If you’re like many homeschooling families, the beginning of every new year marks the half-way point between the beginning of your school year and making it to the finish line sometime between May and August. And while the half-way point means 4-6 months of hard work for your kids and homeschooling satisfaction already under your belt, it can also mean that time has taken a toll on the organizational systems in your home, too:
No matter when your school year begins and ends, it’s never a bad idea to spend a few minutes get things re-organized for the next round. Taking just 15 minutes now to eliminate piles of papers, tidy school areas, or update household charts keeps things running smoothly for the rest of the year. Better yet, periodically cleaning up your act insures that your time will be spent on the things that are important to you — rather than wasted wading through messes instead.
Here is a list of just some of the things that homeschooling families can accomplish in 15 minutes. Choose any of the following (or any you come up with on your own) and promise yourself you’ll get it done today. Do the same thing every day for a week and you’ll really set yourself up for success! That’s because the rewards of these 15-minute checkups extend beyond today — yes, you’ll feel great about getting something done now, but the payoff continues every single day that you don’t have to deal with that particular problem in the future!
Get your homeschool in order in 15 minutes by…
1. Dealing with a paper pile — either on your desk or your student’s desk. Grade exams, file homework, discard doodles and scratch paper (a major problem in my home), sort mail, or whatever you need to do to remove unwanted paper from somewhere in your home. As an added bonus, find a way to deal with these papers in the future by setting up boxes, file folders, or a nearby trash receptacle to hande papers as they come in from now on. I recently used baskets to hold my most used discs and files and am very happy with the result:
I also couldn’t believe the change I experienced simply by placing a trash can under my desk — it fills so much faster than it ever did being on the other side of the room!
2. Checking supply levels and restock anywhere in your home that needs it. This could be a student desk in need of pencils and crayons, an artist area in need of frequently-used paint colors, a pantry in need of restocking from bulk items stored in the garage, a closet or dresser in need of a seasonal clothing swap, or anything else that could use refilling. I solved our problem recently by creating 2 well-stocked common areas where our children could grab supplies whenever they were needed (one upstairs, one downstairs):
Identify an area in your home that needs attention, then do whatever works for you.
3. Creating or revising homeschool forms, household or charts or any other standard item you use all year long. In my home, I recently implemented a 3-week rotating chore system that is working very well for us so far. But other activities in this category would include creating a form for an activity your child performs every day (reading, practicing karate or piano), revising a form that hasn’t been working well for you (a weekly or monthly planning sheet) or making photocopies of forms you use on a daily or weekly basis (to-do lists, solution sheets for mathematics, grocery lists, or pages of an entire household notebook). Also don’t forget to make sure that calendars are hung all around the home where they are visible, pages are refilled in personal planners, and electronic devices are either standardized or sync-ed in some way so that all family members are communicating and scheduling well together.
4. Starting a new system — one that you have been wanting to try for a long time. Turning over a responsibility to another member of the family, such as laundry or menu-planning, may be something you have been wanting to try for a while. Or having children check their own answers on homework papers or do their own laundry could be the new system you are putting in place this year. A word of advice — keep an eye on things at first, even operating both the old and new systems for a little while in case the family takes longer than anticipated to adjust (or the plan backfires altogether). In our home, I am presently converting from my gigantic day-planner to an electronic calendar application on my wireless device. And even though I’ll be duplicating my efforts for a little while, I plan to keep the planner going until I am confident that I know exactly what I am doing under the new system.
5. Cleaning something that needs it — like mom’s or dad’s desk, the corner of the kitchen counter where everything seems to accumulate during the day, or an area of the mud room where items always seem to land when kids enter from the back door. In my home, little helpers in the kitchen often contribute to a messy pantry storage area — one area that I feel as though I am constantly trying to conquer:
Choose an area in your home that you have been neglecting and get it ready for the next day. Even better, see if you can think of a way to keep that area a lot cleaner in the future (and if you come up with clever pantry ideas, please share them here, as well!).
6. Decluttering an area — particularly one that has been making you crazy all year. Although you might not be able to eliminate everything in the area, rehome (or discard) whatever you can, and simplify and organize the rest. If it’s the spot in the garage where children leave their shoes and toys, tackle that one. Or the place where all of your girls do hair and makeup in the bathroom is the area that creates the most problems in your home. Wherever it may be, declutter an area that seems to attract messes or cause the most hold-ups for you and the other members of your household.
7. Finding a better place for something (usually one that has no home). In my home, this includes small appliances that take up valuable space on kitchen countertops because they don’t have a place in the cupboards. It also includes children’s laundry cubes that don’t have a home at the moment because I finally renovated our laundry room. (I’ll tackle these myself this week!) In your home, it could be anything you continually find on the floors, the stairs, the workspace in the garage, or anywhere else it really doesn’t belong.
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