Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ten Tasks to Prepare for the New Homeschool Year


Day One

Open the boxes of curriculum the UPS man delivered. Do I have to mention that they had been sitting next to the front closet for two months?

Sort the new materials into grades. Piles are then left on the sewing table. At our house, that’s progress!

Talk it up. As I bubble enthusiastically over the opening and sorting, the children wander over and thumb through the books.


Clean out. The children clear out materials from the prior year. Ideally, this would have happened at the end of the last school year, but we’re usually so eager to be done with the formal bookwork for a while that we close the cubby doors and call it summer break. They also dust out the cubbies.

Pack away last year’s materials. I put each child’s papers in labeled folders and pack them into the boxes I just unloaded. I label the boxes with the child’s name and school year, and the Mr. totes them up to the attic when the weather gets a bit cooler. (My over-active imagination can just see him fainting from heat exhaustion while he’s up in the 120+ degree attic trying to store boxes away for me, tumbling out and falling right onto me as a cushion on the garage floor.)

Move recycled materials from one child to the next. We re-use much of our curriculum, so recycled materials get moved to the next child’s cubby. The oldest child’s materials that need to get put on a shelf until next year get piled on the den sofa until tomorrow.

Day Two

Shelve unnecessary materials and retrieve needed materials. Since our two oldest are two grades apart, the curriculum the oldest used the past year gets put on a shelf until the next child needs it in another year. It’s really just a swap, because curriculum unused last year by the oldest but needed this year for the second oldest comes off the shelf and organized in a cubby. (Hope that makes sense! J)

Organize the new materials by subject and insert into binders. I use three ring binders to organize lesson plans, quizzes, tests, and answer keys. A couple of years ago, I found several shelves of them on an after-season sale at Wal-Mart for $1 each. I felt silly at the time, but we bought twenty because we knew we would use them in the future. Now I just retrieve the necessary amount from the garage. I like the “view” binders, the ones with the plastic sleeve on the front. I make a color copy of the cover of the textbook for the cover of the binder and make a label with text the same color as the textbook cover for the binding sleeve. I hole-punch the booklets with an industrial three-hole punch, but I still remove the binding if it is so thick that it won’t fit in the punch. Inside the binder, I put the booklet cover in a sheet protector to act as a divider. I love books and keeping them pristine, so to tear answer keys and lesson plans out of the binding creates much anxiety for me. But I try to stay focused on the end result, which is consolidation and protection in binders. (The fact that I love binders makes it easier, since I'm a school supply geek at heart.)

The spiral binding just slides out.

Cutting off the fringe and hole-punching.

The finished product.

Days Three, Four, Five . . . .

Highlight the required parts of each lesson. Some subjects are more routine and thus more automatic in the highlighting than others. Some things we leave out or do differently from the suggested lesson plans, so those parts don’t get highlighted at all.  

Pray. In my few-and-far-between undistracted moments, I pray for the children and their use of the curriculum in the coming year.









How do you prepare for your school year? Are you done and ready?





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14 comments:

  1. I need all the help I can get :) I am starting homeschool with my almost-5 year old son this year. I'm excited but at the same time overwhelmed.

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    1. You'll do a terrific job, Crystal! Just relax and have fun learning letters and numbers. If he's not yet five, you have plenty of time to cover the kindergarten basics. Praying for blessings on your homeschool.... :)

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    2. Love how super organised you are. God Speed

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    3. Thanks for stopping by -- hope to see you again!

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  2. Never bought a boxed curriculum that needs set-up, but great tips! I like your day 1, day 2, etc explanations. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So many distractions come along in a day that I can't keep a single focus on getting everything ready all at once! Just like so many other things in life. *sigh* Thanks for stopping by, Thaleia.

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  3. I love the fact that piles are left on the sewing table. Have you been to our house? LOL
    I am homeschooling our daughter who is now in grade 9 for the second year. The first was really hard, but we both learned a lot and now I am really looking forward to starting up again. :)

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    1. Piles everywhere, Sherri, especially during preparations for the school year. So glad you're continuing with homeschooling! I admire your determination. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Meghan,
    I love your idea about transferring your materials into binders. I found out recently that Staples will cut off the binding of a paperback book for you for a very nominal charge. They'll also punch holes in it so you can put it in a ring binder, but that charge was pricey. I recently "chopped" a book I plan to use as a guide to lead a prayer retreat, and it was SOOOO much easier to use in a ring binder. I included a devotion in my book for homeschooling moms about how a little bit of planning goes a long way toward making our homeschool days run smoother, and I'm glad you see you've already figured it out. So glad I visited from Be Not Weary today :)

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    1. It's a little nerve-wracking in the process, Lori, but I'm always glad I've done it in the end. You're right -- it works for so many other materials as well. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment!

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    2. Ive always wondered what other homeschool moms put in their mysterious binders :) never used binders before but ive always thought these other moms sounded so smart and organized!! :D

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    3. I don't know about the smart and organized part, but thanks for the compliment! :) I just love school supplies! So glad you stopped by!

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    4. I always have Staples chop and punch my stuff. The punching charge is a penny per sheet of paper, not front and back page numbers. I always thought that was very reasonable?

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    5. I had never thought of having someplace like Staples hole-punch, but I might have to look into it. In the past, I have also had the children do it for me. :) Thanks for the info!

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