Help for Mom: Ideas?

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  • 4my4kids

    We all homeschool the CM way. I’m hoping that you guys would share some great ideas that help you as a mom get more organized and more productive to get school done efficiently.

    Do you have a catalog of your books at home that helps you?

    Do you make or use a lesson plan for your kids and yourself? Does this help?

    Do you have many kids at different age groups? How do you work around this with school?

    Ideas for keeping and organizing school and books if you don’t have a school room.

    Any and all information would be great. I have five kids 4 in school and 1 baby. It is quite difficult to keep up with what my older two (grades 7&6) are doing (or suppose to be doing) while working with basics with my younger two (grades 2&1) all while keeping baby. We have no school room so our books are spread out through the house. Any ideas to help me (things that have helped you) would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thank you all!


    We do not have a dedicated school room.  We do read alouds on the living room couch or on the back porch.  We do computer work at the desk in the multipurpose room.  We do most family subjects as well as copywork and math at the dining room table.  It is hard to stay organized, but we do our best.  I tend to revamp as needed, but these are the things that keep me sane:

    1.  Home Schooler’s Journal–This is my fourth year to use this, and I buy mine from Rainbow Resource for about $9.  It contains calendars, space for field trip notes, plenty of space for other notes and space to write at least 40 weeks worth of plans.  I write out my plans for each day in the large blocks.  The first four columns I use as a checklist for family work.  The last 2 columns I write out individual checklists of work for my ds8 and dd7 (grades 3 and 2).

    So for today I wrote Lit. ch. 19-20 (We are reading The Secret Garden).  When we finished reading this, I checked it off.  Tomorrow, I have planned to read ch. 21-22.

    For my daughter’s Math-U-See Beta lesson, I wrote:  Math 11D-___.  My kids use a timer, work for 20 minutes, and then I check their work.  When she finished her math, I filled 11G into the blank and checked off her math as finished.  Then for tomorrow she will begin at 11G (so I wrote that in the plans for tomorrow) and go as far as she can in 20 minutes.

    I basically write out each thing/subject that needs to be done and a small box to the left of the item so that I can check it off when I am finished.  I am definitely a paper and colored pen person, so this works for me.  At the end of the year, I have a journal of what we did each day.

    2.  Bookshelves

    We have bookshelves in the living room, multipurpose room and boys’ bedroom.  My oldest daughter has a shelf in her closet where she keeps her personal books.  I do not have a catalog of all of our books.  So far, I know what we have and can usually find books without any trouble, but then we are still growing our library.

    3.  Large dresser

    My children each have a drawer in a very large dresser in our dining room.  They keep their personal school books in their own drawer.  They also keep their timers and personal art supplies in their drawers.

    I have a drawer where I keep bookmarks, post it notes, and other teacher supplies.  We keep math blocks (in a plastic shoe box) and math dice in one drawer.  I have a drawer for page protectors and tracing paper.

    4.  Utensil basket

    Think silverware basket, but I use mine to hold pencils, colored pencils, highlighters, dry erase markers, sharpeners, scissors, etc.

    5.  Large bins/baskets

    I have a large bin in which I keep my instruction manuals, home schooler’s journal, SCM lesson plans for Bible, history, and geography, and current literature selections.  It is something I can carry around, but I generally leave it on a stool next to the large dresser in our dining room.

    I also have a large basket which holds three-ring binders.  This basket holds memory work binders and history binders.

    6.  Large plastic tubs

    When I don’t have space for things on shelves, I store them in tubs.  Currently I have a geography tub and a math manipulative tub. I keep them where they are easily accessible.

    I also have a ds4 and dd2, so I’m sure things will eventually change, but this is how we do things for now.  I hope at least I have given you some ideas.



    Do you have a catalog of your books at home that helps you?

    I don’t though it would be nice. What I have done is sort books by general topic and then store some topics away in the attic. For example, we are studying ancient history this year so I have boxed up most of our books that are for more recent times (middle ages, renaissance, and modern times). The books that are on our shelves are not in specific groupings unless they are books we plan to read this school year, those go up on a shelf the kids know is not for free reading.


    Do you make or use a lesson plan for your kids and yourself? Does this help?

    Yes and no. I start the year out with a plan. Some things are easy, you just do the next thing in the book (think math book, high school science textbook). Other things, like history, I may choose all the books I hope to read and then put them in order (Ancient Egypt before Greece, and Greece before Romans). Then I know that we work through the books in that order but I don’t sit down and plan out “We’ll read this book from December 2nd-December 20th, that book from January 4th – February 2nd.” I just know that on history days we read another chapter or two and talk about it. For my younger kids science we have a book that frames our study. Right now we just started God’s Design for Science: Human Body. So each day we do science I pull out the book, we read the next lesson, and pull out any books on that topic that we have on our shelves set aside (ex: it covers skeletal system before muscular system). Again, no real ‘lesson planning’.

    One thing that might fall under this that I DO is give each child a weekly assignment sheet. For December we’re on a light schedule. My 9th grader got a page today for this week and under each day of the week are check boxes for the following:

    ½ page of Math

    Biology with Mom

    1 chapter in The Odyssey

    My 1st grader got a list that says this under each day of the week:

    ½ page of Math

    Science with the big kids

    Reading lesson with Mom


    Each day the kids know once they’ve checked off the items on their list they are done. Sometimes they have to seek me out to work on something, other times they work independently. This has been priceless because I’m juggling so many kids. (9th, 5th, 4th, 2nd, 1st, PreK4, PreK3, Toddler, Newborn). I can see at a glance what they’ve done today and what needs done, and so can they. I don’t have to constantly answer “What do I do next?” because they can consult their assignment sheet.


    We do not have a school room. We have a large bookshelf in the dining room, a large metal shelving unit in the dining room with tubs of school items and games, book shelves in most other rooms, and strict rules about putting away what you get out. One thing we did this year that really has worked well is each child has a backpack or bin to hold their school materials (math books, pens, pencils, coloring supplies, scissors, glue sticks, notebooks, current literature book they are reading, etc.). This means they can find things easily. If a subject is done as a group the books stay on our school shelf.


    I have one son – age 6, so things are relatively simple as far as planning. I plan the year out in advance, writing down each subject, topics to cover and resources to use.
    I then plan out the first term. We have 3 – 60 day terms. The 60 days are blocked as 12 – 5 day weeks. I divide the courses over the 5 days of the week. Then I divide what I want to accomplish during that term over the weeks.
    For a subject like Literature I don’t plan specifically, we just choose a book and it lasts as long as it lasts (usually a chapter a day). Math is not planned either. We go at DS’s pace. I write in what we accomplished each day.
    For a subject such as history or science, I write down what we are going to accomplish for each lesson and check it off when it’s done.
    There are other subjects, such as Nature Study, Handicrafts and Lifeskills, that I don’t schedule for a specific day, but have space to write in what we do during the course of the week towards that study.

    It is definitely helpful to have the year’s big picture in writing and break it down to term, week, and day.
    Also, I wait until a term is finished or close to finished to plan the next term. Sometimes things don’t work as I had hoped, so I change plans for the next term, or even during the term if it is ‘too painful’ to continue.

    As I have a younger student, I need to remind myself that at this age a lot of what we study is more about exposing him to the ‘feast’ and developing good habits, and interests. Skills that he’ll need throughout life are more important than book knowledge.




    I’m not the most organized person, so maybe I’m not the best to answer this question.  😉  I also have 5 kids (ages 13 to toddler).  Our schoolroom is fairly organized.

    Do you have a catalog of your books at home that helps you?  I don’t.  I do keep a list of books in my purse that I’d like to purchase for next year or two.  This helps me when I come across used books and can’t remember which ones I already have.  I organize our books somewhat by subject.  I like having a list of books used in our curriculum and where to find it…this is especially helpful with e-books that I often forget about.

    Do you make or use a lesson plan for your kids and yourself? Does this help?  I have a lesson planner and this year my oldest 3 each have their own student planner.  Their student planners include which chapters they need to read on their own, their math lesson, and a reminder to practice piano.  This is still a work in progress, and I constantly have to remind them to do their work.  My lesson planner is a tremendous help.  I like having everything written out ahead of time.  For subjects where we just complete the next lesson, I don’t have specific plans written out (like math, copywork or phonics).

    Do you have many kids at different age groups? How do you work around this with school?  I have a wider age range each year. So far they’ve worked mostly together, but that will probably change when we have a high schooler next year.  We have taken 2 different approaches to the 3Rs.  Some years I’ve worked one-on-one with each child having their own time.  Other years we’ve worked by subject, for example, everyone working on copywork at the same time.  This is what we are currently doing.  Each approach has its good and bad points.

    Ideas for keeping and organizing school and books if you don’t have a school room.  We have a dedicated school area, but haven’t always.  In the past, I would only keep out books we were currently reading and basic school supplies.  Usually I had a cabinet to keep them in, but one year we used bins on a small bookcase.  Currently we keep dishpans organized by subject: history/geography, science, fine arts/extras, language arts, phonics, math, and Bible.  I only keep the books we are currently using in these bins, and they are stored on large plastic shelves.



    Thank you all!

    There is lots of great information. I hope to work on these.

    I’m hoping to keep what we are working on and put everything else in storage. I feel like I had a duh moment when you guys said that. 🙂

    Thank you all again. Merry Christmas!

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