Our Homeschool Set Up

Over the years I have been asked by so many people exactly how I set up and conduct our homeschool. Since every family is unique, every homeschool is going to be unique; but I’ve created this page to explain the nuts and bolts of how my school operates. I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first started contemplating homeschooling, so I hope that you can find something here that takes away any similar feelings you might have.

How I choose homeschool curriculum

I don’t follow any one school of thought completely when it comes to homeschool methodology. However, I do lean heavily towards Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. I am also looking towards college, so I add in things from time to time that I feel are important for college prep.

Practically, I read homeschool curriculum reviews at The Well Trained Mind and Cathy Duffy’s sites. I’m looking for studies that make heavy use of many kinds of research and presentation – I shy away from the traditional textbook and fill in the blank worksheet. Once I have my list of ‘contenders,’ I head over to Rainbow Resource and pull up each book so that I can scour the Table of Contents and the sample pages of each. This generally allows me to find the right curriculum for each subject. Rainbow Resource has a generous ‘review’ time which allows you to return a book if it turns out not to be what you expect.

Another option is to buy a full year’s curriculum from a publisher like Abeka, Sonlight, or Bob Jones which will give you a fully planned, fully laid out school year.

How I do my lesson plans

Most of the publishers I buy from offer some kind of a suggested lesson plan for their product. Except for art/composers, we do every subject everyday. So I simply open up the teacher’s manual and make the day’s assignments fit our daily schedule. For spelling and vocabulary work, I divide the lesson into 4 assignments and I do a quiz on the material every Friday. For our fine arts, we do a lesson out of our Abeka art book on Mondays, study artists on Wednesday and Friday, and study composers on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I write the assignments for the week in the kids’ planners each weekend. This year I am trying to have a master list of assignments completed in my teacher binder before the school year starts to make this task easier.

How our school space is set up

In our current house, the only place to set up a true school room is upstairs, and it didn’t work very well for us when we did that in the past. The place we always come back to is the kitchen table. It’s convenient to the stovetop and sink for science experiments, it’s near the TV for any movie or YouTube videos, and it allows me to do housework without being out of earshot for questions.

Each of my kids have an inexpensive cabinet in our living room that has a drawer and two doors. The drawer holds markers, colored pencils, crayons, and glue sticks. Inside their binders and textbooks stand up on the bottom, and any library books they have are on the top shelf. This allows the kids to have easy access to their books, but keeps our living room looking clutter free.

The kitchen cabinet drawer right next to our table has a divider tray filled with pencils, pens, and math tools. The pencil sharpener is hidden behind a decorative plate.

How I stay organized

I keep all the plans, worksheets, and important county papers in one binder on my kitchen counter. I use Pinterest to pin any lesson plan ideas and projects I want to try for the year. I have a designated credenza where I keep all of our art and science supplies. I love check lists and planners, so I make use of them whenever possible. Mainly, by keeping everything together in either my binder or my credenza I always know where to find what I’m looking for.

I also start my planning for the next school year around Spring Break of the previous year so that I have LOTS of time to ponder, evaluate, and research. Sometimes I might go a month without doing any planning, but by starting so early I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed. (Plus, I always get excited at the prospect of new studies. I know, I’m a dork!) Pinterest has become my new best friend, and when I combine my pinned ideas with a trusty spiral notebook I have everything I need.

 

This is just the way things work for my family. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about how to set up your homeschool. Just remember that flexibility is the key. I have changed many things from the first year we started homeschooling. Part of the beauty of a customized education is that I can stop doing something that doesn’t work and try something else. I keep a regular attitude of evaluation, and I give myself the freedom to tweak where necessary. As a parent, you know your children better than anyone, so feel confident that you can do this! 🙂