How To Stay Organized While Homeschooling

Some would say I have a pretty type A personality. If you asked my parents or teachers growing up to describe me in a few words, perfectionist would typically come out. Organization and uncluttered spaces keep me happy and relaxed. Because I love doing lists, I created a lists of the lists I follow… see what I did there? If you’re like me and want tips to have smoother days, read on!

I follow a daily routine that works for your family

               I have always thrived on routine, and it was obvious Big T did too shortly after she was born. We have loosely followed the same daily routine ever since, and it’s working great for our family.

I meal plan

              Depending on the season, we meal plan weekly, biweekly or monthly. In the wintertime it is easier to plan 7 meals per month and rotate, since we do lots of stews and soups in big batches. These can be frozen easily and reheated, cutting down on prep time, grocery runs, food waster and electricity use. Most of our garden vegetables are frozen and there isn’t a lot of diversity. During the summer months as the garden produces plentiful options, we plan according to ripeness, with weekly menus. We grow most of our food therefore don’t depend on the store as much.

We enjoy making our own bread as well!

I follow a weekly cleaning routine

              This is my anchor. I need to follow this schedule or my house quickly becomes a disaster. I have severe dust allergies, and it keeps my family healthy. I spend a small amount of time each day cleaning a particular room in the house. No more than 15 minutes is lost on the chore, and the house remains dust free. We also spot clean busy areas like the dining room, and our robot vacuum goes daily.

My agenda is my life

              Quite literally, my life is written out in my binder. I have my agenda which follows me everywhere, keeping track of my work shifts, family appointments, outside activities, family gatherings, etc. I also have a weekly planner for activities and child-led lessons. This is my guide while I provide childcare as activities can be set up the day before to keep a flow through the day and concentrate on individualized time with the kids. I follow a monthly blog planner as well, lightly predisposing topics through my month and post releasing dates to try and stay on a rhythm.

We are minimalists

              We don’t have a lot of clothes, toys, and gadgets. Frankly, this is the route to take to remain uncluttered and stress free. We chose to go this route out of necessity and for a love of the environment. Instead of following the consumerism train, we ask family members to gift experiences with the girls, which they cherish much more than a toy. In turn, less packaging and plastic ends in our landfills. We also have a smaller house, meaning we simply don’t have the space for a lot of stuff. Since the Kondo method took over, more people are now following that route and a few of my friends have mentioned how nice it is to have the free space. Less things around the house means less things to pick up and find a spot for. For the kids, instead of buying multiple activities, we use our local book and toy library, allowing a rotation of interests and less clutter. Less clothes also means less laundry and 2 people can share a closet. For the kids, I organize their clothes by outfits on a hanger, allowing them the independence to pick their clothes for the day and get dressed on their own. There is multiple benefits to buying less. The kids have a greater imagination and more durable toys, and parents have more free time to play with them or follow their interests.

Here is our amazing local gym, which Big T has access too thanks to a family member!
Big T agrees, Best Gift Ever!

Finally, I accepted the lifestyle that comes with littles

If you’re type A like me, you are always trying to find new ways to organize your life and stay on top. I hope these new ideas may have sparked a little passion and ease. But one thing I learned over the years, is that it’s also fine and healthy to not have control over everything. My kids have taught me ever since I got pregnant that a little surprise and unknown can be fun! You have to let some things go to truly enjoy the moment. And as new situation emerges, chaos normally follows. Just remember, the transition between chaos and routine is only for a moment. So take a deep breath, and remember that you got this!

My 5 Biggest Homeschooling Mistakes

You are considering homeschooling and that’s great! But there is so much information available, and it is so hard to find a starting point, that it becomes overwhelming. So instead of telling you what to do, I’ll talk about my beginners mistakes. After 6 months of homeschooling my toddler, here’s what I learned and changed.

The 5 mistakes I made in the beginning of our homeschooling journey

1. Falling down the Pinterest hole

I started by submerging myself in pinterest crafts. It didn’t take long to feel like I was drowning in glitter. The crafts were all over the place, they didn’t have a flow, and let’s be honest here, with a 2 years old, I was doing most of them. And Big T being a bit more special, she wasn’t on par with the activities offered for her age.

While she was supposed to sort the found objects by color, she still enjoyed using her fine motor skills to dig through the bin.

2. Planning too far in advance

After scouring the depth of pinterest, and moving past the crafts, I had a plan on how and what I wanted to teach her. I followed the experts in the field and seasoned homeschoolers. I created themes, planned crafts months and advanced, and lost whole weekends! Within 2 weeks it was obvious the intensity was too high. What had worked for others, wasn’t working for my child. She wasn’t able to follow the activities intended for her age. So I did the same, read up on special needs curriculum, activities intended for younger children, created a new curriculum, spent hours on end, only to not find her interest in the more laid back activities. See where this is going?

3. Buying a curriculum

That’s when I took the liberating decision to buy a curriculum. It came highly recommended by other homeschoolers with toddlers. I finally felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. It is play based curriculum, one of the best forms of teaching toddlers and preschoolers. The activities looked fun, hit all subjects, and gradually increased in difficulty as the child learned new skills, switching themes every 2 weeks. They showed ways to accommodate the lessons to fit all learning style and offered some flexibility in timing. I felt as though it was the answer. With everything pre-planned and built to gradually increase in difficulty, I wouldn’t lose precious time researching lessons and money wasted on unused supplies. Only, we quickly had to change all lessons to the bare minimum. We had to skip over the discussions, limiting the language development opportunity, and after a month and a half, we were still on the first subject. I was bored, she was bored, so I gave up and moved to the next subject. 4 months later and she hadn’t learned the new skills we should have observed, according to the curriculum. So we scrapped it for the moment, and I promised myself I’d revisit it when she’s much older and able to communicate.

4. Asking social media for guidance

That’s when I turned to social media, only to be caught in a hurricane of advice and information. I was comparing my daughter to kids her age, younger, always feeling bad about our progress. I doubted myself, felt I was doing her wrong. She wasn’t counting, naming letters. I sensed as though I was failing and started considering preschool. I was told to look into Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Waldorf. I was spiraling in information and my daughter was losing interest in homeschooling all together, something she used to love so much. That’s when I stepped back from it all. We continued doing educational activities but with no intent. We gave ourselves a break.

5. Not following my instinct/doubting myself

This was by far my biggest mistake, which came to light during our break. I realized she learned the most when we were just having fun, before I had even considered homeschooling. We were playing, and she started to catch on some things. Some very unusual things, but still learning! She was able to show me where animals could find moss in the wintertime during our hikes even while snow covered. I finally came to realize that she doesn’t absorb the same information in the same way. She needs sensorial input, movement, and interest to take in something new. My gut told me to keep going with it, and I finally listened to it. She made leaps and bounds in all aspects of her development after. She started putting the few words and ASL she knew together to create two words sentences, her play enhanced in quality, amongst other things. Her therapists were amazed with all the new skills she learned in such a short period. She can’t be compared to other toddlers, since her neurological markup isn’t the same, but what child should be? They all have their own interests they want to explore. I just needed a little push to catch on.

I hope this helps anyone starting homeschooling little ones. As per learning, teaching has its own journey entirely and yours will lead you a different path then ours. Some aspects like a curriculum can definitely work with some families, and social media is a fountain of amazing information and advice. You just need to take the time and find the right balance.