Aug 012013

Are you struggling to manage your home organization, homeschooling, housework and/or meeting the needs of multiple children?

Whether it is YOUR home organization skills at issue, or your children’s, using a “system” for both you and your children can help your home and homeschool run more smoothly. You can learn home organization skills a little at a time. Every technique and skill you learn will contribute to your overall home organization over time.

Let’s look at Home Organization separately from your homeschooling management.

Homeschool Planning – Academics

One of the biggest issues new homeschool parents have is planning and management of their students’ academic program.

If you purchase a pre-planned or comprehensive curriculum, the package often comes with a schedule for the teaching parent.  If so, you have the organization of the program already laid out for you.

However, if you want to use a variety of curricula sources, and need to lay out your child’s lesson plans, it is beneficial to have a form you can use to plan out which assignments your child will do each day.  After using a variety of planning forms, I’ve created my own form. The form is in a Word Document format. It is modifiable to suit your own needs. This form is a useful tool for you to use in beginning to lay out your own child’s schoolwork. It is available as a free download here.

More about teaching student organization skills below box:

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For many children with learning difficulties, particularly those with ADHD or executive functioning disorder, organization of papers is often an issue.  Organization skills require a lot of direct teaching and reinforcement.

A child must be taught an organization method. He must be taught how to file papers, where to put papers, where to place books and notebooks.  Placement must be consistent, and checked daily or more frequently by a parent/teacher.  Often, rewards must be put into place for reinforcement.

With my child, we made daily checklists with every assignment or required effort listed.  Initially, I would check his list multiple times per day to be sure he was checking off each completed item.  As he began to “remember” to check off items, I began checking his checklist at the end of each day.  From there we moved to checking it once per week, as long as assignments were being turned in as listed.

Once my child consistently checked off his own work, and had obviously embraced the organization system, we began working on filing assignments behind each tab when completed.  It took us nearly a whole school year to reach a point where our child would check off work without prompting.

Whatever system you use, make sure it makes sense to your child. Make sure it isn’t too difficult to manage. I created my own system using the planning documents shared in the opening of this article.  We bought a “Trapper Keeper” zippered notebook so that pages would fall out.   If you would like a ready-made system, you might consider the Super Study Skills Binder System. I received a complimentary copy of this system for review. You have the option of buying the “full” binder system including the binder, paper, dividers, etc., or the purchasing the heart of the system which includes the organizational forms and a teaching DVD.

Regardless of whether you buy a ready made system like the Super Study Skills Binder System or create your own notebook and system, it will require constant monitoring and teaching in the beginning.  Once your child becomes organized, it is a huge relief. Becoming more organized is a skill that will serve your child well throughout the rest of his life!

Homeschool Management – Multiple Children

For parents with multiple children, figuring out how to meet each child’s needs can be a challenge.

Depending on the ages of your children, how you approach teaching management across your multiple age groups can vary quite a bit. The variety of personalities involved can introduce all kinds of challenges too.

If your children are close in age and academic ability, then you can opt to work with your children simultaneously—same subject, same level of instruction for more than one child.

If your children are using the same or similar curricula, your life can be easiser. If the assignments can be given so that each child works at his or her own level of ability that helps too. Teaching your children simultaneously can be very beneficial to you. Teaching your children together reduces the length of your school day, which in turn allows more time for activities and fun.

Some parents have concerns about group instruction holding one child back or advancing another. However, each child gains an understanding of the material equal to his cognitive ability. This type of group instruction works best for science, social studies, and literature where the children are relatively close in age. It also only tends to work for content-based subjects. It does not work well for skills based subjects like learning to read, write, and math computation.

Managing multiple children can seem overwhelming, especially in the beginning. As you try different ways of managing your children’s learning, you are likely to find a way that works for you.

Home Organization of your HOME

Oh the books and papers and laundry and lack of home organization… It is definitely difficult to maintain your household when your home is also a full-time school! When your home is also a full-time family living environment, home organization can seem like an impossible or never-ending task.

Any level of task delegation, home organization, and planning you can use will benefit you and your entire family.  In our household, aside from carefully planning our schooling, using chore charts and meal planning has helped lighten my personal load.

The distribution of responsibilities in our household helped my guys when they went off to college too. They knew a lot about managing a household, which helped them a great deal. Aside from household chores, teaching your kids the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing can go a long way in keeping your house out of a state of chaos.

When your kids are young, give them small daily jobs to do. Give small jobs like picking up their own toys, which will contribute to your home organization. As your children get older, give them more complex daily tasks–setting the table, collecting and carrying out the trash, clearing the table after dinner, feeding pets, etc. Having your kids pitch in and help with home organization makes the task much easier for you. This is especially true when your kids adopt responsibility for helping out.

For your convenience, here is a copy of a blank chore chart. There is also an example of the chore chart filled out as we used them in our household.  The top chores with no monetary value were the child’s non-optional chores.  The other chores were available for our guys to earn money.  Our boys had a minimal number of optional chores that were required each month. The number of chores was equivalent to their age.

Home organization Includes Family Meal Planning

For family meal management, I sat down during the summer when I was lesson planning for the year and planned our meals for the year too. YES, for the YEAR!  We have used this meal planning system for more than a decade. It is SO NICE not to have to think about “What’s for dinner?” each day.

Having our meals planned ahead of time made grocery shopping easier.  It also allowed us to involve everyone in preparing meals because everyone in the family knew what was for dinner.

Our plans are not set in concrete (I write our plans in pencil). We can move meals around and change them as needed.  If you’d like to use our meal planning method, I’ve written down the steps I took. At the request of my friends, I have created an inexpensive book explaining our method. It is called:

Cook’s Prize Winning Annual Meal Planning System: “Plan once per year and you are done!”

For household organization, may I also suggest “Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Lifehome organization for effective home organization tips.

I’m not a home organization maven when it comes to keeping my whole household in order, so I’ll leave major advice in home organization up to another expert. However, I do hope this information about home organization is helpful to you. 😉