Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Organize me, please!

I am definitely not an expert in the field of organizing- just ask my family! I try to be organized just to maintain a level of sanity in my house. Here are a few tips that I have come up with on my own and a few that I have shamelessly stolen from others! Enjoy.

School for multiple children
· Try to determine what curricula that you can do together (science/Apologia, history/Story of the World, Bible, Geography)
· Keep in mind what really “must” be accomplished and focus on getting that done and don’t worry about the “extras” (For example, Latin or logic- Sure, they are great but focus on math and reading first.)
· Some subjects do not need to be grade specific during the elementary years
· You can vary the expectations depending on age/ability without making more work or planning for yourself
· Utilize a lesson plan form that incorporates subjects done together
· Here are a few great websites to help in this area: http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/gettingorganized/planner.phphehomeschoolmom.com/gettingorganized/planner.php , http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/gettingorganized/000049.php , http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/gettingorganized/allplanners.phpchoolmom.com/gettingorganized/allplanners.php , http://homeschooling.about.com/cs/recordkeeping/ht/htrecords.htm , http://momishome2.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-example-of-mid-range-planning.html , http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/bbullard/646197/ , http://www.naturemoms.com/lesson-planning-for%20homeschool.html

· Start your day with the subjects that you can do together as a family
· Look at the remaining subjects for each child and determine which ones need your supervision or one on one instruction
· Schedule the subjects for each child while trying to alternate between the independent and dependent subjects
· For example, if one child is doing their parent centered subjects first, then have the other children doing their child centered subjects and then alternate.
· You should only be working one on one with one child at a time and the other children should be self-teaching.
· Post each child’s schedule where they can see it during school so that they know what is next on the agenda.
· Introduce the idea of the “Mystery Folder”- Each child has a folder for them with independent “seat” work that they can complete if they are finished with their other work and are waiting on mom to finish working with a sibling. This work should be educational but fun so that the child does not dread doing it.
· Here are a few websites to help in this area: http://unafamiliaalaskena.blogspot.com/2009/02/individual-work-in-homeschool.html , http://pocketsoftime.blogspot.com/2008/06/friday-meme-how-do-you-schedule.htmltsoftime.blogspot.com/2008/06/friday-meme-how-do-you-schedule.html , http://thepreciousmind.blogspot.com/2009/02/5-minute-homeschool.htmlousmind.blogspot.com/2009/02/5-minute-homeschool.html , http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/homeschool-planning-how-would-Jesus-schedule/isdom.com/blog/homeschool-planning-how-would-Jesus-schedule/ , http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/kristenph/669878/w.homeschoolblogger.com/kristenph/669878/ , http://organizedhome.com/time-management-homeschool-familiesement-homeschool-families

-School Work Space
· If possible, have an area for each child’s books. You can use shelving, plastic crates, boxes, or whatever works best for your school space.
· This is their area that they must keep organized. Give them the tools they need, but they are responsible for keeping up with what they have.
· Don’t be too authoritative over this area. Give them control over their work space.
· Let each child make their own clipboard so that they can make their work transportable.
· Have a designated area for materials that are used outside of school time but still need to be accessed by the kids every day. For example, have a special basket for their piano notebooks. Along with that, have a three ring notebook for their piano music so that you do not have loose papers flying around the room. If you have a family reading time, have a basket in the reading area with the books everyone is reading.
· Here are a few websites that can help in this area: http://organizedhome.com/storage-strategies-homeschool-families , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/organize-your-homeschool.html , http://www.educationbug.org/a/creating-a-homeschool-area.html , http://www.howtodothings.com/education/how-to-create-a-home-school-classroom , http://www.homeschool.com/articles/Calvert/default.asp , http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/101616/how_to_create_a_homeschool_room_in.html?cat=30associatedcontent.com/article/101616/how_to_create_a_homeschool_room_in.html?cat=30

· Use a week calendar to designate the chores each child is to do for each week day. I make two different weeks and then alternate them each week so that they children are doing different chores every other week.
· Set a specific time for chores to be done; for example, after school work is completed.
· Do not allow play time until chores are completed to your satisfaction.
· Make sure that your child understands what “clean” is. An interesting way to do this is to clean the area yourself and have the child watch you do it and let them help organize their stuff. Then take pictures from various angles around the room. Develop the pictures and mount them on a piece of paper and place them on the back of the room door. When the child is asked to clean the bathroom, refer them to the picture so that they understand that the bathroom is not clean until it looks like the pictures on the door.
· Designate an area of your house where each child has a “box” for their stray items that you inevitably will pick up during the day. At the end of each day, have each child empty their box and put all of the items in their place. I have a box for each child on the stairs and when I am walking around the house during the day and see an item I pick it up and drop it in their box. Then it becomes their responsibility to put it up, not mine.
· Give each child a small laundry basket for their closet. They must keep their dirty clothes in the basket. Choose a Laundry day for the chore calendar and have each child bring their basket downstairs to be washed. Depending on the age of the child, you can teach them how to wash their own clothes. If they are not old enough, you can wash, dry, and fold their clothes and place them in their basket. After you are done, they must take their basket to their room and put up their own clothes. Even young children can do this with a little guidance.
· Here are a few websites that offer help in this area: http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/free-printable-child-chore-charts.html , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/free-printable-child-chore-charts.html , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/free-printable-child-chore-charts.html , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/free-printable-child-chore-charts.html

· If your family chooses to do an allowance for your children, designate a payment day every week.
· Have the oldest child keep a payment log book (notebook) where he/she can record the date of payment and amount paid to each child. Sometimes it could be helpful to count what is in the container before hand to make sure that the correct amount is in Give and Save. Sometimes my kids have snuck out a little to supplement some purchase!
· Provide three small containers for each child for Give, Save, and Spend written on them.
· After payment is given, have each child deposit the agreed upon amount of their allowance in each container.
· Here are a few websites that can help in this area: http://www.kidsmoney.org/allart.htm , http://www.prosperity4kids.com/allowance.shtml , http://primary-school-lesson-plans.suite101.com/article.cfm/an_elementary_classroom_allowance_program , http://life.familyeducation.com/allowance/jobs-and-chores/34438.html , http://www.activeallowance.com/

Household Duties
-Meal planning
· Create a menu for each week of the month and number them 1-4.
· Based on the weekly menu, make a grocery list with any items need for the recipes that you have chosen for the menu. You can also add to your list any items that you need to purchase weekly (milk and bread).
· Think about your weekly schedule when you are creating your menus. Will you be tired from practice on Tuesday night? If so, then plan a meal that you can cook ahead in a slow cooker so that it can be ready when you are. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are exhausted and have to come home to cook over a hot stove and fighting kids!
· On Sunday, place the weekly menu on the refrigerator so that everyone can see what is for dinner so they can stop asking every five minutes!
· Try to find a day of the week that your family can do something fun for dinner; maybe you can have a Friday night pizza night or a Tuesday night breakfast for dinner night. IT will give the kids something to look forward to.
· Here are a few great websites to help in this area: http://www.menus4moms.com/ , http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/pdf/menuchoretodothsm.pdf , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/menu-planning.html , http://www.heartofwisdom.com/heartathome/homeschool/homemaking/menu-plan-monday/ , http://organizedhome.com/printable/household-notebook/weekly-menu-planner , http://organizedhome.com/kitchen-tips/menu-planning-save-time-kitchen , http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html , http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/menuplanning.htm , http://orgjunkie.com/

-Calendar organizing
· Every Sunday night create a “To do” list for the week. Make different categories for yourself- “To Call”, “To Email”, “To Pay”.
· Keep one central calendar that everyone can see and update it once a week.
· Whenever you get an invitation, email or make an appointment, write it down on your calendar right away so that it is not forgotten.
· Leave yourself margin in your day. Don’t think just because you have an hour that is unaccounted for that you must squeeze something into it!
· Give yourself a head start when going somewhere. If you need to leave at 12:00 start telling the kids to get ready to go at 11:30. This gives them time to get all of the necessary things ready and on their bodies without causing you unnecessary stress. Kids do not have the foresight of adults. They cannot plan ahead as well as we can.
· Here are a few websites to help in this area: http://momishome2.blogspot.com/search/label/calendars , http://www.homeorganizeit.com/organizedhomeschooler.html , http://www.donnayoung.org/calendars/index.htm , http://712educators.about.com/od/lessonplans/ht/lesson_calendar.htm

-Email/Phone Calls
· Designate a time during your day to do email and phone calls.
· Do not answer the phone during school time unless it is an emergency. Our answering machine message tells each caller that school is in session and calls will not be returned until 2:00 every day.
· Remember not to get stuck in front of the computer for long periods of time. We do not want our kids with their noses in the computer for hours at a time, so remember that they learn more from what they see you doing than from what you are telling them.
· Do not feel like you have to respond to every email. Hit the important ones first and if you can get around to the others, great.
· REMEMBER- email and telephone are for YOUR convenience not to be a shackle around your neck.
· Here are a few great web sites to help with this area: http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/gettingorganized/timemanagement.php , http://education.more4kids.info/66/homeschool-time-management/ , http://www.homeschoolviews.com/askamom/askamom-sept05.html , http://eclectichomeschool.org/articles/article.asp?articleid=319 , http://www.articlesbase.com/homeschooling-articles/time-management-homeschooling-some-useful-tips-939960.html

· If you can do it in less than two minutes, do it right way. Do not stack it up on the counter- put it away.
· Make your bed first thing; it makes you feel like the house is cleaner!
· Remember that you do not have to be able to eat off of the floor for your house to be clean. Good enough is just that- Good Enough!
· Your kids will never remember how clean your house is, only how much you love them!
· Great websites for ideas on this area: http://www.flylady.net/ , http://www.achristianhome.com/Homemaking/Where%20do%20I%20start.htm , http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/early_learning_at_home/62377 , http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs12-kathyvonduyke.html , http://organizedhome.com/home-management-homeschool-families , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/house-cleaning-tips.html , http://www.homeschool-curriculum-for-life.com/organize-your-laundry.html

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