Wednesday, August 12

Homeschool Planning - School Rooms, Charts & Field Trips

Homeschooling is a big job!  If you're trying to be mom, wife, housekeeper, chauffeur, and're going to tucker out quickly.  Remember to enlist the troops and schedule in some fun days!
A Place for Books
The number one thing you can do to get your year off on the right foot is to GET ORGANIZED!  This includes having everything printed and ready to go (if you're not using pre-printed curriculum)Go here for a great discount on printing!

Through the years, we've tried various forms of organization, but these are the things that work the best for us, in our home.  We do not have a separate school room, but choose to learn at the dining room table.  When necessitated, one of the boys will take his reading to another room while I work with the other at the table.

This does not include the three bookshelves we have around the house (one for read-alouds, one for supplemental materials, and one for fun books).  This shelf is just for curriculum that is currently in use.  We took the shelf part of our dining room storage cabinet and turned it into daily curriculum storage.  

Each boy has his own section of the shelf, and curriculum that is being used by both goes in the center.  Also, within the row of books are index card boxes that hold game pieces and flash cards.  As we often reuse the three-ring binders, they get new stickers each year showing what materials are inside.  These are simply sticky envelope labels that we've written on.

A Place for The Little Stuff
Pencils, pens, rulers, scissors, glue, tape, crayons, colored pencils,'s all itty bitty and easy to get misplaced.  I found this Pampered Chef tool-turnabout for a dollar last year at a garage sale, and it has been entirely worth what it cost!  The boys know where to find writing utensils, and where to put them back at the end of the day, and it's easy for me to just take out the ones that don't work and refill as needed.  No more finding pens and pencils all over the house.  A simple desk organizer would work well, too.

Desktop Access
Call me what you will, but I don't believe in giving the kids their own technological devices.  In an age where kindergartners have cell phones and babies play on tablets...well, I just think it's all gotten a bit out of hand.  We have one desktop computer.  It's in the dining room and open for anyone to see what's on the screen.  Everyone has to share the same computer.  I very 1990 of me.  All of our computer files, games, materials, etc are at this desk - making it easy to find something, because it's going to be somewhere right there.

School Responsibility Charts
One way to keep your homeschool running smoothly is to assign age-appropriate chores.  Responsibility charts are also a good way to teach kids to keep up with their school assignments.

We've been using these for several years now, but periodically update them to reflect changes in interest and age level.  All of our charts are available FREE in the Subscriber's Library tab.
Chore Responsibility Charts / Allowance
I can remember, as a kid, getting to stick little stars next to my chores each evening after completing them.  It was so gratifying to see those little rows of stars going all the way across!  While we don't use that kind of chart, we do use a base allowance system, with additional opportunities for earnings.

See - I figure that school is their job.  And just like we'd expect to be paid for doing a good job, I want them to learn that a job well done gets earnings, while a job that is not done well does not get earnings.  (Whether that still holds true in today's society is a different argument.)  They have a base set of chores, which earns them a base weekly allowance.  Their pay can be docked, if chores aren't completed properly.  Allowance is paid in Mom Bucks.

In addition, just like we could choose to pick up a side job, they have the opportunity to help out around the house for extra money - particularly when trying to earn one of those big Lego sets.  What they haven't figured out yet (so don't tell them!) is that by volunteering to do something, they get a little extra.  I want them to learn to look around and notice what needs to be done...

Field Trips
A big part of our school year is the field trips.  Generally, we will study a topic ahead of time and then take the field trip - this helps them to fully understand the hands-on experiences.  The kids have been to nearly every state, and experienced a wide range of of historical, scientific, and cultural activities that they wouldn't have been able to do solely in our home state.  Not every family is able to road school, but that doesn't mean that field trips shouldn't be a part of your school.

Here are some FREE, local field trip options:
  • Local historic architecture
  • Air Shows
  • Historic Re-enactments
  • Climb Rocks
  • Historic Museums (some are free)
  • Pick-Your-Own Farm Visit
  • Rivers & Lakes
  • Zoo (only free on certain days, or with a pass)
  • Local Newspaper
  • Factory Tours (some are free)
  • Visit the Beach
  • Visit the local Airport
Find your local field trip options through this app from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Finally, though these aren't free, educational subscription boxes are a great way to bring the field trip into your home.  Here are some of our favorites!


  1. I was the same way with charts as a kid, and making them for my kiddos is one of the things left on my to-do list for starting this year. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what to include and where to put them when they are done.

  2. Using charts is a great way to keep track of things. My kids love being able to check things off as completed.

  3. Using charts help keep me organized!
    Thanks for sharing with us!


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