When we started our first year of Charlotte Mason homeschool, I knew there would be a learning curve. I didn’t expect to be able to figure out everything before we even started our year. After we decided on a curriculum and ordered books, I printed a bunch of material for each subject. I thought this would be sufficient and decided that for the first week I would “roll with it” and see how it went. Well… I quickly realized that this approach would be stressful. I desperately needed a way of organizing our Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum and quick!
Since I had just purchased a lot of books, I knew my solution needed to be free. So I put on my “creativity cap” and had a look around my house for potential solutions. I realized that I had a lot of separate lesson packets and keeping up with them was like hunting for a needle in the haystack. I needed a way to organize all those papers.
Organizing My Homeschool Notebook
On my quest, I realized that a binder would probably fit the bill. So I hunted down and repurposed an old 3-ring binder in good condition (seriously, this binder is 15 years old!). I gathered together all my printed material from the Alveary curriculum, found my trusty 3-hole punch, and went to work.
The next thing I needed was a way to separate the material so I wasn’t constantly flipping pages. I realized the colored sheets and cardstock pages I had just cleaned out of the binder would make good dividers. Next, I hunted paper clips that I could place on individual pages to help me find our lesson more quickly. Later I added some tabbed dividers that I found to make organizing the sections even easier.
For the pages that we take in and out regularly, like recitation and copywork, I created Google documents, printed them, and placed them in protective sleeves. Each week I also print out the curriculum guide, which I staple and keep in the front of the folder for easy reference. I’m sure I’ll find ways to improve my system in the future, but this is working for us. No, I’m not wasting time looking through piles of printouts, looking for the geography or Spanish curriculum for the day. I’m amazed at how this simple binder system makes organizing our homeschool much easier.
Organizing Our Homeschool Space
In addition to my notebook, I also needed to organize a space for our lessons. We did kindergarten at the kitchen table, but I wanted to move away from that because our kitchen and dining room space would get too cluttered. So we moved our school room to the playroom/den downstairs.
When we began the term, I still had lots of excess stuff in our downstairs playroom. It was a mix of items to donate/consign, hand-me-down clothes, and stuff I didn’t want upstairs. But all this clutter didn’t create a good environment. I realized I needed to deal with this stuff. So, I made some time on a weekend to sort the stuff into donate and consign piles and took care of sending them to their proper place. Much better!
In addition, we needed a table to do our work. While I would love to have a nice wooden table for our school room, I didn’t want to buy one. We have a card table that we use when we host large groups of students, so I set it up as our school table. It’s not beautiful, but it’s functional and something we already had.
Organizing Our Homeschool Books and Supplies
Once I realized how many books we would be using every week, I knew we needed a dedicated place to store them. We had a bookshelf that we weren’t using for books, so I cleared the clutter and miscellaneous items off the top shelf and organized our books and notebooks for the year. What a difference a shelf makes!
A Charlotte Mason homeschool involves more than just books. We have quite a few handicraft and art supplies. So, I cleaned off the second shelf and organized those supplies in a box and unused basket I found while cleaning out our bedroom. There are a few things I didn’t put on the shelf because I still have a 2-year-old at home, like the big bag of stuffing for our sewing projects. I can only imagine the mess…
The third shelf has a basket with other miscellaneous crafting supplies, activities, and larger items. I still have space on the bottom shelf for more books and supplies. The decision to organize this shelf for our homeschool made such a difference! The room feels much more open, and it creates a better environment for learning.
Organizing My Planning
As I am getting more comfortable with our homeschool routine, I am finding ways to make the days flow more smoothly. Each evening I go through the schedule for the next day. I read the preparation materials and plan the math lesson. In addition, I also gather the books and materials we will use for the next day so that I don’t waste time running around looking for things. I also plan the subjects that require using the computer to follow each other.
I’ll be the first to admit that this system is a work in progress. I’m sure some of you have much more sophisticated systems in place. But for our school, these simple changes helped organize my chaos. I would love to hear what kinds of systems you have in place to organize your homeschool. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook or email me at hello @ amblesidetales.com.