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.
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 a reading 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.
Note apps our staff and readers recommend:
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.
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.
Planners our staff and readers recommend:
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!
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.
Looking for some rolling cart inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board!
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!
Office supplies our staff and readers use and love:
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.
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!
Meal planning tips from our staff and readers:
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!
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!