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Homeschool For Me and My House Part 3 – The Tool Box

As I mentioned not too long ago in another post, there is no such thing as being tardy in homeschool. We start when we start. Oddly enough though, our average start time these days is around 8 am. My boys wake me up a little after 7, and since we’ve been pretty good about getting the house clean the night before, there is nothing to do but get dressed and eat.
I guess one sure fire way to make sure something gets done in a timely matter is to not worry about it anymore.
Anyone who has had races to put pillow cases on pillows knows what I am talking about.

What do you mean no one does that?

Oh, you were teasing me weren’t you?

Anyway, we have an enormous great room, we are able to keep the school stuff in the same area that we eat and play. As you can see, we use good old fashioned industrial shelving for our bookcase. I think they were $60 each and we can use them for food storage when we feel like replacing them later on with real bookshelves… but I kind of like how deep they are, so that might wait until my kids graduate. Our books are stacked 3 rows deep!


the three big kids and I each have a $5 bin that I bought at Walmart. They are different colors so they know who’s is who’s.


It’s a simplified version of the workbox system, which to me, seemed like more work than it was worth. In the boxes are their “Explode the Code” books, a box of crayons and any other things that they can easily do on their own without help or explanation from me. They also hold any coloring pages or stories that they are working on. In Spencer’s box, I have a dinosaur coloring book, and a cheap preschool workbook I picked up from Walmart. He’s not old enough to participate much, but he is old enough to want to be included. The yellow one is mine, that is where I keep my record book and papers we’ll use later in the week. I try and keep as little as possible in these boxes, if I stuff them full, then things get lost and forgotten.

If I could buy stock in white 3 ring binders, I would. These have the plastic outer layer where you can slide a paper in the front.

I write on the spines the name and subject with permanent marker, I can wipe it off with rubbing alcohol when I need to change it. In the binders is lined paper for journaling. The girls have one each on english, science, history and math.


At the beginning of the year, I wrote out a plan for the year. This plan consisted of a “perfect generic day from Heaven” schedule (which I have yet to look at since I wrote it) and a list of the sources that I have on hand for the subjects I’ll be teaching this year. The schedule was mostly a jumping off point for when I made this:

This is my big fat white board. To be fair, I could easily have accomplished the same thing with a piece of paper, but I kind of like my big fat white board and I had one on hand… One half is used for the school schedule, the other half is stuff I need to remember that week, grocery lists, plans for dinner, etc.

After a week or two I was able modify the schedule to work for us. For example, I had planned on having each of the girls have a spelling lesson every day. I was especially happy with this plan considering that the spelling lessons reenforced and refined their reading.

But after a week I realized that the spelling lessons were too much to do every day. They took a lot of time so I cut it down to every other day, alternating with another subject that also takes a lot of time. I also realized that three lessons into the first spelling book, Emma was totally lost. So we’re waiting another year before we start her on spelling.

Once we figured out how the schedule would work best, I put the subjects in permanent marker, so that when I make the plan for the next week, all I have to do is erase the lesson number and the subject itself stays on the board. The permanent marker easily comes off with rubbing alcohol.


I have Emma’s work in green (she only does phonics and a math primer). Lucy’s are in blue. The other colors are things that they can do together. Red is subject of the day, which alternates back and forth, purple is religious in nature and the orange book is the book I am reading to them that week. During the subjects that they do together, Emma is free to either participate or not. Usually she and Spencer will run upstairs to play and the

n do a coloring page about it later (though I try my hardest to keep them in the room for scripture stories).


This is an old schedule by the way, I even had to make changes after I used the permanent marker. Proof positive that you have to be flexible.

I don’t have the subjects in any order, I just check them off as we do them. The only thing we consistently do first every day is begin with a prayer, other than that, they do the work in what ever order will keep their interest.

I don’t even limit myself to the day. My biggest concern is that we accomplish as much as we can of the schedule during the week. Sometimes Emma will do more than one math lesson a day, so she doesn’t have to do it the next day if she doesn’t want to. Or if they miss history on Monday, we’ll make it up on another day.

I only plan on having school four days a week. That will give us four days for inside academics, one day for outside stuff (library, zoo, soccer, etc), one day for household chore catch up and one day for worship. The only day we don’t budge on is we always worship on Sundays. We take the other days as they come and move things around as needed.

I PLAN on having school four days, but last week was so productive that we finished almost everything in three. Other weeks we’ll have to do five. Like I said, I play it by ear.


I have to. Otherwise I would loose my mind 🙂

A few other things that I think are essential are:

– a copier. We use our old HP printer/scanner/copier. it’s MUST have if you have more than one child or intend on keeping your materials in pristine condition… as I do.

– a heavy duty three hole punch. Not the $5 kind you can get from Walmart. Spring for a nice one that can do more than three pages at once.

– a kid reading area. We’re real high-tech with our bookcases around here. Those crates are $3 at Walmart as of my last trip there. Stock up while you can! I love how the kids just plop down and look at books for EVER. And they don’t mess with my books in the big bookcase. I’ll be adding a massive pillow to the area in the next week or so.


And a few optional things that I have found extremely helpful are…

A cute baby that looks like this
Other kids that look like this

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