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Organizational Tools I Couldn’t Homeschool Without

homeschool organization tools on a table

As a homeschooling mom of two kids, I am well aware that my stress level is directly related to how organized (or how disorganized) my life is. Children’s author A.A. Milne once said,

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

I can definitely relate! So whether it’s the beginning of your school year or somewhere in the middle, taking the time to get organized (and stay organized!) can have a huge impact on the success of your school year—and your stress level. I have a few must-have tools that help me keep our homeschool (and home) running smoothly.

7 Must-Have Organizational Tools for Homeschooling

  1. A Note-taking App

    I have been burned way too many times after telling myself, “I don’t need to write that down…I’ll remember it.” If you can relate, this tip is for you.

    Keeping my note-taking app at the ready is a convenient way to immediately capture important thoughts that pop into my head—like the item that needs to be added to my grocery list, the doctor’s appointment that needs to be scheduled, the multiplication fact my son just missed, or the words my daughter misspelled during her science lesson. At the end of the day, I go through my notes and file them on my calendar, lesson plan, or grocery list.

    If you prefer a low-tech option, a dozen note cards will do the trick. In addition to being convenient, jotting notes on notecards instead of in an app can help remove the distractions that a mobile device can create. And note cards can easily be sorted into their most logical physical locations–the note about your son’s math fact can be tucked into your teacher’s manual and the misspelled word can be added to his spelling review box. Convenient, right?

    Whether you prefer an app or a note card for quickly recording notes, this simple capture system is a great way to keep you from becoming distracted from the task at hand. When you immediately transfer a thought to a note, you free up your mind with the assurance that you won’t forget to come back to it later.

  2. Note apps our staff and readers recommend:

  3. A Planner

    Planners (and the people who love them) run the gamut from super basic to super detailed, but no matter where you are on the spectrum, investing in a planner can make a huge difference in your homeschool. Luckily, there is a planner out there for everyone.

    Basic Planners: Personally, I’m not great at planning far ahead, and even though I’m envious of those beautifully laid out planners with weeks and weeks of pre-planned projects and lessons, that’s just not the way my brain works. A basic day planner gives me just what I need to stay organized AND sane. I use my planner to keep track of important dates—birthdays, extracurriculars, and anything else that has a reliable recurring date. I also record daily notes about what we accomplished each day: where we left off in our read-aloud, what math lesson we completed, and what project we worked on. It may be minimal, but this approach helps me formulate a general game plan for the next day and helps me stay on track without having to do a ton of planning in advance.

    an open page of a planner with pens and paperclips

    Detailed Homeschool Planners: These planners are specifically designed for the homeschooler who wants to plan every day in detail. In addition to space for detailed lesson plans for multiple children, these planners usually have ample space for household planning as well. These complete planners make it possible to plan and organize everything in your life—all in one place.

    Digital Planners: Some people prefer to do everything on a device, including their planning. Thankfully, there are a number of options available for homeschoolers who want all the digital things! Some digital planners even feature lesson plans for a specific curriculum, all set up and ready to be scheduled. Digital planners can be pricier than paper planners, but if you’re feeling creative, you can create your own digital planner using Excel or Google Sheets or even a Kanban board.

  4. Planners our staff and readers recommend:

  5. A Chore Chart

    There are LOTS of great reasons to get your kids to help out with household chores and a chore chart can ensure that the chores actually get done. We worked out a point and reward system to use with our kids and it’s been a huge success!

    Our chore chart contains a list of weekly chores and rewards, each with an assigned value. Some chores are worth more, others less. Likewise, some rewards cost more than others. The kids earn “bucks” for completed chores that can be saved to purchase rewards. They even store their bucks in their very own wallets. Our rewards include screen time, special snacks, or a new book, but you can choose rewards that will motivate your kids.

    Whether or not you choose to offer rewards in exchange for chores, having a chart to track your children’s weekly responsibilities is a huge help. A chore chart doesn’t have to be complicated and there are LOTS of options available with a quick Google search.

    Our easy-to-use printable chore charts are the perfect solution for a family with multiple kids!

    a chore chart download graphic
  6. A Rolling Cart

    How awesome are these 3-tiered rolling carts? I just love them! There is no end to the number of uses these handy carts have. Keep craft or school supplies organized and all in one place, sort each child’s curriculum in separate tiers or use the tiers to separate subjects, store library books—the sky’s the limit! And the best part is that they can be rolled out of sight at the end of the day. You can find carts like the one seen below at Amazon, Michaels (check out all the colors!), or Ikea.

    a teal 3-tier rolling cart with homeschool materials

    Looking for some rolling cart inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board!

  7. Colored Pens, Sticky Notes, and Paper Clips

    As far as general office supplies go, these three are at the top of my list! I keep a plentiful supply of colored pens, sticky notes, and paper clips in a 3-slot organizer that is never far from my side! I’m a sucker for color-coded notes in my planner. Sticky notes are perfect for jotting down my thoughts or for keeping my place in a manual. And paper clips always find a way to come in handy! Bonus points if your paper clips come in cute colors and shapes. It just makes organizing a bit more fun. And double bonus points if you happen to find a rolling cart with a special spot for organizing all the fun little stuff!

  8. Office supplies our staff and readers use and love:

  9. A Weekly Meal Plan

    As I said before, I’m really not a huge planner, but meal times are the one exception. Homeschoolers’ weekdays are often packed to the brim and dinnertime can roll around pretty quickly. But you can eliminate the “what’s for dinner” blues by creating a weekly meal plan. I find that my days go so much smoother when I’m not stressing about making dinner, so here’s what works for me. Every weekend, I make a list of easy-to-prepare meals, shop for the ingredients, and do some simple prepping. I’ve found that organizing my list ahead of time, making sure I have the necessary ingredients on hand, and employing my kiddos in the meal-prep process has put a bit of fun back into a task that most homeschool moms dread! You might even want to experiment with using DIY freezer meals or meal plans you can buy to make your daily meal prep job even easier.

    a partially filled out meal planner page

    Download our printable weekly meal planner!

    Be sure your meal plan includes plenty of Crockpot or Instant Pot recipes! Especially when combined with a freezer meal or weekly meal plan, a slow cooker or Instant Pot can greatly reduce your daily meal prep time. I mean, what’s better than finishing your school day knowing that the dinner you pulled from the freezer in the morning will be ready to eat when it’s time for dinner. Here’s an easy slow cooker recipe to get you started: Marie’s favorite Crockpot Chicken Tacos is a keeper. Thank you, Crockpot!

  10. Meal planning tips from our staff and readers:

  11. Storage, Storage, and More Storage!

    Homeschooling requires a LOT of stuff. And storing all that stuff in an organized, easy-to-access, easy-to-use way is critical to having an efficient, low-stress homeschool experience. However, choosing a storage system isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your storage solutions have to work for you and your family. And there are MANY factors that go into making these choices, not least of which is cost. But even low-cost storage options can help keep a busy homeschool running efficiently and effectively!

  12. Storage solutions our staff and readers recommend:

Share your favorite organizational tools for homeschooling in the comments and we’ll add them to the boxes in our post!

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Leave a Reply

Joy

says:

I love using GoodNotes 5! It’s an easy-to-use note-taking app, a pdf reader and pdf annotation as well. I use it for my digital planner and for digital journaling our homeschool days.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the recommendation for GoodNotes, Joy! Sounds like a very versatile app!

Carolyn Forte

says:

That’s a nice and useful list for the “organized” learning style parents. But, not every homeschool parent will profit from using these tools. I’m heavier on the active and artistic styles. I actually homeschooled for 14 years without using ANY of the items on the list unless you count using a planner for the first two weeks of school for several years and giving it up as useless. I was a public school teacher, by the way, so I know quite well how to use a planner. I learned it didn’t fit our style at all. I don’t think my kids’ education suffered. They got bachelor degrees in Aviation Technology and Theology, are happily married with 3 kids each. I’m only posting this to encourage those like me who just don’t conform to the “organized” style. Homeschooling free form is just as valid and successful as homeschooling according to a pre-planned schedule. I talk to parents every day who feel discouraged because they and their kids don’t conform to what they perceive as an ideal homeschool style. There isn’t one. Matthew 6:33

Roxanne Little

says:

This was so encouraging!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Carolyn! So true and helpful!

I’ve homeschooled for over 20 years myself, and I have never had a rolling cart. But I must say, that “storage, storage, and more storage” certainly rings true to me! Or course, my homeschool approach has always been a mix of literature and hands-on, so we have amassed tons of books and craft/building/art/tools/etc. stuff!

Angela

says:

Thank you for the encouragement

Shellie

says:

I am a planner and I used to do a written planner every year, which I loved. The last several years though, I’ve opted for an online planner, which has been a game changer. I tried several before I settled on Homeschool Planet Planner. I love the ease and flexibility of it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the recommendation, Shellie!

Natalie

says:

Love these ideas. I will definitely be using the chore charts. What a fun organizational tool. Also, I have a desk planner that I glue huge magnets on the back, and I stick in on the fridge. Everything anyone in the family needs to do gets written on the calendar. I can see monthly all the appointments, important tests, sports, etc.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great idea, Natalie. Thank you for sharing it! Having a single place for the whole family to see what is coming up must be very helpful.

Heather

says:

I have 6 children, and we’re finishing up our 2nd year of homeschooling, 1st year of me choosing and teaching curriculum for all 5 school aged kiddos. This year had it’s ups and downs but being organized or not was the deal breaker to our school day. I love the rolling cart idea. I have one, just need to figure out how to use it in our homeschool space.
This was our first year using All About Reading for my youngest and she loved it so much we moved through levels 1 and 2. I can not say enough thank yous for helping her learn to love reading and find it enjoyable instead of a chore. I love watching her excel and thrive and knowing I had something to do with that. Such a different feeling than watching your child learn at a school knowing someone else is teaching them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that All About Reading is working well for you, Heather!

Brittany

says:

These are all such excellent ideas! I wish I would have found this at the beginning of my homeschool journey! I never realized how much work making 3 meals for a family of 6 would be, or how much better my memory is after I write something down. Without a written planner, we’d never make it anywhere on the right days at the right times! I definitely need to get on the note taking app too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Brittany! Yes, it’s a wonder how much better I remember tasks after I have written them down, even if I never look at the list.

Laura Q

says:

Thank you for this list. I’m trying to be more organized.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Laura.

Amanda

says:

Good tips! I have a lot of planning tools I use daily! My number one, most helpful form is a weekly schedule for homeschool that I made. I print one for each of my kids. It keeps me on track every day. I have a section for every thing we do so I don’t forget things. Like for my son, for language arts, I have AAR, fluency sheet, flashcards, phonemic awareness, extra practice, spelling, fluent reading, echo/buddy/challenging reading, grammar and handwriting! That sounds like a lot but when you just do a little in each, each day it works well. I’d be lost without planning!

Randi

says:

Thanks for these tips. I’m always looking for way to be more organized with all that homeschooling requires.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Randi. I hope this helps you with your organization goals.

E

says:

Thank you for all of these helpful resources! I appreciate you putting the list together.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome. I’m glad this was helpful for you.

Julie

says:

I like how you include recommendations from staff and readers on this post. 👍🏻

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Julie!

Shantreis

says:

This list is spot on! There are several that made my list and a couple that I will be investing in. I enjoyed reading the tips and pointers. Thank you for sharing!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this list was helpful for you, Shantreis!

Amanda

says:

Thanks for sharing these great ideas! I definitely need an organizational system to store all the things.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amanda.

Earlene M Sorrells

says:

great ideas

Renatta

says:

Loves these ideas! Sticky notes and colorful pens are must haves at our table as well!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Renatta! I think sticky notes and colorful pens are must-haves whether you are homeschooling or not. I use them for everything!

Colleen

says:

I have been struggling to find a homeschool planner I really like. Thanks for the links.

carrie

says:

I couldn’t find one that met my needs so I made my own. Lots of free printable pages that you need and I made an excel sheet that I fill in for our weekly to dos (what math assignments, pages to read, etc). I found it so much easier than having to write it all in every week. I used the rings from Happy Planner and got a super cheap cover from Office Depots ring binder system. I got the whole punch on ebay. And for maybe $25 it will last me for ever and I can adapt it as our year goes in or if we hange things up.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing how you made your own planner that exactly meets the needs of your homeschool, Carrie! What a great idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Colleen. I hope this helps you find a planner that works wonderfully for you.

Hannah Hughes

says:

Will be saving these if I continue homeschooling my cousin next year!

Laura Wolff

says:

Súper helpful tools. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Laura!

Amanda

says:

Such great tips and tools! And love the chore chart!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Amanda!

Angela

says:

I love all of this! I’m a planner, organizer and love having things color coded!

Tasha

says:

I’m excited to use the chore chart. Thank you.

Sarah

says:

Great tips

Kylie P

says:

I didn’t think I needed a rolling cart until I got one and it’s the best thing ever!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Everyone I know that has a rolling cart loves it, Kylie! I have resisted getting one, so far…

Heidi Edmonds

says:

Helpful, thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Heidi.

Merysa Rios

says:

Thank you for the tips! I like the idea about the rolling cart! I should definitely invest in one!

Kristen Hale

says:

Great ideas definitely need to get some of these organizing things!

Nichole F

says:

Thank you for the great tips! Staying organized is such a struggle.

angela

says:

thank you so much for this post, and the free PDF very helpful! :-)

Stacy

says:

Love these ideas, I really need to get a cart though. We have such a small space organization is the key to our success

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this gave you some ideas for organization, Stacy!

Heidi

says:

I have to have a planner. I like my bullet journal for it. I am still a pencil and paper person digital I just can’t get use to even though I have tried.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m with you, Heidi! I like my digital calendar (I can easily set up reoccurring events), but I need paper for planning.