After sharing a photo on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, I got several requests to share more information about my new homeschool command center. So below, I’m sharing details for how to organize a simple homeschool command center. It’s so easy it’ll work in even small spaces. All you need is some clipboards, and a wall. Don’t miss my other homeschooling tips & tricks.
This week we started back to school. And, it’s 9th grade for my young man! I wish I had been more proactive about preparing his 9th grade classroom. I could say that I was fully prepared for my son’s first day of High School. But, I have to admit that I was not.
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Digging into Homeschooling High School
I had most of the first day planned out, and some of the week. And, I had a general idea of what I want him to work through for the year. But, my reality was such that my August was super busy. I had planned to spend last week doing all the homeschooling prep work, and planning for this school year. However, that did NOT happen.
Instead my in-laws came to visit for the first time since our move to KC. We celebrated their 50th anniversary, and Jonathan’s 14th birthday. So, I have been a bit behind. Add to that, our classroom looked like a cross between a storage closet, playroom, and office and I knew I was not doing my 9th grade student any favors.
I had intended to do it last week and we unexpectedly had my in-laws visiting for the week so my pre-planning days were nixed.
Nevertheless, we started our first day back to school on Monday.
And as he began his day with Bible, I realized I hadn’t followed through with purchasing the general Bible curriculum I had wanted to get. I had also planned some supplemental things, so I told him to begin with that since I knew I could quickly print it to get him started. And, while he worked on that I sat down with my Homeschool Planet, and began to really dig in and look at what plans yet needed to be made.
I honestly was so, well, stunned. I was unprepared for my son’s first day, first year, of high school. And, that saddens me. The years are short! Before I know it, he’ll be ready to leave home and I feel under prepared for that reality.
Facing Homeschooling with a Fresh Set of Eyes
I’ve kind of felt, well, out of the loop, so to speak, with homeschooling for the past couple of years. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long you know that the last couple of years have been a whirlwind for my family and emotional for me personally. And, I have discovered that I had kind of checked out, in regards to homeschooling.
Thankfully, my son was able to learn how to become an independent learner during that time. Using Notgrass Curriculum has definitely been a blessing to us. Because, the guided daily lesson plans allowed my son to take charge of his own homeschooling. That, coupled with using Apologia for science and Khan Academy for math, he really developed his own pattern for managing his homeschooling tasks on a daily basis.
And while that is a good thing, him growing independently, it still left me feeling like I was disengaged from the process.
So I set out Monday to make a change. I stood in his classroom looking around at the clutter, the elementary books shoved on the shelf, the board games stacked haphazardly in the closet, the shelf with a little of this, and a little of that, and the overall disorganization and I realized, I have been doing him a disservice.
I sat down and began working through his lesson plans. I began to really think about what goals I wanted for him for high school, and what is possible to accomplish this year.
But before I could really dig into lessons, I knew I needed a fresh start. So, I started cleaning and purging his classroom. Which is not a good thing while he’s doing his lessons. I was kind of a distraction. But… that’s what I did. I started purging old books, eliminating from the room stuff that belonged elsewhere and took a good look around the room. And then, I pulled the things off the wall that we wouldn’t be needing for the year.
I organized the curriculum we’d be using this year and it helped me to get a sense of both what we have, as well as what I still need to provide.
Once done, I had a clean slate to work with. And that, helped me to figure out how I wanted to manage his year.
9th Grade Homeschool Command Center
That’s when I came up with a plan for how to organize, and keep informed about his work. I created what I’m calling our 9th Grade Homeschool Command Center.
Utilizing Homeschool Planet, I’ll plan create lesson plans for him. He then gets a daily email listing his lessons for the day, and he opens his own Homeschool Planet account. As he works he checks off digitally what he’s accomplishing. I can monitor his progress from my own computer.
With Homeschool Planet, I can either set an expected time, like 1 hour per lesson, or I can manually add the amount of time it takes for him to complete a lesson. I happen to live in a state that requires keeping track of hours. Homeschool Planet, makes it easy to meet that requirement. Making him responsible for managing his own daily tasks by checking them complete makes it easy for both he and I to know what needs to be done.
I spent the majority of the afternoon Monday prepping lesson plans, and even most of Monday evening making some hard decisions.
But I was left with trying to figure out how to manage his specific lesson tasks, and keeping track of paperwork that he needs on a daily basis. Often, such papers get shoved onto shelves, or lost in stacks of mail, or books, never to be seen again.
That’s when I came up with the Homeschool Command Center idea.
How the Homeschool Command Center Works
Utilizing a variety of clipboards I organized a wall area of our classroom. I included a map of the world because his core history this year is world history. I’ve also got a poster containing the Bible genealogy because he’ll be doing a chronological study through the Bible this year. However, those spaces may be altered throughout the school year as his lessons change.
Next to the wall, I added a 3-drawer plastic storage tower. My plan with this is to add larger items that he’ll need from time to time. On top of it, I placed a decorative archive box which can do double duty storing needful things. On top of that I placed a letter holder which I can use to place various library books he’ll need for literature.
I also added a small, dry-erase board. It can be used for memory verses, or just a place to put reminders. He can also write notes for me in case he needs to remind me of something.
Each week, I’ll add or remove items to the command center that he will need to utilize for his weekly lesson plans. These might include lists of items to memorize, copy-work, specific lesson plans provided within curriculum. I’ll use Post-it flags to help him keep track of what he’s working on.
- Art Supplies
- Specific Lesson Plans
- Reference Guides
This way the material he needs to access regularly will be in the room, on the wall, and we both know where to go to find it.
This solves several problems.
It allows me to be fully engaged in the process.
Because, I have to plan ahead and be prepared for him to have the items he needs, having a pre-arranged location to keep everything organized will help me to stay on track and engaged in the process. While I realize that I have needed to do this all along, the reality is when you utilize a boxed curriculum, sometimes the work is done for you. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but when your child has to come and ASK for materials and you haven’t a clue what they are talking about, then it doesn’t allow them to truly be prepared for their lessons.
So… by preparing his materials ahead of time I’ll know what he needs and be sure he has them in place.
It might mean printing items, or it might mean ensuring that literature readers are in place and ready to go. Or, it might be that I need to make sure that his art supplies are purchased and ready when he needs them. That means, I can no longer rely solely on what’s in the curriculum lesson plan guides.
So, I’ll be reading ahead and planning ahead. I’ll utilize the to-do widgets, and build shopping lists in my Homeschool Planet so as we work through the years I’ll have a handy reference for the things I need to buy. Also I’ll be utilizing Homeschool Planet’s reading list widget to keep track of what’s up next on his book list, and other resources that need to be printed. This way, I can be prepared to rotate out those pages and materials as needed.
It Allows Him to be Even More Independent
Since he will not be having to wait for me to provide him with materials, he can manage his daily assignments. No more last minute rushing, searching, trying to find materials, and needful items to complete his school tasks. Which means, no more excuses for either of us. If something is missing from the command center… the buck stops with me.
It Teaches Him to Be Organized
Since I am also planning on teaching him a wide variety of life-skills this year, this method also helps him form necessary organizational skills. By modeling an organizational system he will begin to understand the need for having systems in place. Such systems help a person to be more focused and able to accomplish tasks in a timely manner.
It Helps Me to Stay on Track with Record Keeping
Admittedly, this has been one of my biggest struggles. Especially, since moving and having new legal requirements. I’m hopeful that this system will serve as a prompt for me to stay up-to-date with recording hours, lesson plans, as well as grading tests, and other projects due throughout the year.
I am hoping that this new homeschool command center will help both he and I to stay organized with our schooling all year long. Let me know what you think. Would you add or remove anything specific from the center? What ways would you perhaps utilize such as system in your own homeschool?
This post is part of iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Classroom Hop.
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