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Homeschooling Organization 101

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Homeschooling Organization 101

by Jeanne Mifflin

Autism Asperger’s Digest  Online Article September 2012


Getting organized for homeschooling can be a daunting task. There are workbooks to organize, activities to print off, supplies to gather and stock, and many more tasks.

Starting out organized and then maintaining that organization is the key to success in homeschooling. When you are thinking about homeschooling organization, you will need to organize your materials and your homeschool environment. Use the checklist below to ensure that you have everything in order before class begins.

Organizing the Homeschool Environment

It is a good idea to have your home in order before starting homeschooling. As Maria Montessori notes, working around a clean, beautiful environment can help a child feel more organized and learn more in turn.

First, get your house in order so you can be free to homeschool without worry.

Here is a checklist to help with that:

> Assign all chores using a chore chart and reward system. Go to www.handipoints.com for chore charts.

> Set up a laundry schedule. Let the kids earn their TV and video game time by carrying the basket, loading, transferring to dryer, and hanging up clothes. Folding has always been a little trickier for us. The kids tend to do best with hanging up shirts.

School and Office Furniture Requirements

> Make sure you have a full-sized kitchen table for students to work on so that you can sit next to them for one-on-one teaching. This will also allow you to open workbooks for each subject to the appropriate page and leave them open (with instructions if appropriate) for them to begin on their own each morning.

> Two chairs for the table, one chair for the computer area, and one chair for your desk (if you have one)

> Good lighting that is not placed directly on the student’s work area. We use a floor lamp that also has a table lighting arm. Typically, the overhead lighting is not enough for daily intensive use.

> At least one large bookshelf

> CD player (www.k12.com curriculum provides audio CDs to accompany some literature lessons)

> Globe

> Classroom clock to replicate the school environment

> A few large balloons to bounce back and forth during quick stretching breaks. One game we play is hitting the balloon until it hits the ground. This signals that the break is over.

> Movie screen and projector or TV (optional—great for travel DVDs for social studies and science and math DVDs)

Organizing Homeschool Materials

There are many types of materials you will need to make sure that homeschooling is a success. You have to think about curriculum, legal requirements for homeschooling in your state/county, and school supplies.

Follow these steps to manage this process:

Legal Requirements & Curriculum Purchase

> Contact your local Board of Education and have any pertinent forms mailed to you. Typically, this would be a Letter of Intent and monthly reporting forms if you are a homeschooling family.

> If you are using a prepared curriculum, purchase it well in advance to ensure delivery several weeks before school starts.

Educational Materials

> Order a curriculum for the full year. Keep lists of what supplemental materials need to be ordered from the library or purchased in advance.

> Sort all toys, games, books, and other materials into upcoming thematic units that correlate to the upcoming curriculum.

> Make sure that all thematic materials have been boxed and organized for handy retrieval. The easiest way to organize the upcoming materials is to use them as a display. For example, if you’re studying biomes, you can mount crates on the wall to store thematic items.

> Find old textbooks at a thrift shop that you can use to cut out pictures to decorate posters, etc. Try to stock up on stickers to use for self-checking.

> Keep educational psychology and other teacher reference books on hand. Try to identify exactly what the student seems to be having trouble understanding and focus on just that issue to see if you can get him back on track.

> Study catalogs from teacher stores to get ideas for teaching games and activities.

> Make permanent display areas for science and math. Use three-drawer trays for math games and exercises. Use large plastic boxes that fit the size of your bookcase so they can serve as transparent baskets that can be slid in and out. Stand books and magazines on end with an appropriate subject photo facing out so you can see it through the plastic box.

> Put together a notebook of every concept (preferably in each subject) that the student will be learning in math this year for target teaching before the appropriate lesson and quick review later. This should be as engaging as possible. Again, use pictures from thrift store books taped or glued to white paper (on which you have printed the appropriate information) and place it in a sheet protector. Adjust as needed throughout the year.

First Day of Homeschool Goody Bag

> Fill a “goody bag” with school items, candy, etc., that the student enjoys.

School and Office Supplies

> Buy lots of notebook paper or other daily-use paper, spiral-bound notebooks, composition notebooks, computer paper, and construction paper.

> Have several extra ink cartridges.

> Stock up on crayons, markers, pencils, pens, colored pencils, and colored pens.

> Buy a quality pencil sharpener. I never went past a $20 pencil sharpener, but they all seemed to get destroyed with use. Handheld pencil sharpeners were impractical for the most part and broke very easily (sometimes accompanied by quite a mess).

> Buy several pairs of scissors (having a few decorative pairs is a nice touch for posters and special projects), a stapler, staple remover, three-hole punch.

> If needed, have a child’s calculator on hand for math.

> Be sure that you have a ruler, yardstick, tape measure, measuring cups, measuring spoons, scale, thermometer.

> Dry-erase board for scheduling or teaching purposes. I prefer a wall-mounted board that both you and the student can write on. Don’t forget dry-erase markers in several different colors.

> Have lots of reference books in the homeschool area. These should be an age-appropriate dictionary and thesaurus as well as reference books for science, geography, social studies, math, and English, etc.

Following the steps on this checklist will get you started with homeschool organization. Once you’ve got homeschool underway, you will be able to modify this list to suit your own children’s needs. Remember to do a bit of organization every day and plan ahead for days and weeks to come. As with most of parenting, an ounce of preparation will produce a heap of good results!



Jeanne Mifflin began homeschooling to help her son who has autism develop self-reliance and self-control. He learned at an accelerated rate and now successfully attends public middle school at grade level. Jeanne is the author of Achieving Brilliance at Home: How to Teach Your Child Almost Anything, which is available on Amazon. Visit her website at www.JeanneMifflin.com.


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  1. Karen says:

    The supply list is especially helpful. Our pencil sharpener is still being used… by my now college-aged daughter! As I taught my children (and teach my students), having all supplies at hand is one way to eliminate distractions. Great article!

  2. Great article! Good tips and advice on beginning your homeschooling journey. While I wasn’t as structured as is recommended above I have graduated one child from home to college, a second one is graduating this year and I have one left to homeschool. I’m a firm believer in the freedom and opportunities that homeschooling brings into our children’s lives. Proof is evident even more so with children of special needs due to the love and care the kids receive in a one on one environment. Hope many people read the article and leave wondering why they aren’t homeschooling!
    -Nancy Robbins http://www.hopefamilies.com