Regardless of your method, curriculum, or reasons for homeschooling, here are a few affordable (and free!) products that have not only brought ease but also elevated our homeschool experience. None of these recommendations are sponsored; I do not receive a commission for you clicking on any of the links below. What is posted is only a reflection of what has been helpful for us. So, as with any CVG post, use only what works for and applies to you and your family.
Organization & Planning.
For those of us living in states with highly regulated homeschool laws, staying organized is a must. That being said… as a career educator of twenty years I have found that being organized, to whatever extent we can and regardless of where we live, is in the best interest of any parent. This is not about the aspirational perfection that floods the internet. After all, our resources, values, needs, and lives are all very different, and aspiration for aspiration’s sake is an empty and maddening pursuit. For me, organizing and planning simply means creating a trajectory of educational success (as I define it) for my child while minimizing my own stress level so that I can remain present to her needs in the process.
Lara Casey’s Cultivated Homeschool Planner. This is a FREE printable resource, and it is truly priceless. https://laracasey.com/2018/10/01/free-download-homeschool-planner/ Before I began homeschooling, I stumbled upon it and slowly spent a month developing our mission, values, and goals for the remainder of the school year. The monthly pages are pure gold. The intention is not to go down a detailed mommy bragging hole, but only to say with sincerity out of my passion for the product’s value that:
Emily Ley At-a-Glance Weekly Planner. The reasonably priced large weekly planner, which can be purchased at Target and Office Depot for under $40, has been great for keeping track of what we do each day, and my child’s attendance. I don’t have to write a novel, but using coded symbols I know exactly what my child has done each day, and I am able to make notes about how the day went. Living in a highly regulated state, my plan is to start record-keeping now, so that it is a habit from the beginning of our journey. In addition to saving papers and schoolwork, it is easy to have these planners stored away at the end of each academic year, for easy reference as needed.
Desktop File Folder (FREE) and Spreadsheet software (FREE if on your computer): As I download free and purchased printable materials, I sort them into sub-folders by season, subject, unit etc. Like cleaning out one’s email box, I do this periodically a few minutes at a time, so it doesn’t build up and get overwhelming. 15-30 minutes once a month seems to do the trick. My spreadsheet helps me keep track of what I have, and I can use it for easy reference. In the case of materials that are appropriate for older children, I make a note of that as well, so I can take advantage of them at a later time. A parent with children of different ages may find it useful to add an additional level of folders to sort printables by approximate age and development level. Now that I’ve built up quite a collection of things that are appropriate for my child for the next 2-3 years, I’m slowing down on my downloading. It is easy to go down a rabbit hole with this stuff, so I need a little digital minimalism in this new frontier.
Setting up a separate email address for our school. After joining many wonderful mailing lists, I decided it would be best to set up a separate email address. No regrets; this streamlines things a great deal.
Plastic bin for daily homeschool routine. Gives the little one a framework but enables her to pick the order of most of the activities. What doesn’t get used may get left in for the following day’s bin.
Washi Tape & Index Cards. I post a brief hello message as well as the date on the front of the daily homeschool bin. It includes the day of the week, month and date, as a way of gradually instilling the concept of days to my child. We read it in the beginning part of our home school.
Iris Self-Stacking Plastic Filing Cabinets. Self-explanatory. Why do I think there will be a wall full of these in our future... :-)
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