concerts from the children often.  We are also studying composers, hymns, and music genres.  It is time to expose the children to something other than classical, classic rock, or christian music.

Creative Arts:  We will be weaving, knitting (yes, even the boys), woodworking, and gardening.

Of course we will be READING, READING, READING and celebrating all kinds of feasts, festivals, and holidays Waldorf style!

There it is folks.  Eclectic to the max.
 Now you know.