February 29, 2008, Newsletter Issue #217: How do I stay organized?

Tip of the Week

I am the world`s most organized person! I am so organized, experts ask me for advice! I am so organized... OK, those of you who know me can stop laughing now. Truth be told, my organizational skills leave much to be desired.

Don`t get me wrong. My house is CLEAN. Just not so organized. When we decided to homeschool, it only got worse. Books are everywhere. Paper, colored on and blank, all over the place. Finally, one day, I decided it had to end! I come from a long line of pack rats, so I knew I wouldn`t get much help there. I bought the book "Confessions of An Organized Homemaker," and lost it. I asked everyone I knew how they handled their homeschool "stuff" that seems to multiply faster than I can pick it up. Most of the answers I got went something like this: "All over the floor. If you find a good way to deal with it, please let ME know!" Hummm... Looks like I`m on my own here.

After much trial and error, here is what we have come up with. While it is probably not the best solution, it sure beats "all over the floor!" If YOU have any ideas, please let ME know!

My so called organized life

• Organization: The first thing we did was find a huge, 5 drawer dresser. I brought it home, painted it (white & red checks on the sides, white frame and chalkboard paint on the drawers) and now it serves as "homeschool central." Next to this sits a small, step type shelf, described under "individual work."

• Individual Work: Each kid has a small basket with their name on it. All three of these are kept on a shelf, along with any books they are reading, necessary papers, and miscellaneous stuff they collect during the day. If there is a special book I want them to read, paper I want them to look at, or whatever, it goes into their basket. They also have a folder, where they keep any papers in progress. These also goes here.

• Dealing with the mounds of library books: We are lucky. Our library gives us a receipt every time we check something out. (They use a wonderful machine, probably paid for with our fines.) As soon as we get home, the receipts go on the fridge with a magnet. All library books are kept on a book shelf that's just for that purpose.

• Papers, Papers & more Papers: Yikes! Paper everywhere! The top drawer of the dresser is all paper. Notebook paper, construction paper, card stock, computer paper ... if they make it, it`s in there! I also keep a huge box of scrap paper the kids can color on anytime they want.

• Crayons, Markers, Pencils, etc.: I cut three old milk cartons (save the handle, but cut the opening large enough for a hand) and use them to store crayons, colored pencils and markers. Those are on top of the dresser. The second drawer of the dresser has a basket of misc. office equipment like stapler, paper clips, and thumb tacks. All pencils go into a pencil box, also in this drawer.

• The third drawer of the dresser holds folders, extra paper (yes, we have that much!) and other miscellaneous stuff.

• The bottom two drawers hold games, but are filling up fast, so we are on the look out for a better storage solution!

• We have made it a rule that before the TV goes on, before any computer games (educational or otherwise) are played, before anyone steps a foot out side, things are put away, and in their place. I don`t think we will ever be totally organized, but since we started this system, things seem to be better!

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Sarita Holzmann
Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.

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