Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part 2

Organizing Our Homeschool

I've been homeschooling for 6 years now. It was not typically in style where I was when I started but I just knew when my oldest turned 5 that I couldn't send him away and so I began.

I was not born organized. I've come by it out of desperation. I've read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to organizing your home school and come across many different ways of doing things. I've gone back and forth with curriculum's and teaching styles yet there are a few things that have worked very well for us for a few years now no matter what curriculum we are using.

I'm going to focus on where to keep everything. I've heard many different suggestions on this. As homeschoolers we tend to collect everything we can find. I've seen free boxes at church and even picked up things at yard sales. If it's a good deal and we might use it sometime in our homeschooling career we bring it home. So, we have to find places to put the stuff.

I've heard it suggested that you box up and store the books you are not currently using and only keep out what you are. I tried this method however when I wanted to see if I had something, switched curriculum half way through because something wasn't working, or wanted to bless someone else in need, it was a real pain.

I like to keep everything I have out. I group it by subject and can see it easily. When I am given a box of books someone is no longer using, I keep what I "Know" I will use and pass on the rest. "You can't organize clutter!"

A great friend picked this up at an estate sale and then decided they didn't need it so I scored! I think it's an old china cabinet.

Here it is all closed up! NO Clutter and the best part, no flat surfaces to collect clutter. Flylady calls those "Hot spots".

Also in there is things like playdough, coloring supplies, stamps, learning toys for preschoolers only played with at school time, etc.

I keep my homeschooling stuff in my dining room which also dubs as a game room...

All of my games and puzzles are tucked neatly in there...

A scrap booking room...

Remember, keep things where you use them. My girls love to scrapbook. I enjoy it too but did not enjoy the mess we had to clean up and lug out when we were done. Now it's all right there!

There is one part of my dining room that does not function very well so I thought I'd include it.

I would love some suggestions here. This is above the sink in the kitchen. It just collects stuff. How can I make it useful? Help!

Anyway, back to where to keep stuff. My next favorite are my children's personal school supplies. I read of a lady whose husband built her a cabinet on wheels with dividers. She would move it around wherever they did school or wherever she felt like grading. I like the idea of "Mobile" so I came up with these a few years ago and have really benefited from it.

These are for my preschool age children. They keep all of their personal books and supplies in there. They also keep a pencil box with all of their utensils labeled with colored tape so I know who it belongs to when it is left out. Also notice the map under there. This is my dining table with a clear table cloth. This map came with a very expensive geography curriculum and they have learned more from sitting around this map then they did with the curriculum. My five year old will give you a pop quiz if you come over.

About first grade or so they graduate to these binders.

They hold everything!

They have according files that hold the books their reading and misc. workbooks and things. It holds their pencils and supplies. Even their rulers that they could never seem to find when the Math book would call for it.

And that is a flexible ruler, so they can't come to me with them broken anymore either!
I hole punch the bigger workbooks and keep everything in there filed by subject. These are great if we decide to do school snuggled up on the couch or go to the park which I've done a few times. They even brought them in to me in my bed when I had my surgery and we did a little. The older children also have desks in their rooms if they need some quiet and they can easily take them upstairs, supplies and all.

If you are looking to de-clutter some of your curriculum or are looking for new or used curriculum I've just discovered this great store by the Portland airport. It's called Exodus Books and they will buy your old curriculum and sell new and used curriculum for very great prices. They have everything organized by subject in the store and online!

Coming up next...Children's bedrooms!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part1

Top 10 Things I've learned from Flylady and More!

10. You can't organize clutter!

9. If it doesn't have a place (or you have 2 or 3 or 4 of them) it doesn't belong in your space.

8. Your laundry is done when it is washed, folded and put away. Not when your baskets are empty (which happens never).

We do about 20 loads of laundry a week here. I have a schedule and it comes out to about 3 loads a day Mon-Fri plus a load of wet towels after dinner each night. The kids and I sit down after nap time each day and fold and put away any clean laundry for the day. This also takes about 15 min. because we work together.

7. Never correct a helper when they are trying to HELP. This one's hard for me because I want to teach them to do it right (my way). I'm learning if I am thankful to them for their help, they will try harder next time. As they grow older they really are help! If I am impossible to please, they will stop trying.

6. Keep things where you use them and put them away as soon as you are done. This one is obvious but people rarely actually do it.

5. Keep my sink shining. I have white ceramic sinks in my house. I clean them with Clorox spray and then I dry them out after each use with a towel. After the dishes are done each meal, there is a wash tub under my sink to put dirty dishes in so my kitchen stays clean in between meals.

4. I clean my shower while I'm in it on the days I don't shave. I keep a magic eraser or I just use a cleaning rag and shampoo. Because I don't let the grime build up it doesn't even take elbow grease.

3. Swish and swipe my bathrooms.

I keep cleaning wipes and microfiber cloths under my bathroom sink. I wipe my counters, mirror, and sink every night in my evening routine. It takes maybe 2 min. I also keep a vase filled with soapy water with a toilet brush in it (those little bubble baths and hotel shampoos that you let clutter up your cabinet space is great for this). I swish it around in my toilet every night (5 seconds) and I haven't had to scrub my toilet since.

2. My daily routines.

The most functioning routine is my evening routine and makes a huge difference in the rest of my life.

Check calender
Lay clothes out for tomorrow
Straighten my bedroom (Even on the worst days this takes less then 5 min. because I've de-cluttered in here and everything has a place)
Swish and swipe my bathroom
Brush and floss my teeth, freshen up
Put towels in the dryer (Someone is assigned to put them in the washer after we clean up from dinner so they don't sit around and get stinky)
Send my hard working husband a goodnight text
Read my bible and pray

Aside from reading my bible this routine takes 15 min. tops and my bedroom and bathroom STAY clean. It seems like a lot of work after a long day but 15 is not that long. I have to remind myself how long it will take me later if I let my bathroom get grimy before I cleaned it and let things collect in my bedroom for days or even weeks before I touched it. It's also a nice place to do my devotions because there's nothing to distract me in this clean environment. My husband also comes home in the middle of the night and doesn't trip on anything! I could go on and on with this one...

1. If it takes less then 5 min. do it now or it will take more time later.

I do a zone each week in the month so the whole house gets a spring cleaning monthly in just 5-15 min. a day.

Week 1-Entryway and Dining room
Week 2-The kitchen
Week 3-Bathrooms
Week 4-Master bedroom
Week 5-The living room and stairs

My children have their daily chores and Wed. we have bible study in our home so we sweep, mop, and vacuum everywhere. We do a quick clean after all the kids are ready for bed (We run around and put everything in it's place). If this gets done quickly then we have time to read and sing while I'm putting them to bed.

The goal for all of these things is to have more time to focus on what's important. Also to have an open door in our home. Having people say they were coming for a visit used to put me in a full blown panic attack which was not very fun for my family because we were living in CHAOS (Can't Have Any One Over Syndrom). My home is not perfect but is functioning in a small amount of space with 9 people and a dog and I am a lot less stressed. (My husband enjoys it too!)