Kirby’s Kids: Choosing, Buying, and Organizing Your Homeschool

OK, So this is the third part of this little series that I’ve been working on. If you missed the first two you can check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. If you’ve been following along I know you are ready for this part.

This part can be extremely overwhelming but very exciting at the same time. It also requires a bit of control if you are like me. I tend to see so many things I like I often go overboard and end up with an abundance of supplies and resources that we can’t use.

Researching and Buying Homeschool Supplies

This can be so overwhelming but if you’ve done your homework from the previous post then that will help out a lot.When you really know what your child likes and how they learn it can make the world of difference when choosing the curriculum. You also want to consider your teaching style before selecting the curriculum.

Think about your priorities. Does your child need more help with math or reading or maybe they have special needs and you should focus on motor skills? Keep these things in mind when making your decision. Also as you compare jot down what you like and dislike about particular options. This will help to narrow down the choices.

Do you want everything ready to go and laid for you? Do you want to find your projects and unit studies to work on and incorporate into your school plan? Do you want it online or hands on? Note: If you don’t have great internet service you may want to try to have more offline work.

Also think about time. If you have multiple children or if you work from home you probably won’t have time to teach a full boxed curriculum with eight subjects. You may be better off using a mixture of online and boxed.

Before making any purchases I would double check with your notes about your state requirements to be sure that you will meet them with the choice you’ve made. Also check out as many free resources as you can and ask questions about the curriculum. This is when a good support group comes in handy as they can give you the pros and cons of different programs.

Most of that dealt with curriculum choices but you will also need some basic homeschool supplies. I have a list of our favorite supplies (and a FREE printable) in this post here but what you need will depend on who and what you are teaching as well as where and how you will be teaching. For instance if you are doing the majority of your work from textbooks you may not need a computer or internet service as you may be able to use a friend’s computer or go to the library. If your curriculum is based online you will need to make sure you have a good working computer, at home, that can be used by your child/children for multiple hours a day. Many online curriculum play videos and/or games so you need to be sure that the computer and internet are up to handling this. If your work is mostly offline then you may not need a lot more than a healthy supply of pencils, notebooks, and possibly a library card.

Do a little a research and make some notes. Be sure to make a couple of separate columns for Needs and Wants. Work on getting those must have items first and then you can get the things you want as time goes on. I have often found that as time goes on I don’t really want those ‘want’ items anymore.

And always consider that budget I mentioned in the first post! More expensive doesn’t always mean better! Make sure to put your needs before your wants when deciding what to buy. Take your time and look through them, pray about it, and go somewhere where you can physically touch and look through the program whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to choose the wrong thing because you can always change if something isn’t working. This is a learning process for everyone.

Setting Up a System for Organizing the Supplies

Now that you’ve decided on what curriculum you’d like to use you need to think about a way to organize everything. You’ll need a way to organize the curriculum, books, supplies, school work, and other resources.

There are many different ways to organize your homeschool. We currently use crates or baskets to keep each child’s workbooks, notebooks, and work in. I found the baskets at Dollar Tree last year. They are a little bit flimsy but they do the job for now.

We also have a couple of book shelves for books and extra resources. Then we have a couple of cabinets that hold arts and crafts plus a slew of supplies and miscellaneous hands on resources. I have thrown in a couple of affiliate links to products similar to what we use in our own home.

Take a look around the area you have chosen for your homeschool and think about how you want it to function. If you have money in your budget to get a small bookshelf, like this one here ,to store things then grab one. Maybe a rolling storage cart with drawers, like this one here or here, would be better suited for your situation. It could be pulled out as you need it and then put away when you don’t need it.

We didn’t start out with a lot of stuff but it has accumulated over time. The same can be said for our storage units, we have added to them as time went on and our needs changed. Just use what you have for now. If you have a couple of kitchen cabinets or a china cabinet that isn’t being used you can clear out a space to store materials there. That way it is easy to get to and can be stored out of sight. As you work through the year you can jot down notes on what items you would like to get.

Finding a Planner or System for Your Homeschool

So you’ve decided what to buy and how to store it now you need a system to keep yourself organized and to keep up with lessons and completed work. As far as keeping up with their school work this will depend on your states requirements. Some states require that you keep a portfolio of each child’s work. Do some research and jot down some notes on what needs to be included in the portfolio.

We keep a binder with samples of their work as the year goes along. I personally like to have something that I can physically touch and pull out just in case I’m ever asked for proof. Just be warned that this does take up a lot of space especially when you have multiple children. Others may only scan the work into the computer but I would recommend making a back up copy if this is how you choose to store their portfolios.

You can have a designated spot for the kid’s to put their completed work for you to check. For a long time did use a file sorter with their name’s on it… it was color coded too which helped a lot. Color coding works well if you have multiple children as you can assign a different color/pattern to each child. If you give Child 1 blue and then Child 2 green you will automatically know who left their basket out when you see the green basket on the table.

You may also want a planner for yourself. You can jot down lesson plans and reminders for each quarter. I try to remember to pull out work samples every quarter and put them in the binder so it isn’t so much paperwork piling up. There are a variety of planners available online. You can also find many FREE planners that you can download and print or some that are customizable.

If you prefer to use an online planner you can find ones like the Homeschool Managers. You can use this system to keep track of lessons for multiple children, time and attendance, reading logs, grade tracking, transcripts, and report cards. Everything is printable as well which makes it so simple to add to the portfolios. I love to print out the weekly lesson plans for the kids to use as a guideline. They also offer a FREE trial. It did take me a little bit to get it set up for all of my kids but it has been such a lifesaver.

Getting Ready

This is just a few ideas to get you started on your path to homeschooling. Next thing that you need to do is to start preparing for your first day of homeschool. Take a look through the new curriculum that you bought. Check to see what supplies you might need that weren’t on your basic list.

These would be special supplies for science activities and/or art projects that may be included. I try to prepare for one or two quarters at a time so that I’m not rushing around at the last minute to find things that we need. Just don’t do what I do when I buy the supplies and put them up for later only to forget where I put them.

When you look through the curriculum make sure that you are comfortable as well and that you understand what will be required of you and your child. Now is the time to ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand.

I may add some more onto this little series as time goes on but for now that’s all I’ve got. I hope this helps you to get started on this wonderful journey. Be sure to stick around as I’ll soon be posting our school plans for 2018-2019. I am so excited about what we have planned.

 

 

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