Homeschooling Your Way: A Focus on Independent Work

source: Larsz
source: Larsz

This week we’ll be talk about organization for homeschoolers. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility it affords families to tailor school to fit their lifestyle. Because I’m just starting out on this journey, I’ve asked several people to share their experiences and systems with us. And of course we’d love to hear from you in the comments with your experiences as well!

The following is a guest post from Joy, who blogs at Lymeade Homeschool about homeschooling while battling a chronic illness:

Where in your home do you homeschool? Do you have different areas for read-alouds, workbooks and/or independent work? Is there anywhere that’s off limits?

We have 2 living areas, so the “den” is our main homeschool area. But my daughter takes her independent work where ever she please—including her room and the living room. Occasionally, we read in the living room (such as when the den couch is holding laundry that is waiting to be folded). Our television is in the living room, and we watch our Math-U-See DVD there.

Do you have a set schedule for your school days? Do you have a set start time? A set end time?

I teach from about 10:00 to noon. My 3rd grader starts her independent work before that time and continues it until she is finished. I used to require that work to be completed before our read-aloud time, but that made things difficult for me when she got her work done “late,” so this is a new schedule for us. This year, I’m expecting it to be started in the morning and done by afternoon. No play until the work is done. After lunch time, she has a little while to play with her younger sister and then she has quiet time in her room. Since she loves her time to play, she wants to get her work done beforehand. But if she doesn’t, it no longer messes up my routine.

I also made a schedule for my preschool daughter, complete with clip art so she can “read” it. Most of her things are things like get dressed, but it also includes her art journal and doing 2-3 workboxes a day.

How are your school supplies organized? Do you stock up on extra supplies? How do you organize the extras?

I created a spin-off on the “workbox” idea. I store a lot of our items in a drawer cart. I use a 6 drawer cart similar to this one, and I have all of my daughter’s independent work in the top drawer (including a pencil) plus 5 enrichment drawers, one per day. This allows me to include extras, but only have to fill it or think about it once a week.

When cleaned up, my school room looks mostly like an office. About two-thirds of our den is a sitting area. Instead of a coffee table, I have an old family trunk, which has some extra linens and some extra school boxes I’m not using this year. One-third (behind the couch) is a little office. It has a tall bookcase, my desk, a computer desk and a semi-circle table, the my daughter uses as a desk (when she bothers to sit there!). Hidden behind the couch are 2 short bookcases. On top of them is a lamp and the books we are currently reading, so they are easy to access. Right off this room is our laundry room, where we keep some things in cabinets as well as my younger daughter’s school boxes.

What do you use for recordkeeping? Do you store completed work? Do you go above and beyond the recordkeeping requirements of your state?

Since my state has no record keeping requirements, I do not do much. I do have complete math workbooks and our Sonlight Instructor’s guides which show what we completed (though not when). When we get to high school age or if we start considering transitioning to public school, I will probably end up storing records in the garage.

What is one area that you wish was more organized about your homeschooling?

I’m still trying to figure out where I want to store the things I use for the enrichment drawers, since I rotate them every week. They are mostly educational toys, games, and puzzles, and right now I have everything in a storage box, but I’m looking for a storage place close by.  I probably need to clean out some of my desk drawers and make some space. The only problem is time!