We live in a tiny townhouse and this is the only space we have for all homeschooling stuff! Which if you’re a veteran, you know can accumulate quickly! I’m only in by half a year, we officially started in January! Though I basically homeschooled through preschool. Anywho, this is what I did to prepare for a smooth, productive, fun year!
1. I took down all the art on our art wall, either tossing it or putting it in a portfolio. Same for our work folders from all the great work over the last year.
2. Went through all our supplies to make sure we had the essentials; sharpened pencils, erasers, paper, etc. And made sure everything is easy to get to; moved the books to another book case (our supplies have outgrown our space already!) Added more shoe boxes to group together office supplies, art supplies, scratch paper, etc. Tossed a bunch of recyclables I had saved for art projects. We were running out of room! I don’t really want my dining room to look like a recycle bin and I have no where else to keep it! I did save some of it, but as an artist, I see project potential in almost everything! Our school book case looks so nice and tidy now! Well, to me it does! I even thought about covering the boxes with pretty paper and labeling them! But then I knew for sure I’d end up reorganizing everything and have to change all the labels. I’ll wait and see what this year brings.
Perhaps you’re thinking how awfully cluttered this space looks, plus the fact that it’s in the middle of my home and everyone has to see it, and I could have at least used matching bins instead of shoe boxes! Well, I change things so frequently, I did not want to spend on organizational supplies that would only work for a short time. And I do cover the shelf and desk with a curtain and tablecloth on the rare occasion I have dinner guests. Hopefully, you’re just thinking, thank goodness I’m not the only one with school supplies up to my eye balls! And I don’t have to be Martha Stuart to be organized! As long as it’s functional, I’m happy! Okay, back to my list:
3. I made a list of things I would like my son to learn and planned out, with my son, a list of subjects he’d like to cover, such as dinosaurs, arctic animals, oceans, how the body works, and forest animals (can you tell he likes animals?!). If you use a curriculum, this is where I would say get your curriculum and workbooks, but so far we’re mainly unschoolers, so I haven’t needed them yet. I like to do unit studies, where I include all subjects in one topic. We usually stick to one subject for about two weeks, more if he wants to delve into it deeper. We went to the library and stocked up on dinosaur books, DVD’s, music, and have already started reading, watching, doing some games, mazes, and art projects that are all dinosaur related. It’s been so fun to get back into the learing groove! We all missed it!
4. I’ve started thinking about what subscriptions or memberships, if any we want this year. I got one for the Discovery Learning Center, http://dlcsantacruz.org, here in Santa Cruz so I can use their resource library. I plan to get a state park pass and I signed up for a free trial with www.readingeggs.com. My son played it last spring for a while and Loved it! I couldn’t get him off of it at first, but when it got harder, he was no longer interested. But it’s awesome for teaching beginning readers. He went from only knowing his letters & sounds, to being able to read short sentences in a couple weeks! I may break down and buy the subscription if he keeps playing it, which I hope he does! I want a membership to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but it’s pricey, so I may have to wait on that one. Definitely going to homeschool day, though! There are so many great subscriptions, books, etc, I’ve come across and I have to remind myself that he’s only a kindergartener, we don’t need all the fancy stuff to teach the basics!
5. The next thing I got ready is my calendar. I have a big one where I write down everything I would love to go to, and I mean everything! I also have my pocket one with the important dates I can’t miss. I still write it all down! I’ve tried digital calendars, but I just like to be able to open it and see everything for the whole month, no logging in, no charging batteries! I made sure it was up to date with field trips, classes, library story times, museum and other homeschool days or free days, state park programs, cultural, music, and art festivals, county fairs, etc. These are some local calendars worth checking so you don’t miss anything great:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/HomeCruzers/ (must be a member)
6. The last thing, which I’m ever working on, is finding great ideas, from other blogs, friends, websites, of projects, science experiments, worksheets, places to go, etc that I would like to use either now or in the future, so I always have a wide range of things for us to do, learn, experiment with, go to, etc, at the ready!
Oh and if your brand new, the very first must do is to get involved with other homeschool families. Join online groups such as facebook or yahoo groups for a start! Supportive friends are an absolute must! Have a great start to your homeschool year!