Is Keeping your Homeschooling Space Organized Important?
by Ann Zeise
Contrary to what some perfectionist homeschool moms espouse, organization is one of the LEAST important factors of a successful school year. If your household and school room (school room? What’s that?) are organized, you may have a much smoother and more enjoyable time with your homeschooling, but I sincerely doubt it will make a huge difference. I shall leave this unbelievable mother nameless and unlinked.
“I don’t know how many projects we’ve had to put off because we couldn’t find the book or an item we needed for a project. It doesn’t have to be that way, once again, I’m using the month of August to dejunk, reorganize and focus on a smoother running household.”
My hunch is that she isn’t that organized, but wished she was, so she writes articles on how to be organized. Works like New Year’s resolutions: if you write it down, maybe it will come true!
The WHOLE month of August? C’mon! Get out and enjoy the fine weather! There will be many a wintry day when you will be stuck in the house and can organize closets then, if you are so inclined!
How can homeschooling happen at all if mom is constantly cleaning house? You’ve got appliances! Teach the kids to use them as needed.
Our whole house is one unfinished project awaiting the right mood to get things done. So what? Cobwebs (aka free fly catchers) and what I call “data heaps” can wait, let’s go to the park for a softball game. The really important things like bats, gloves and softballs are right out there, stashed haphazardly by the front door so if a neighborhood friend should appear, my son is ready to go.
My organization around this desk consists of a box for bills, a pile of things to read and possibly comment upon on my websites, and a stash of “I’ll go through this after the bills get paid and the essential reading gets read.”
There’s a section of my bookshelf dedicated to books about organization and the ADD woman. I’ve read them, at least in part. Even went to far to, as one suggested, make up 3×5 cards to organize my tasks. If I can ever lay my hands on the file box I put those in, I may give that one another whirl.
I have a Visor. It was great fun. Something is wrong with it right now. Fresh batteries, but it won’t come up. Think I’ll go back to my older system of just carrying a little, cheap notebook in my purse, though the ones that cost about a dollar more and have a sturdy cardboard cover seem to last better.
Our compulsive homeschool mom suggests that you get rid of junk. Well, if it is truly trash or garbage, do dump it. But junk? Heck! Figure out how you can recycle it back into being a productive member of your household or donate it to the Goodwill or Salvation Army folks. Worse comes to worse, turn it into an art project!
We’re compulsive recyclers. We don’t open our mail by the trash bin, but by the recycling bin or the shedder. Around here thieves have been stealing credit card offers and having a grand time, so this “chore” has become a necessity. The paper shreds are either given to a young neighbor for bedding for his pet rat, or put in the compost pile. Need worms for fishing?
What’s with having a school room? We’re a HOME first! Studying happens where ever anyone is comfortable and the surface can bear the project. Reading can happen in the hammock, math on the carpeted floor, history while diving through old family albums, PE on a bike ride, chemistry in the kitchen, botany out in the yard, and so on.
At our home, books are enticingly piled next to beds, between the lounge chairs and the TV, on the desks next to the computers, on bookshelves where they belong, or in piles on the floor for the books recently or not yet read. I’ve only gotten fiercely organized about library books, as we were paying too much in fines. They had to all be on a table next to a person’s bed and no where else.
When things get too bad, decide to paint. That’s what we’ve been doing. Sort through stuff and pack it up to prevent paint splatters. Send the chair and sofa cushions to the dry cleaners. Gets them out of the way while you paint. Paint the walls, rearrange the furniture. Get rid of stuff, repair stuff, organize stuff. I do this about once every 15 years or so. Some may want to do this on a little tighter schedule.
Combine wallpapering with geometry and lessons in economics and art. Never let housework get in the way of learning! Spot removal is a lesson in chemical reactions. How does that spot remover stuff work anyway?
Clean house in the summer? Not when the pool beckons! We call the pool our large chemistry experiment. Great for repeated lessons in acids and bases and now chlorine evaporates, and why heat doesn’t always spread itself evenly.
We putter around the yard, occasionally adding a little color or removing a few weeds. Our yard is now also comfortably middle aged. Anything that can’t stand our soil, watering, or neglect has died long ago, and the survivors have multiplied and taken over.
I did just remove two file drawers I had organized alphabetically in our early days of homeschooling. when I had found something, say, about camels, I’d throw it in the “C” folder. The collection had gotten quite large. Except for going into it to find trail maps for some of our favorite hiking areas, I don’t think we went into it very much. The problem I find with file drawers is that things easily get put away in them, but they seldom leave!
When we were going back and forth to Tahoe, when my husband was working up there, we found it handy to have Scott keep all his homeschooling stuff in a large, plastic box, that also had a smaller box in it with pens and pencils and stuff. We’d just haul it along. This was before our unschooling days. The box later just held all sorts of games, current novels, and other small toys after we wised up.
In my humble opinion, each thing you add to your home to try to be more organized, only adds to the junk collection. You don’t need special things to track what math, say, your child does. Just write in a date in the table of contents when a chapter is finished! I did use the Excel tracker I have here on my site for a number of years. I found it handy because I could both plan and track right in the program, and I usually knew right where my computer was. As years went by, my compulsion to document died. I told my son, if you want to go to college, start writing down what you are reading and doing. Let them do it!
Your house is not going to look even half as clean as before your brought the kids home for homeschooling. I don’t care what idealistic homeschool writers say. A homeschool mom with too clean a house either isn’t interacting much with her children or has hired a maid, which isn’t a bad idea, by the way. If you think you don’t have time to homeschool, and think you should hire a tutor, (at $40-$80 and hour), consider hiring a housekeeper for probably around $5-$10 an hour. That way you’ll get to do all the fun stuff!
Anyway, if you’d like to make an attempt at organization, here some sites that also don’t take organizing far too seriously.
The Fly Lady
Are YOU living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) like Franny in the pink sweats? Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.
Get Organized with the Sidetracked Home Executives/Slob Sisters!
The Slob Sisters are real-life sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones. They decided to get organized one fateful day when their lives hit rock bottom.
Make it fun and get it done!
Pam Young’s (Slob Sister #1) new website and videos.
How to Organize for the Messie Person
Support for Messies who struggle to control clutter and organize for order at home and work.
Organizing help and tips to eliminate clutter and junk, organize your house, and simplify your life.
Should Kids Do Chores or Should They Play?
When homeschooling boys, it is important to remember to teach them life skills right along with the rest of their schoolwork. And since our boys are home with us all day long, it’s very easy to incorporate these real life lessons into our day. By Michelle Caskey, Homeschool Your Boys.
Ten-Step Plan to Back-to-School Bliss
At my house it means: decluttering, donating, reorganizing, cleaning, discussing, planning, purchasing, scheduling, record keeping, and (most importantly) involving my entire family in the process – and even making it fun and rewarding for us all.