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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Saturday Spot: Organizing School From Day to Day…

August 14th, 2011 · 11 Comments

We are almost halfway through our school year and it is going well… better than ever!!! And I think one of the reasons may be because we were slightly better organized this year when we got going with school and because all our school stuff has a place, it is easy for little people to return things to where they belong and mostly they do on a daily basis. I had this idea since so many of you are headed Back to School in the next couple of weeks I would give you a week of school posts… I normally post our little bit of organization for the week in our Fabulous Friday fun post… but this week I realized there was more than enough here for it’s own special post…

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This week was such a scatty week for us with folk sick with colds, and since I am never ever sick I will just say “the cold did not pass me by,” but I pretended that it did!!! So school was a little fast paced as everyone wanted to get done and collapse somewhere with a book. This meant that I got an awful amount of sorting, tidying, organizing done. It is amazing how much you can maintain when folk are not well enough to unpack faster than you put away!!!

In the past, as our school year marched on our house tended to entropy every year and by the end of 36 weeks it would take half the summer to put everything back where it belonged. Bits of science experiment and sheets of paper, artworks and art materials… they all creep out and splatter themselves on every single surface. Well I thought until we were half way through the year I would let it go and then and retrain our school materials at the half way mark. But then this week presented itself to me and I packed and packed and put everything back. What a difference it makes to have the surfacers clear again, the materials reachable without things double stacked on the shelves!!! Not to mention the “mould experiment gone” (a blessed relief for the mother person) and endless contraptions in the name of science were returned to their homes… a toothpick here, a cork there and countless elastic bands!!! It really helps that I got everything organized before the school year began and it really was a matter of just putting things back where they belong. Absolutely everything is color coded and where things are grouped together it always works in the same order: Oldest student on the left down to the youngest student on the right. I know this isn’t exactly rocket science, it just has to get done!!!

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It finally came to me that we are homeschoolers and yet I don’t like living surrounded by school stuff so I had to make a plan to get the school stuff were it belongs on a daily basis rather than just during the summer months. I have had a much better day-to-day system this year for organizing as we go:

  1. No Loose Papers: Stick them in the journal on the day or I toss them in the recycling. I know, everyone asks how we will ever pay for college, well right now I am a bit more concerned about keeping my kids in gluesticks from week to week!!!
  2. A Drawer for the Things That Always Wander: Glue sticks, erasers and sharpeners… no one can sit in school and say they can’t find one – they are all there. And a special drawer for math items, like the scale and rulers and protractors…
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  3. Science Accountability: My kids have been working in pairs for science this year and it works so well, especially at putting things back where they belong. I get them to tidy up after their lab partner. It is always harder to clean up your own mess, and much easier to clean up someone else’s!!!
  4. A place for Everything Single Thing: If I find loose pens lying around I put them in the pen jar and so on… if they can’t find there special pen then they know where to look. I wanted a system that anyone could tidy whatever grade they were in. Keeping like things together really does work for this because a younger child can work out where they keep there science stuff and then knows where all the science stuff belongs and so on.
  5. Everyone has their own Art Box: At the beginning of the year I got each kidlet a tool box with their own markers, pencils and crayons and whatever else they might need. There is no excuse to not have the right equipment!!! If they leave something lying around it goes into the pool of equipment, I will not return precious items to their owner… they must look after their stuff or find it in the community equipment!!! It has worked out great, it is portable, they can take their stuff wherever they are working and if they do lose something, then they know to look in the school drawers for it. Any tidying I have to do is in the kitchen, the rest is really up to them.
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  7. Reading Books Back on the Shelf Each Day: This is the hardest for my kids, they love their school books and all want to sleep with them on the end of their bed… but no, it is a secret check of mine to see that the books leave the shelf each day and then return at the end of the day… I know that we are covering the work that way and if I see a book lying on the shelf unattended then I know it has been unread!!!
  8. Workbooks: used to lie on the kitchen counter until I had checked them, now I check them right there and then with the relevant student and then they return them to the shelf… no stacks of books unchecked. Really it takes less than a minute to check that a workbook is done and correct, why was I storing them up as a chore!!!
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    And the Se7en + 1th thing:

  9. Games and Puzzles: Last but not least, we call these things school materials, though many don’t!!! My kids are not big puzzlers, but we have started to really enjoy games and the pieces are not always put back where they belong… it was a matter of corralling all the dice and putting them in one drawer… and making sure all the games had their pieces and were stacked back on the pile. And that was it!!!

That’s us… our school is back in order… and there are no lingering art projects or piles of papers on any surfaces and everything is back where it belongs. Our school stuff isn’t perfect mind you, there are eight very busy kids over here and our school its definitely lived in, yet it seems to be getting organized and our system does seem to work for us!!! It feels like I am starting a whole fresh season of school on Monday and all I did was tidy up – lovely!!! I will blog about other things that are really working well for us for school this year and our school schedule, which is just brilliant – why I never thought of this before I don’t know, I will never look back. So brace yourselves and look forward to a week if school posts from us!!!

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This week on Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks we are at Week 32: Hiring a Professional Organizer.

For myself I am not ready to hire a professional organizer, I have found that “The 52 Weeks” and having to have something organized to blog about each week has definitely kept me more on my toes and looking for projects long after I would normally have given up and reverted to chaos!!!

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Tags: House Tour · Inside · Organizing School · Saturday Spot · Se7en at School

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 KM // Aug 15, 2011 at 1:35 am

    YOU are an ORGANIZED MAD MAMA! MAD as in MADLY MARVELOUS! I really like how each kiddo has their very own art box. What a fantastic educational experience for EACH of your littles… may I send mine over for a month to attend your school??? 🙂

  • 2 Lillian // Aug 15, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for a week of school posts. Like you said, we are about to start back. I will look forward to the next posts. 🙂 Lillian

  • 3 LindaOz // Aug 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Yay! I love school posts so I’m looking forward to week of them 🙂 Thanks, too, for the organizational tips. Things have become ‘organizationally challenged’ around here so I need to do some fixing up too.

  • 4 se7en // Aug 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Oh KM, I should do a post on their art boxes… I know I constantly want one just for me!!! I haven’t forgotten I said I would write a few things for you… I am getting there in my vey slow and steady way!!!! Lots and lots of love to you!!!

  • 5 se7en // Aug 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Lillian!!! The idea just came to me and as I started one post so the idea for the next one arose – so hopefully it will be a good week of blogging, full of homeschool goodies for you to enjoy!!! Lots of love!!!

  • 6 se7en // Aug 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Hi LindaOz… I know I could be more organized but, shrug, I would rather be gardening!!! My favorite thing at this time of year, when it is too cold for the snakes to be around!!! Anyway the school posts are planned and I hope you like them… Have a good week!!!

  • 7 Kim Allen // Aug 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    yay….school posts! Can’t wait to read your schedule 😉

  • 8 Tammy mayes // Aug 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you….Tunis is so interesting. Tell me is your bookshelf with schoolbooks near the table you work at or in another room? We work in the dining room so I am transporting stuff a lot, I have tried baskets for each child each week but it is a lot of work to reorganize each week. Do you tell them which books to get out each day or do you put them out? we have a cupboard but it is full of art supplies. So not sure if I should put a bookshelf in the dining room, where there isn’t much space…..

  • 9 se7en // Aug 17, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Hi Tammy, We work at our kitchen table and I don’t actually like to be surrounded by school all the time – it drives me a bit insane!!! So our workbooks are on a shelf out of the kitchen and when we are working on workbooks they bring their pile to the table. For readers and read alouds… We have a shelf of all the school books in our bedroom – everyone likes to laze and read on our bed!!! I keep all the grades separate and in order: history, read alouds, readers and science… so everything is very easy to find. Then I have a shelf of the current reading … there is a picture of it in the post: It has everyone’s reading for that week… when we are doing reading in the morning then they each grab their pile of books and we work our way through them. When we are finished with reading, then the books return to the shelf. Sometimes if we have a rushed day… I will get the books ready the night before and plonk them in a pile open at the relevant pages on the kitchen counter… ready to go for each student. Hope that helps… if I haven’t answered your question then just keep asking till I get it right!!! Lots of love…

  • 10 Tammy mayes // Aug 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks so much that is REALLY helpful…. I like the reading on the bed idea!!

  • 11 se7en // Aug 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Hay Tammy – glad it helped!!! Yea I have kids lounging on my bed reading past favorite school books all afternoon!!!! The only rile is that they may not read books that have not been scheduled yet… Can’t let them steal my thunder!!! Hope you are enjoying the awesome weather!!!

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