Organizing Your Homeschool: Part One - School Supply Management

I am not a very organized person. But I can't disappoint my kids and their potential futures by allowing my lack of discipline in these matters to affect their education.  So, I have implemented very simple, very actionable methods of keeping everything together for their homeschool year. Maybe you'll find that some of these work for you, too!

The first issue I just had to address is school supplies. If you find that you're constantly interrupting precious learning time looking for or repairing school supplies, these tips are for you!

1. Each kid gets a tub. I usually abhor plastic tubs and bins. They never stay organized, and we end up with a bunch of broken tubs and no lids.  But for the kids' school supplies, there is no other way. Our house is small, and we don't have room for individual cubbies, drawers or desks.  I invest in a very affordable plastic shoe-box for each child, label it with their names and tape an inventory list on the inside of the lid so that they can be accountable for their supplies.

Each year, I give them each their own school supplies, and they are responsible for putting supplies back in at the end of each activity.  At the end of each week, when allowances are paid, we check their supplies against the list on the lids. If supplies are missing, they have to "buy" those supplies back out of their allowance.

2. I buy too many supplies. When school supplies are cheap (like they are right now) we over buy on things like crayons, markers, notebooks, pens, and glue. All of the extras go into a great big 20 gallon tub that we can pull from all year.  We never run out, and it guarantees that we lock in the low prices on supplies so that when the kids find supplies missing at the end of the week (which always happens with at least ONE child), they can purchase them from me at a discount. When a little kid only get $2 a week, you don't want to discourage them by charging a full $1.75 for a pack of markers when they could pay just $99 cents.

3. We limit access to supplies.  Let's get real. My 2-year-old doesn't need more than 2 crayons at his disposal at any time.  My 5-year-old seriously needs 8. The older kids could probably benefit from 4 shades of green, but only in crayons (not in crayons, color pencils, markers, and pastels.) If you are doing special projects that require expensive, special occasion supplies (such as Sharpies or modeling clay), don't let the kids keep them in their possession. Have a special "teacher" supply that comes out only for the special projects and go back in for the next time.

4. Get creative with extras.  Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the supplies end up everywhere. Remember all of those lost supplies that my boys ended up replacing from their allowance? They have to turn up somewhere, right? When cleaning, we usually find them under the couch or in pants pockets. We use these "extras" as community property that anyone can access at any time. We put them in an organizer like this DIY School Supplies Hanging Shoe Holder up high out of the baby's reach. It makes clean up easy when the kids know that any extra scissors go in there.  And, if supplies need to be bought for missing replacements, the kids can purchase from there first.

How do you manage all the school supplies in your homeschool? I wish everything were as easy to corral. Maybe someone can help me do something similar with Legos!