I am the mother of two teen-aged children. Before they were born, I was a school teacher. When they reached school-age and I began homeschooling, I still had what I call a traditional classroom mentality. I chuckle now when I remember hauling them out of bed bright and early each morning, as if the school bus had just pulled up to the curb. After breakfast, I marched them into our home classroom, which was our back deck that we’d framed out and finished for this purpose.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with homeschooling this way; however, I find I am a little mellower these days. That’s partially because age and experience have a way of mellowing you. In addition, my children are older and they have already developed self-discipline and good work habits. The other part is because our circumstances have changed. About six years ago, I became a single mom. This was not by choice and I continue to pray, even now, for God to bring restoration to my marriage and home. In the meantime, I have been doing my own share of learning. God has taught me a whole lot—like how to pray, how to forgive, how to be patient, and the meaning of unconditional love. God has also let me see a whole lot of Himself and His character. He has continued, time and again, to prove Himself a strong provider; a willing listener; and a compassionate friend.
I had always been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. Once faced with this new reality, I knew that it was going to be necessary for me to find a source of income. I knew that God had put it on my heart to homeschool, so I prayed and asked Him to provide a way for me to be able to continue. Shortly after that, God provided a part-time job working as the Preschool Ministry Coordinator at my church. When the Children’s Minister called me into his office and offered me the job, he led off with, “You can still homeschool. They can bring their work.”
Our homeschool became somewhat mobile. We traded the school desks and classroom for notebooks and backpacks. I let my children pick the ones they wanted. At that time, my daughter wanted a cute one with a puppy and a kitten on the front and my son wanted a Star Wars themed one with a Storm Trooper cover. Their preferences have changed through the years, but we still continue to organize our homeschool much the same way, with the addition of homeschool co-op classes.
Inside each child’s notebook, I placed dividers and labeled them with the subjects my children were taking. Over the weekend, I would tear pages from their consumable workbooks and place the pages for the whole week behind the appropriate tab. In addition, I placed extra notebook paper, tests, worksheets for extra practice, etc. all neatly behind the dividers. If we were not using a workbook type curriculum for a particular subject, I would simply add notebook paper or printed worksheets behind that tab.
I placed a student planner sheet in front of the dividers, so that it was the first thing to be seen when opening the notebook. I would write the assignments my children were to complete each day for that entire week in the boxes. This planning sheet also served as my Teacher Planner, and I found it unnecessary to keep a separate one. My children could easily see what they were expected to do for that week. They knew what to do next if I had to step out of my office at church. They could cross off the subjects as they completed them, which gave them a sense of accomplishment. They could see how much schoolwork they had completed and how much was left to be finished for the day.
I placed stickers inside the front pocket of the notebooks. I would flip through completed work and place a sticker on papers my children worked hard on. This was an exceptionally good motivator when my children were younger. My daughter enjoyed helping me pick out the stickers we would purchase. She loved the scratch-and-sniff kind or the puffy, plastic, or water-filled ones.
I placed a pencil pouch inside each child’s notebook with plenty of pencils, highlighters, colored pencils, a ruler, a protractor, a pencil sharper, and other school supplies. The pencil pouches also contained flashcards, playing cards (for Solitaire or throwing), and other things they could do should they finish their work and need something to occupy their time.
At the very back of each notebook, I placed a trendy pocket folder. This served as a place to put completed tests, reports, or other school-related items such as lapbooks, and multiplication charts.
At the end of the week, I took out all the work behind each tab. I placed the planning sheet on top. I stored all the completed work in a basket labeled “Finished.” I have a basket for each child at home in our “classroom.” Next, I reloaded the notebooks with the following week’s work and filled out another planning sheet for each child.
If circumstances of life have caused you to need to be ready to homeschool on the go, I hope this simple method helps you to see that it is possible. Whether you need to take your children to work with you, or to your doctor’s appointment, or need to do school during a road trip, this is one way we’ve found that keeps our homeschool organized on the go.
Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.