Monday, January 05, 2009

Thirteen Years of Organization

Today's guest blogger is Diane.
Here are a few things I do that have worked really well for us.

We have a tower bookcase that is about 12 inches across and has five shelves. So, it is tall and skinny. That creates five sturdy cubbies. Each cubby has enough room for a child’s schoolbooks for the year. Here they keep the books while they are not in use. Not only does it keep them handy for the kids, but it is handy for me to find the books when I am making lesson plans or checking papers.

On each side of the tower is a regular bookcase, each 28 inches across and just as high as the tower bookcase. On one side of the tower, I have arranged the shelves so that we have 3 of those stacking file trays. There is a stacking file of five, one for each kid, for kids to put work into when it is completed. The other stack of five is for me to put the work when I have checked it so that they can file it in their “completed work” notebook. The third stack of trays (not visible in the picture) has a tray for 4 different kinds of paper: notebook paper, printer paper, manuscript paper, and scrap paper. In the other bookcase, I keep notebooks with lesson plans and various other materials I use fairly frequently. They are an arm’s length away from my desk so that it is very convenient when grading and doing lesson plans.

Perpendicular and right next to the bookshelves is my desk. On my desk, I have priority space for the items I need to use to grade papers. I have a notebook for each kid with answer keys. I have the stickers, prize tickets, calculator and grading pens I like to use all here, easy to reach. So, this is all a teacher’s corner to me. I try to keep the desk clean (note the word try) so that it is easy to sit down and check the papers every afternoon or evening.

A great thing we found at a thrift store for about $50 is a cabinet that has 8 shallow drawers. It has a safety mechanism that only one drawer can open at a time. Each drawer opens fully. This is sooo perfect for all the school supplies. Since the drawers are shallow, everything is easy to see. We have a drawer for science supplies, craft supplies, regular school supplies, cd’s and tapes, puzzles and 2 misc drawers.

For the kids’ workspaces, we have different things for different kids. We have three desks in the formal living room. Two of the kids who need to use word processors a lot have computers. The oldest child, a senior, has a desk in his room, but often uses a computer in the school room. I work with the younger 2 children at a table in the schoolroom. The first grader has a small desk in the schoolroom for her seatwork. We used to have desks and computers in the kids’ bedrooms because the little kids made so much noise during their playtime, but found that too much time was wasted playing with computer settings and such, so all the computers came out in to the open where I can monitor them better.

We have been homeschooling for 13 years. We have changed around our organization a lot of times, but the tower bookcase and its accompanying stacking trays and desk right by have been the anchor for quite a while. Also, so as not to discourage newbies, I would like to emphasize that it took a while to get all the shelves and stuff. We bought the tower bookcase new, but someone gave us the bookcases. We got my great metal desk for about $35 at an auction. We bought two computer desks new, but two of them came really cheap from a garage sale. Someone gave us the school table and the little school desk. I think our file cabinets were about $12 or so each at an auction. Overall, God has really blessed us!!!

Below are pictures of all of this. I didn’t clean anything up in order to take the pictures, but it just so happened that I had cleaned off my desk in anticipation of grading papers. There can be a lot of clutter when homeschooling six kids at once!

Thank you Diane!

For more on organizing, you can download the recorded webinar Organizing Your Classroom 101 for free at Homeschool Connections. Click on the link that says Recorded Events.

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