Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back to School

I've always been one of those people who loved going back to school.  Yes, I admit, I was a nerd.  It wasn't that I was terribly excited about the school work, itself, but going back to school meant seeing friends more frequently, cooler weather, school activities, and of course, new school supplies.  From the time I was in elementary school, I remember sorting and organizing my new school supplies.  I would arrange everything neatly in either my supply box or backpack about a week before school started, and then the next day, I would take everything out and reevaluate my method and then pack everything back up neatly.  There was just something exciting about a box of fresh, unused crayons, clean notebooks, and newly sharpened pencils.  Of course, by the end of the school year, my fascination with a nice, neatly organized backpack had long faded away, as most things were just shoved in quickly without a second thought. 

Fast forward to today.....and not much has changed.  Being a homeschool mom means that it's not just my backpack that I get to's all the school supplies and curriculum that now receive my attention to detail.  After adding on to the house last year, we now have an "official" schoolroom.  I don't know how long it will stay the schoolroom, but that's the plan for now.  When we were building, we often referred to this room as the "game room" or "bonus room."  Basically, it's an extra room upstairs that I intended to use for the kids in some capacity.  My husband has dreams of one day having a ping-pong table upstairs....maybe after the kids graduate.  :) Until this year, we have always done school at the kitchen table or living room coffee table.  While this method worked fine, it required that the table be cleared off completely each afternoon and most of the time, school books ended up piled on the kitchen counter or the corner of my desk (or both), leaving the kitchen in a constant state of clutter. Moving school upstairs will (hopefully) keep all the school supplies in one central location (away from the kitchen), increase the number of times I climb up and down stairs during the day (therefore decreasing the amount of time it takes to shed the baby weight), and keep us me away from the temptation of getting on the computer during school time for non-school related searches.

So as we approach another school year, I now have an entire room ready and waiting to be organized and filled with books, supplies, games, tables, chairs.  There is just one slight problem.....the two closets have no shelves.  None.  Just two closets with 8 feet of empty vertical space. 

Of course, we plan to put shelves in these closets, but our budget (as well as going over-budget on the house last year) and my husband's busy work schedule have prevented it from being accomplished.  So, for the first few months of school, I am being forced to make the most use of available floor space, keeping in mind that I also have a toddler on the loose these days. 

Sunday afternoon I made it my mission to get ready for the coming school year (coming in just over a week around these parts).  I don't have any before pictures, but I had each kid's curriculum sorted and stacked in a brown box.  I was already imagining the headache of watching the kids digging down in their box for a particular book, throwing every other book on top over the side of the box onto the floor in a big jumbled heap.  Let's just say that I don't think my kids inherited my organizational skills.....

Anyway, it's not perfect, and I still have to figure out a way to keep the toddler out of the school supplies, but here are some pictures of the new school room, almost ready for school to start in July. 

Window sills make great book shelves

I promise.....there is a method to the madness!

K-4 materials

1st grade

3rd grade

Mom's lesson plans....3rd & 1st grades divided by the blue binder

I'm guessing it will take about 3.8 seconds on the first day of school to completely destroy this system....

I didn't forget about the toddler....
Evidence that the aforementioned toddler destroyed helped my efforts today

Reading nook with the book basket box

Inside the shelf-less closet

Additional school supplies & activities

By the way, for those of you balking at the idea of starting school in July, one of the (many) great benefits of homeschooling is being able to set your own schedule.  I would much rather get a jumpstart on school while it is blazing hot outside and then have the flexibility to take off two weeks in the fall (for example, to have a baby, maybe?), take more days off in the spring when the weather is becoming nice and warm once again, begging us to get out of the house for some fresh air, or take a family vacation in February during the non-peak season, meaning fewer crowds and lower expenses.  We're also taking it easy the first two weeks, getting adjusted to a new schedule, gradually easing into the more demanding subjects such as math and spelling during the 2nd and 3rd weeks.  The downside to starting school the first week of July?  Back to school sales don't start until mid-July!

If you haven't noticed, I am pretty excited about starting this school year.  Just like the excitement of new school supplies as a kid, the excitement of searching through new curriculum and ideas as I plan the first few weeks of school leaves me giddy to get started!  We've added a new curriculum this year for Bible, history and science that I am looking forward to as well.  I'm sure I'll be sharing more as we go along this year, so if you're interested, come along for the ride! 

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