Homeschool Organization

How do you manage all the homeschooling supplies that are necessary for students in different grade levels?

My answer to this involves color. Right now I have three children of my five who are currently homeschooling, though of course they all eventually will be doing so and at the same time. To help with this, each child in the household (and even mom and dad) have an assigned color. We use this for school supplies, of course, but it even extends to their outdoor gear, shoes, etc. They all have rain coats (as we have been getting a lot of rain this past week where we are), sneakers, back packs, folders, pencil cases, notebooks and so on. Our youngest child’s diaper table has labels using his color. This method of organization can extend throughout your entire home. We simply buy duck tape in the colors for labeling. Slap it on a laundry hamper, you know who’s it is. Same with shelving, you name it. Our kids have the colors red, blue, pink, purple and yellow, in that order from oldest to youngest.
It does end up taking a little extra work when buying some things, like notebooks or coats, if you’re color coordinating, but it is doable and makes it easier to remember whose things are whose. And the kids do seem to come to identify with the colors they are assigned and prefer them over others as it signifies what is theirs, and they end up picking out items in those colors as well.

Giving Kids the Tools to Succeed

When children start learning, there is so much that they are going to need help with. As they grow and learn, they will slowly become more independent and be able to do things either by themselves or with less parental assistance then before. There will also come an age when the children will be able to help each other more.

Today as I was working with my first grader he asked me how to spell purple. Obviously this would be a super easy thing to just give him the answer. P-U-R-P-L-E. However, I much prefer to teach them that when they want to know something, they have ways to learn what they want to, without asking for a parent, as we are not always available. With five children, there are times when one will need to wait to have a question answered, but if they have the tools, they can answer it for himself.

So instead of spelling the word out, I asked him what he could think of that might have the word purple on it. He eventually came up with markers as an answer, and when he did, his excitement was palpable. He jumped off the couch and ran for our zipper pouch of markers, easily finding the one he needed. Several minutes later, I again saw him digging through the zipper pouch, so I asked him what he was doing. His response was black, and I saw him get the black marker and start writing that for a different problem in his workbook.

He had added another tool to his belt, making him a little more independent.

Though this is fairly simple, knowing where to find the spellings of colors or other common words, the main concept is much bigger. If students know where they can find the answer they are looking for, they often can and will. Another resource we use is the children also have an encyclopedia on their computer that allows them to look up information for themselves without accessing the Internet.

I am sure in your home you will have your own distinct resources for your children, but the key here is to give them the resources they need to learn when they are in that mode.

Intro to spelling with the bigs…

The bigs, as I call them, are my first and third grader. We have just started incorporating spelling into our curriculum since it wasn’t originally part of what we had been using, but through recent observation of different assignments, I deemed it necessary. I did a google search and compiled a list of words for them from first to seventh grade.

Then I had them sit at the dinning table and we went through the list. My goal was by starting at first grade with both children, I could establish what each one knew already and not waste time re-teaching what they already know. My first grader quickly became discouraged and was soon dismissed from the table, but thankfully only after several words had already been eliminated.

My third grader was definitely more persistent and managed to keep going for quite some time. My original idea had been to test to the point of them missing fifteen words from any and all levels of spelling and then making those fifteen words be the assignment for our first week.

I made a list with nine different methods of practicing their spelling words, methods that would allow them to turn the work in to me at the end of the week. Some of these were as common as writing the words five times each, and some were slightly more unique like writing the words with the consonants and the vowels in different colors. I would have liked to be able to give them more than simply nine method options, so if you have any methods to share of assignments that can be turned in on paper, please feel free to share them with me by email or leave a comment.