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Getting started back to school gives us a chance for fresh inspiration for how to run our homeschools. Keeping things organized will make every part of homeschooling easier, from being able to find what you need when you need it, to being sure people know what tasks they have, and how and where to complete and store their work.

The primary teacher needs to have a planner. Depending on the ages of your children, a digital planner that everyone can see, use, and update is a terrific resource. The one we use has each family member’s schedules for out-of-the-house activities (work, church, school, activities, plans with friends) and all family commitments. This way, as plans are being made, everyone knows what else is happening and can check if anything is conflicting. Go ahead and put date nights in there for you and your spouse each week, even if it is just a special time at home together. One evening a week (I use Sunday) check with each family member and be sure they have updated the calendar for their own activities. Check for conflicts with rides, times a babysitter may be needed, or anything to purchase for upcoming activities, and add them to the shopping list.

Next, keep a master list of school subjects for each child. As subjects change, give each child a copy of this master list to work from daily, and keep a copy for yourself. As schoolwork is completed (particularly when the student is fairly independent), have him review his checklist, and then as you grade or teach, you can also check it off on your own copy of the list. This helps keep subjects from slipping through the cracks. If your state has specific forms required (check with HSLDA) keep those in a binder stored in the school area or in a filing cabinet.

Even if your children do schoolwork throughout the house, designate one place where all textbooks are returned daily. This area will need to be tidied regularly, which will help prevent losing books or important papers. It also keeps the table clear where you can have meals, play games, or work in the evening. Give each child a pencil bag in which they can keep their preferred pens, pencils, erasers, and the like. They can carry these to whatever spot they do the work. Establish a family drawer with extra supplies for them to use.

For the sake of the workflow, have a regular chore/school/outings schedule. Keeping a consistent daily and weekly chore routine helps keeps the house reasonably tidy. Choose a schedule that works well for your family. We tend to do the bulk of our highly concentrated schoolwork in the morning, with the afternoons being more flexible for easier subjects, free time activities, and trips out of the home. Daily chores that are firmly established (kitchen tidying, dishes, meal prep, laundry and trash gathering) will help with the workflow and general pleasantness of the environment. You can do a lot of chore training over the summer as children get older to make sure that when autumn rolls around, the new routines are easy to keep.

Look ahead at the subjects for the year, and make some goals to be sure you are on track. For example, if your math book has 130 lessons in it, based on when you begin, how much should you complete each month, week, and day? Check monthly where you are as compared with those goals and see if adjustments are required to complete the work in a timely manner.

If you participate in co-ops or other activities, establish a special place to keep backpacks or equipment bags, taking a couple of minutes to clean out the bags upon returning home. Any required uniforms can have their own places established as well. We tend to keep all uniforms together in one basket where they can be easily found, rather than sending them to the children’s rooms. Getting in the habit of preparing all bags, snacks, and uniforms the night before makes leaving so much more pleasant for everyone.

As you establish your plans for your homeschool this year, spend time in prayer, seeking discernment for what would be best for you and each of your children. Also, build in time for each family member to spend daily and weekly time in worship, prayer, and Bible study. Developing these habits in children will encourage a lifetime of seeking the Lord and knowing His Word.

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Malia is an author, home educator of six children ages 5 to 27, a grandmother to two children, an author, and conference speaker. Her primary ministry is encouraging and empowering mothers and home educators to seek God’s Word when facing challenges and encouraging women in their Biblical roles as wives and mothers.