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If you’re in the place that organizing or planning is an "issue", it’s most often because something is falling apart at home. Homeschool organization is a little more involved than some of us would like to admit, mostly because in addition to keeping our home organized we have to include managing our school lives.
But fear not, friend! With these four simple questions, you can determine what your real organizational challenge is and begin to find the solution...
The FIRST QUESTION to ask is this:
What’s the problem?
Is it that the laundry isn’t getting done?
Are we missing meetings/appointments?
Are bills getting paid late...or not getting paid?
Are the kids getting behind in lessons...or don’t I even KNOW?
The answer to these questions will influence what kind of tool you want to use…
- Laundry → lends itself to setting routines
- Missing meetings/appointments? → lends itself to keeping up with a calendar
- Paying bills → also lends itself to a calendar
- Keeping track of and/or planning lessons → lends itself to a lesson planner
Once you determine the problem, the NEXT QUESTION is to consider what type of person you are:
Paper-and-pen (old school)? OR Online (techie)? OR a combination?
There are pros and cons to each, and there is no right or wrong: it’s a totally personal decision and needs to work for YOU! I might mention here that whatever the answer is may change over time, and that’s OK, too. We all change, as do our situations and needs and demands, and these totally influence our decisions and choices. It doesn’t mean that we failed, or have no hope of getting organized, or ANYthing like that, k?
→ If you’re an old schooler and have the money, of course there are puh-lenty of options for you in terms of purchasing a calendar and/or planner. If you’re a bit more on the frugal side, just Google “free planners” or “free printable calendars” or “free printables planners” and make sure you have the time to peruse the results (!).
→ If you’re a techie kinda gal, there are a TON of apps and online calendar choices out there, many of them free. My favorite free calendar is Google’s, which I use for a TON of stuff, and is connected with my email, so that makes it super-convenient, too! I can also get push notifications to my phone which helps me stay on top of meetings/appointments even when I’m out and about.
→ I’ve found in this stage of life I’m in that I use both. It’s helpful for me to have “the big picture” on paper...projects/goals/routines/my Word of the Year, etc. But in terms of the day-to-day “to do”, combined with lesson planning and the meetings/appointments, I gotta go digital. That may apply to you, too!
OK, now that we have that decided, the THIRD QUESTION is this:
Do I need a SCHEDULE or a ROUTINE?
A schedule is time-driven and important for things like meetings and appointments. Plus, you may need this if you run a business from home or work outside the home, even part-time.
A routine is more flexible while still allowing things to get done. “After we wake up we eat. Next, we read the Bible and our morning chores. Afterward, we start math…” You get the drift, right? Few time constraints here, which permits our kids (and us) to really delve into a particular step without throwing the whole day off balance!
There are pros and cons to each, and again: the “right” tool to use is the one that works for YOU. As I point out in question one, some issues lend themselves to certain solutions, so be thoughtful and creative about the whole process...
The FINAL QUESTION will take the most time, and revolves around implementing all the groundwork you’ve already laid:
What organization or planning tool/s will I use?
Once you’ve gotten to this point, you now have a more realistic framework to come to an answer. For example:
Problem: You’re totally out of touch with the kids’ schoolwork assignments, and you’re a digital momma.
Possible solution: I’ve gotta give a plug here to HomeschoolBuyersCo-op’s Lesson Planet. It is AWESOME, and the best part of its many features is that it can sync with your phone, so even on those uber-busy days, you can get reminders/notifications about what’s going on with their lessons. Oh yeah, and CTC Math does something similar with their Monday-morning summaries of everything your student accomplished for the previous week...
Problem: The laundry is out of control and your husband (again) couldn’t find clean underwear this morning. You’re kinda old-school or a late-adapter of using tech tools 😉
Possible solution: A simple weekly or monthly calendar posted on the fridge can remind you what days you (or the kiddos!) will do certain chores. Bonus tip: Using a reward system along with that will go a long way to teaching your kids responsibility and a work ethic, too!
Problem: You forgot that it was your turn to bring in snacks for the kids’ co-op class today, but you were out-and-about so much (and where IS that planning book I bought?) who knows when you’d have made it anyway?
Possible solution: If you set up an online calendar using an app or push notifications from your laptop next time you can at least pick up some cookies at the store, right?
Now that you've gotten clear on the problem, I think you'll begin to sort out your options and decide on a solution. Once that is good for YOU and YOUR needs! At the very least, you'll now know what to look for!
Please remember this, friend: becoming organized is not...is never...a once-and-done process. Our family needs, situations, and environment are always changing. The kids are growing and school may look different each year. So don't get discouraged when something you tried or were successfully using last year no longer fits the bill.
Life is a process. We need to understand that, teach that to our kids, and give grace to ourselves if - no, when - we need to try something new!
- Here are two articles I wrote about planners/organization tools “What’s the best planner for your homeschool?” and “Preparing for the new school year: Get your Planner ON!”
- I refer to HomeschoolBuyersCoop Lesson Planet. They have a free trial that may make it worth your while to check out…
- I also referred to CTC Math. You can check CTC out here.
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