Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Ready for Not-Back-to-School

Oh. My. Goodness. We are at mid-August, already! Summer is just flying by and will be gone soon (Booo!) But the end of summer doesn’t just mean that beach days and s’mores will be but a memory soon… it also means it’s time to get ready for the new Homeschool Year! As much as I love the slower pace and fun times of Summer, there is a little tiny part of me that looks forward to getting the kids back into their regular routines and activities.

One other positive thing about this time of year is that the start of the not-school year forces me to clean out and organize our Homeschool cabinet, to get ready for a new year of learning! As I mentioned in this post about containing kids’ clutter, I try my best to keep the kids’ storage areas well-organized so the kids can always find what they need. That can be a challenge, with three kids who are homeschooled and limited storage space! Here are the results of this year’s homeschool cabinet clean-up:

The top two shelves contain some science and social studies stuff. We don’t generally use any kind of formal curriculum for these subjects, but instead prefer to just provide plenty of materials and opportunities to explore and learn. In our cabinet, we have a bunch of science kits, a microscope, a box of “Earth Treasures” which we’ve collected (things like shells, dragonfly wings, a robin’s eggshell, unusual rocks, etc) various books, maps, etc. We also have two shelves of reference books in our living room, which the kids regularly pull out and peruse.

Tote bags, for each child's daily work
The next shelf is where we keep each child’s daily work. We do use a formal curriculum for Math and grammar/writing, so each child has a tote bag containing their own daily work: their Math texts, workbooks, notebooks, etc.  Ladybug is also studying Spanish, and Monkey is studying Latin, so their bags contain the materials they use for that, as well. We used to use baskets to keep their daily work in, but several years ago we borrowed the idea to use totes from a fellow homeschoolin’ mama, and it’s worked out really well for us. With the tote bags, the kids can take their work to wherever they feel like sitting, whether it’s the big comfy chair in the living room or out to the back porch.

The bottom shelf contains all of our math stuff. Over the years, we’ve collected quite a few math books, which are stored here. We cull these now and then, and get rid of anything we don’t plan on using anymore. We also have various math manipulatives (counting bears, place value blocks, scale and weights, dominoes, etc) and tools (protractors, rulers, compasses, etc) stored in labeled boxes on this shelf.

The drawers underneath contain extra papers and supplies, kits, etc.  Opposite this built-in cabinet, we have another book case (pictured in this post) which stores all of our art and craft supplies, and the kids’ computer. Although I often wish we had more space available for our homeschool stuff, being limited to this small area of our kitchen does help us to Keep it Simple, which is what we’re all about, these days! We are forced to re-evaluate frequently, to make sure the items we have are useful and relevant. This helps keep clutter at bay, and keeps the kids from being overwhelmed by “ too much stuff.”

Soon, I plan to post about managing the busy schedules that Autumn brings for a large family, without feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. But for now… I’m going to savor these last couple of weeks of Summer.

UPDATE, jANUARY 2014: After a big kitchen renovation, we have a BRAND NEW homeschool area! Check it out, here.

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