Our schoolroom/playroom and how we organize for the school year

Today’s post is about how I organize my schoolroom & day. I change things up every few weeks, including our schedule. Otherwise I think we all get a little burned out. Throwing out a schedule and starting over is part of the process. What worked last year may not work for us this year. Especially since I am adding a new-born into the mix. I think this is one of those things that is always a work in progress at our home.

How are you starting your day? Who is your support?

Which brings me to one of the first things I want to write about, prayer and support. I have a daily prayer partner (other than the man) that I pray with, bounce ideas off of, commiserate with, cry over the phone with…. You get my point. If I am having a rough go that morning I know that I can text her and tell her I need prayer and I’ll get it. It’s easy to get sucked into the remoteness of homeschooling where you feel alone, question your abilities, talents, and you wake up one morning and say to your husband, “Please remind me why we are doing this!” I’ve called him many times at work and said, “I’m failing, they aren’t learning, it’s too hard, I’m done…” any of this sound familiar? That’s usually where my husband and prayer partner step in and give me permission to walk away for a few days and refocus. I am one of those people who needs permission. There were several times last year where we took time off to refocus. It’s good to do that. I remember distinctly towards the end of the year how burned out I was. I was pregnant, going through morning sickness, and I was so done with the school for the year. We kept at it and finished on the goal date we had set for ourselves. In that moment I just thanked God for seeing us through. Start the morning with prayer as it sets the tone of your day. Don’t go into battle without your gear. Sometimes the man would lead us in prayer before he left, sometimes Thing 1 would lead us in prayer and sometimes I would pray with my prayer partner before starting the day. Either way, the days we skipped were the worst.

What is your plan? What does it look like?

I’m using a new planner this year that I have fallen in love with, The Well Planned Day. You must look at it! I have not only organized our school days, but my everyday in it. It has a place for weekly goals, chores, report cards, menu planning & grocery lists. It’s like this woman took a snap shop of all my lists and planner pagers from last year and placed them in one planner.

Having a plan should extend to more than just your school aged kids. If you are like me and have toddlers and newborn (soon to be)  to care for as well, you should have a daily plan for each of them. One of the things that I do with Thing 3 is rotate toys and activities with him. We do hold school in our playroom and without specific guidance from me it would get a little hairy in there. I usually start Thing 1 on independent tasks first, then start Thing 2 on a task, by that time Thing 3 is needing attention so I start him on his task. Below is an example of what Thing 2 (after school was completed) and Thing 3’s busy time looked like.

Monday- play with cars on car mats and car garages
Tuesday- build with the cardboard blocks, Legos, Duplo and Lincoln logs
Wednesday- color, play dough, puzzles, string pony beads on a pipe cleaner
Thursday- Play with Imaginext toys (they have a whole slew of these so they share and play together)
Friday- Crafts, paint with water, glue beans on paper, foam stickers on paper

This system works! You would be surprised how well it works versus just letting the toddlers run around in the playroom. Somewhere in there I sneak a snack time in and then it’s lunch time. That is my goal. Keep them busy until lunch. From there I have nap time as my saving grace to work on the hard subjects with the other two. Don’t be afraid to let the oldest stay up a little later to work on math or whatever that harder subject is. You homeschool so you can control all the schedules. You know that country song about the mom being the keeper of the Cheerios… we are also the keeper of the schedules. It’s totally ok for them to stay up an hour later to get that one on one with you that they need.

Organization

I love organization. Without it, I would fail miserably at all of this. I’ll start with the book shelves in our playroom. Each shelf is organized by reading level. Each child knows which shelf is theirs. I’ve done this since Thing 2 came along. It keeps each child accountable for the neatness of their shelf, they know where their books are and each one can easily get to them. If you have science magazines or you are a classical homeschooler and rely heavily on books to teach, try using magazine holders to separate subjects and topics to keep you and your child focused. 

At the beginning of the summer, we spent a little less than $100 to organize this game closet in our playroom. Is it worth it, YES. Having everything organized and having a place for everything saves my sanity and time. These shelving units came from Ikea, but I’m sure you could find something similar at The Container Store or Lowe’s. I have all of my school, craft, sewing and office stuff stored in them.

These containers purchased at Target hold all of our phonics cards, flash cards, alphabet cards & some extra craft items that I like to keep put up away from the Things. Mainly, finger paint! They are literally sitting on the Ikea shelving units.

As for organizing the school work itself I put each child’s curriculum on a separate shelf. In our state, I have to keep copies of all their work so each subject has a completed folder that it goes into and is filed by date. I didn’t bother tearing out the entire year’s worth of worksheets last year. I would do a week at a time and use my weekly work box to store them in for the Things.

Work for the week is organized by day in this unit I got from The Learning Store for about $5. We don’t have school on Fridays because I grocery shop that day, but we have a Do By Friday folder in case there is work that isn’t completed by Friday. This is like their homework folder.

Organizing Classical Conversations

I haven’t purchased the rest of our school supplies yet because we aren’t starting until August, but I can share my plans. Since we have decks of memorization cards I plan to buy a binder (5 1/2 x 8 1/2) with sheet protectors to place the cards in. Here is an example: Binder and sheet protectors

I am purchasing all the memory work (organized by week in a bin) plus a board to help me review and reinforce what we learn in co-op this year. Here is an example of what it will look like as well as directions on how to make one yourself.

Have a cd player in your schoolroom ready to play the Cycle 1 Audio songs.

CC Resources:

I’ll leave you with a list of blogs that pertain specifically to CC. I have found the Half a Hundred Acre Wood most helpful. She also has a free daily planner you can print out that follows the CC Foundations schedule.

http://theadventuresofbear.blogspot.com

www.wisdomandrighteousness.com

http://greatday2learn.blogspot.com/2012/04/classical-conversations-cycle-1_26.html?utm_source=BP_recent

http://www.thecorkums.com/

http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/

http://theten0clockscholar.blogspot.com/2009/09/classical-conversations-cycle-1-history.html

 I know I didn’t touch on chores and how to keep your other job going – the house. I’ll write a separate post about that next week. Happy organizing!
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2 thoughts on “Our schoolroom/playroom and how we organize for the school year

  1. Love it! Thank you for taking the time to write this! And I agree – having a specific activity planned for the little ones is so much better than just letting them do their own thing. I had PLENTY of days where I said, “that’s it, I’m done. I’m sending them to public school.” But at the end of the year I was SO glad we stuck it out. Now I’m REALLY wanting to do it again next year – still waiting for my husband to make the final decision about that though. And I need to hear more about CC – to be honest it sounds kind of boring to me, and I’m not big on sitting them down at the table all day. But maybe that’s not what it’s like. What made it appealing to you?

    • I talked to so many moms who were doing this before we signed on. Paul and I disagreed about the whole thing in the beginning. He had no interest in moving the curriculum this direction. What changed his mind and what blew us away was watching these kids recite what they had learned. This video in particular left Paul with his mouth hanging wide open in awe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTiilEAumNE We also liked this one because it showed even the littles know this stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fidCKpFQ85k It’s 24 weeks of worth memorization. We are doing the weekly co-op (1 day a week from 9am-12pm). Paul and I took the kids to one and we split up to watch Bella in her class and J in his- I was amazed. They learned the first 5 bill of rights, a Bible verse in Latin, a math equation and places on a map in one class. I mean they actually had it memorized. You should only have to re-inforce it the remainder of the week if you join a co-op (which we decided to attend for many many reasons). If you choose to do it at home without a co-op, then just dedicate one day to memory work. It seems more boring than it actually is. After going to a co-op Bella wanted to know how those kids knew so much and she didn’t… that was ultimately the reason we chose it. She didn’t memorizing/retain anything close to this through our other science and history curriculum last year. If they only did one year they would be lightyears ahead of where they are now. I’m happy to chat with you on the phone and share more if you have questions. It took us weeks of research and going to the classes and talking with other moms to understand it all and change our mindset about homeschooling in general because we were traditional homeschoolers.. now I am on board and like the mix that I landed with for next year.

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