10 Homeschool Systems That WORK (Without Stressing Mom!)

Whether you’re doing distance learning, online learning, or traditional homeschooling, there are some things that every home education environment will have to deal with. Where do the kids turn in their papers? What do you keep, what do you not keep? Regardless of if you’re homeschooling or doing distance learning, I wanted to give you my best tips for how to ready your home for school, and make it easy on mom. Here 10 homeschool systems that worked for me to make life a little easier during homeschooling. 

As many of you know I homeschooled my 4 kids for 8 years. I thought that chapter of my life had closed, but like I always say… write your plans in pencil and hand God the eraser! In light of the recent pandemic of COVID 19, I know there are people all over the world that have never before considered homeschooling, and now they are. So, as we hand God the eraser of our plans, let’s go ahead and pencil in some new plans for the upcoming school year. 

When the shut down first happened, I came out with a list of homeschool tips for non homeschoolers, so you might enjoy that read as well! Today I am sharing some systems that are good to set up when you actually have time to prepare. 

Keep Different Ages Learning The Same Things

For distance learning you only have so much control over this, but apply this concept to Religion class at least!

With your core subjects (Reading, Writing, and Math) each kid needs their own curriculum because they are learning age specific skills. However, for subjects such as Art, History, Science, Religion, Handicrafts etc the whole family can learn together! This creates a cohesion in the family and is also a LOT easier on moms! When you teach your kids together, everyone learns on their own level. Older kids can be assigned more written work and further reading on the topics, but activities can be done together. 

Daily Task Cards For Kids

I like to keep cards with every subject the kids do, plus additional fun activities, chores, etc on separate cards with a hole punched in the corner. Each kid has their own ring on a hook. Every morning I can go through the cards and put everything on the ring that the child is expected to complete for the day. So when they finish breakfast they can grab their ring and start working on their daily tasks, starting with what they can do independently. I also have a little dry erase marker so they can check off the laminated cards as they complete their day. 

This keeps them from asking all day what they need to do before they’re “finished”. It’s the same basic concept as a checklist but it allows me to easily alter it each morning. 

You can find the some similar rings here and the dry erase markers on chains here. 

Morning Basket Time To Start The Day 

You have a “morning basket” that is full of things you are reading to all the kids, and your day starts by gathering everyone around and listening together. This could be a chapter book you’re reading, a reading from the Bible, a short Saint of the day story, something you’re reading for a class they’re doing together, etc. Your own curriculum will determine what’s in the basket. I also like to keep “do nothings” in the basket that their little hands can fiddle with while I’m reading. They only come out during morning basket time, which keeps them fresh. Here is a good assortment of fidget items for kids. 

Special “School Time Only” Preschool Materials

For your preschoolers that need to stay busy while you school the older kids, you needs activities that they are only allowed to have during school time. These could be in special tubs or “busy bags” and might include items like dot markers, Montessori activities, or play dough. This is so they stay busy while you are needed elsewhere. I successfully used these rainbow drawers for years and it worked really well! Check out my post on how I organize our preschool materials like this here. (Definitely read this post- it’s good stuff!) 

Limit Screens In A Sneaky Mom Way

I find it very useful to limit screens by choosing certain days (or times of day) when only educational screen time is allowed. So make a list that specially states what qualifies as educational (which shows, which games on the tablet, etc) and when they ask for screens you reply with “educational screen time only”. I like to say this about weekdays.

The results are one of 2 things:

  1. They will get tired of watching National Geographic and History documentaries, and they will move onto real life activities.
  2. OR they will watch educational programs and they’re learning stuff. 

Win win.

Have “Turn In Drawers”

You can get these standard plastic drawers at Wal-Mart. The drawers can fit an entire piece of paper flat. Label each drawer with a kid’s name. When they’re finished with a page, or even a coloring sheet, whatever… and they bring it to you (and let’s face it- 99% of the time you’re in the middle of something else) you say “Wow! That looks awesome! Turn it in and I can take a better look at it later.” This will help you out a ton, I promise. Here’s a similar set from Amazon that you can get in a variety of colors. 

Keep Annual Portfolios Of Their Work

The vast majority of their stuff you will throw away, but I like to keep a sampling of the adorable stuff! We have a 2 inch binder for each kid every year. I fill it with clear page protectors and we can slide in whatever is worth keeping. What stuff you ask? The stuff from the drawers above. Every few months go through and keep what’s worth keeping, pitch what needs pitching.

You would be surprised at what all you can fit in those clear page protectors

I like to have them draw a self portrait for each year and slide it in the front of the binder. We label each binder with the grade they were that year. You can see Lydia’s for kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades all together below.

Color Code EVERYTHING

If you have multiple kids, this will help you out with mess a lot. For most of their school supplies, you can buy them in the color assigned to that kid: binders, notebooks, folders, etc. For other things, I grab a roll of washi tape in each color, and we wrap it around the ends of their pencils, markers, etc. That way, each kid can be responsible for keeping the lids on their own markers, keeping up with their colors, etc. Also, when you see materials left out, you don’t even have to think- you know who needs to come clean up the mess right away based on the color!

Focus On The “3 R’s” When Times Are Tough

This has GOT to be the golden rule of homeschooling lol. I can’t tell you how much I heard this among the community. The 3 R’s are:

  • Reading
  • wRiting
  • ‘Rithmatic

So yeah, when life is tough and things are crazy, just make sure you’re covering reading, writing, and math each day. These are the skills that “build” so it’s important to keep going. The rest can be considered fluff when times are stressful. 

5 Systems To Enhance Any Homeschool

While this post shared 10 organizational ideas for the practical parts of homeschooling, this post with 5 easy homeschool systems are for enhancing your homeschool, and valuing education in the home. It’s a great counterpart to this post! 

Super Easy Religious Ed For Catholic Kids At Home

If you’re looking to teach Religious Education at home with your kids together, you may want to check out my easy notebooking option! For each lesson, you just read a 2 page spread of a picture book and complete an open ended notebooking page. The 130 page pack also includes a lot of alternative page options for pre-writers. At home Catholic RE couldn’t get easier than this!

I also have a complete Catholic homeschool curriculum for preschoolers! It’s a letter of the week format and includes

Catholic ABC's Curriculum

You can find more of my homeschool resources for families here:

Comments

  1. Cheryl Winter says

    Hi Lacy,
    Love this post- and after 25 years of homeschooling, all you said above rings true!

    I would say, however, 4 R’s– religion being even more important than the other 3. If at the end of a day we love the Lord more and know that heaven is the real goal of homeschooling, we will have done much for the day.

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