I’m often told that I’m unique, and it makes me smile. I am different. I am a type A personality who loves to makes plans and execute them. My brain rarely rests, as I am always thinking about what needs to be done next or trying to analyze what just happened. Always trying to sort things out!
Over the years, each of my children has developed their own approach for processing through both school and work tasks. As I have watched them perform their tasks, ask questions, and discover the joys of working hard, I have had the blessing of sitting back and taking pride in seeing some of my own quirkiness in each one of them.
One year when I experienced a few staff changes, the office needed to be cleaned out and reorganized for new team members. Without request, my daughter Abby, often called “Mini Me,” set out to organize and clean the office. I watched closely as she processed the task. For this homeschooling mama, my heart was bursting with pride, even as my mind reminisced over fond memories from earlier years when the routine of getting ready for a new school year came around.
Whether you are preparing for a new school year, solving an organizational problem, or diving into mid-year reorganization just to add freshness and combat the mid-year slump, there are a few things that can help you along your way. Even if you are not a Type A, natural organizer like me, these tips can help you make a huge difference in your home and school organization.
Each year, as it became time to prepare our homeschool area for a new year, I’d starting itching to sort, organize, and make decisions about last year’s school work and supplies. Having a school area ready for a new year starts with scheduling time to tackle the task. Regardless the size of your school area or the number of children you are schooling, preparation takes a significant chunk of time. Intentionally scheduling in that time will make you much more likely to succeed in getting it done.
When we had busy summer months, I would tackle the re-organization in chunk size bits of time. A few hours here and a few hours there. Whether you spend a full day purging or tackle a little bit over a month, scheduling a time will prove beneficial.
Evaluate Storage Space
A full year of school work papers with five kids can add up quickly. Before the end of the year, we have bulging binders, crates of paper, and art projects galore. Deciding what to keep for the long haul and what needs to be thrown away often depends on my storage availability now and in the long run.
In years past, I would limit what I would keep to a Rubbermaid® container. With file folders in hand, I would sort the schoolwork I wanted to keep into stacks for each student. Writing the student’s name and school year, I deposited these treasured memories, one page at a time.
Declutter & Deep Clean
In addition to the school work, there are plenty of other supplies and resources to process through in order to start afresh with as little clutter as possible. My decluttering always began with trash bag in hand.
Don’t be afraid to be ruthless in your decluttering. Unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can and will be reused, the trinkets, broken pencils and crayons, mostly used art supplies, and other odds and ends should be gathered up and placed in the waste basket. With a bucket of hot soapy water in hand, the next task is to give all desks, writing areas, bookshelves, floors, baseboards, and other surfaces a thorough cleaning.
Giving and Sorting
Now it’s time to tackle the bookshelves. As the early years of homeschooling became fading memories, so too did the picture books and early readers on my shelves. Some books are priceless and will be read to the grandkids. But if they didn’t fit that category, I found a friend with younger children and gave those books a new home. Then I would focus my attention on what was left and make sure it was all well organized for easy access.
Everyone has a different way to sort the home library. For free spirits, the words “sort the home library” is a foreign language, and we can just move on to the next point. There are no set rules, as long as we can find the books we need when we need them. Most might think I use the Dewey Decimal system because of my personality, but my ideal is a good, clean design. So my books are ordered in shelves according to age levels and then according to height of the book, tallest to the left and shortest to the right. Your job is to find what works best for you and organize accordingly.
With everything sorted and cleaned out, I would make a list of essential school and art supplies for each student. Packing the kids in the car, we would all head to the local store to shop. I allowed each child to pick the colors and designs they liked best. We’d gather our bags of goodies and return home to finish the final school year preparations.
Some years, we had the fortune to have a separate room to school in, and each child was given an area complete with a desk, chair, and space to organize themselves. Other years, we used the kitchen table to school and the pantry to store supplies. In those years, each student received a crate to hold books, papers, pencils, and other personal items. Either way, they had supplies, storage, and at least a small space they could call their own – even if only during school time. Shopping with me helped them learn the value of their supplies, and having their own space and resources helped them learn the responsibility of taking care of their corner.
Neatly organized, clean, and well supplied, our homeschool area – whether large or small – was ready to tackle a new year of learning and growing and so were we! As you take the time to prepare well for your new year, you’ll find a peace of mind that radiates through the family.