1. Art Supplies – I believe in making the art supplies available to the kids if they can use them appropriately – which means without undue mess and the ability (and desire) to clean up! Things like textas, paint, glitter and scissors were items that were given with a sense of responsibility with a firm reminder of not letting the younger ones use them as well! We kept our supplies in plastic boxes – all painting supplies together including aprons, all rubber stamping gear together, all collage stuff together, all notebooking supplies together. This way the kids could get a box from the cupboard/shelf and be responsible for the supplies.
2. Notebooking Paper – the cheapest way to buy coloured paper is in reams of 500 pieces, but that much paper soon becomes tatty . To keep a selection of coloured paper (much more inspiring than always having white paper) I use a presentation binder with 10 sheets of each colour. This not only makes our notebooking supplies mobile, it keeps it organised. When one colour is used up I simply top it up so the kids always have access to a little amount of paper, but many colours.
3. Kids desk – We have used a small dining table for our kids desks. This desk gets used for all sorts of things throughout the week – study, craft, Lego, board games, friends afternoon tea. So our desks have had to be flexible. Each of my kids have had an organiser or tray on their desk (as they have grown older they all have liked different things)this keeps their diary or other check lists, their pencils, current book, and other things they access throughout the day readily available. The rest of their supplies – math, handwriting, writing/phonics, etc – live in a file box under the desk. When they were little this box served as a block to rest their feet on as well. When the desk needs to be cleared both the box and the tray from on top get quickly removed to the bedroom and we have a clear surface to enjoy.
4. Library books – Our library is very generous to homeschoolers and lets each member borrow 10 books for a month. This means we could potentially have 60 borrowed books in our house at any time. We don’t often borrow this many but there have been times that we have. I found a little nook in our lounge room for a small bookcase and gave each person a shelf. This shelf was for library books, and whatever other book you were currently reading. These days the kids keep their current book beside their bed or at their desk, but this system helped when they were young. We also have a return to the library box where books are placed when they are done so they are ready to return when we go to town.
5. Finished work – Depending on what it was: if it was 3d project, we found a place to display for a short time, took a photo and let the project go. If it was a painting we would keep some and give or throw others away. If it was a lapbook we kept all our lapbooks in a magazine box, in the bookshelves so the kids could have easy access to them and enjoy them over and over. If they were notebooking – or pieces of paper – we would file them in a binder. We had four binders for each student: God’s Word, God’s World, Character, Interest. Now days, with older students, most of their work is done on the computer and they are simply filing their work. I’m working towards a digital portfolio for my two students now – but that is another story.
6. Books – We have so many books; probably too many! I’m not sure of any better system than a bookcase to store books! We have organised ours into history, science, Bible study, picture books (with a section especially for Five in a Row and other favourites), early chapter, and chapter books. Our chapter books are also divided into Science, History, Classics, Biographies, fiction.
7. Computer files – Learning to maintain and use a filing system on the computer is one of the basic computer literacy skills our kids need. Each of our children have a file on the computer where they then create their own filing system (initially with direction from me). They have a folder for each subject they study and each interest/hobby they have. Initially they were filing in year folders as well, but really that is doubling up as the computer takes note of the date the document was created. My children also understand the filing system for photos on the computer so they can both offload their own cameras and/or find a photo they want to use.
8. Lesson Plans and notes to self – Planning is one thing that can get out of control where I have bits of paper and ideas all over the place. I have used two system – a ring-binder, and the computer (I have used just Word documents or currently use OneNote). Both systems have the same organisational tabs:
- General goals and objectives
- Subject resources – this is where I collect ideas, I photocopy book covers, adverts that inspire, or website review etc. I basically create my own resource magazine. This could be done on Pinterest these days.
- Plans – this is where I start to pull it together and make/record decisions. Eventually this is the section I refer to throughout the term as my teaching guide.
- Routine – As I start to build a routine for the year (or term – as our routine changes throughout the year) I also keep notes of why I make certain decisions. I also make notes of tweaks I may have to make in the future so that my thinking is recorded.
- Reports – I don’t have to record for our registration purposes, but I like to keep a place to record the things I want to record.
9. My teaching resources – There have been times where I have had a heavy ‘teaching’ load, and other times, like now, where I teach very little. One of the frustrating things though is to lose a resource from one lesson to the next, especially when it is a weekly lesson! So I have my homeschool bookshelf which is for current resources only. The shelf is filled with magazine boxes, labelled for each subject. This way, not only do I have a place for the resources necessary for each lesson, I can take the box with me to wherever I want to teach.
10. Games and Toys – When my kids were little I grouped their toys into play-sets and each set was in a box. The kids played with one box at a time, helping them to focus their imaginations and it also helped with the packing up. These days their hobby supplies are organised much the same way. I have found though that games in a cupboard (board games and the like) often get forgotten, so we keep our favourites on a bookshelf and at times even on the coffee table. A game sitting out of the cupboard calls for our attention a lot louder than in a cupboard and we are more likely to sit down and play.