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When I started homeschooling for the first time, I remember how excited I was to be taking this journey. I had set up this awesome classroom and ordered the best curriculum I could find. I was ready to kick off homeschooling with a BANG! Then I unboxed the curriculum...
"You'd be amazed at how much stress is alleviated and how much smoother your school year goes when you take the time to organize and plan ahead! "
Using a file box seemed like the most logical plan of attack. I know, how administrative of me, but let me tell you, it works! We've been using the file box system for 3 years now and it hasn't failed us yet. Not only that, but it has made it easier for me to plan out our lessons ahead of time.
I now have all of our lesson plans planned out for the entire year before school even starts. You'd be amazed at how much stress is alleviated and how much smoother your school year goes when you take the time to organize and plan ahead!
What You Need:
One of the things I love about this system is you only have to set it up once! Initially creating your file box will take extra time, but once you've got it all set up, your good to go for the school years to follow! You may have to add a folder here and there but your overall prep time will significantly decrease in subsequent years. Trust me when I tell you, it's totally worth taking the extra time to get it started!
"One of the things I love about this system is you only have to set it up once!"
I set up this file system my daughter's kindergarten year and have been using it ever since. So, as you can see, I have all of the tabs and folders already labeled. I used a label maker to label them but it's not absolutely necessary. I just like how clean and organized it looks =)
Quick ProTip: Make it a mini planning party! (Hello Pizza!)
Step 1: Create Weekly Folders
If you're starting your file system for the first time, you're going to want to make 1 file folder for each week you'll be instructing. Our school year typically has 38 weeks so I created 38 weekly folders labeled week 1 - week 38. I also included an extra folder for games and posters that came with our curriculum.
Step 2: Create Sub Folders for each Lesson
I chose to label our sub folders by lesson number because our curriculum is broken up that way. It also allows for more flexibility in the event that life happens (which it will!) This is why I DO NOT designate lessons to any specific date! Some weeks we have only 4 days of instruction due to holidays or breaks.
Breaking them up by lesson numbers (as oppose to dates) gives me the freedom to move the lessons around as needed without throwing off an entire year of planning. This is very important! There's nothing more stressful than having one sick day throw off all of your carefully planned out work.
Our curriculum is broken up into 170 lessons for the school year. So I created 170 manila folders labeled Lesson 1 - Lesson 170. Again, I used a label maker but you could just as easily write them by hand!
Step 3: Separate Curriculum by Subject
Now the fun part! Ok, let me be completely honest here. If your curriculum comes in bound books like our does, this part can be kind of tedious but I PROMISE you it's totally worth it! It'll ultimately save you a ton of time and stress!
I remove the pages from each book by subject. Ours comes perforated and in order so that makes it much easier. I just tear out the pages and stack them by subject. Make sure to keep them in order!
Line them up like an assembly line. If you know the order you'll be instructing each subject in, you can line them up according to your schedule. Our schedule varies from week to week (I do this to keep things fresh!) so I didn't line mine in any particular order.
Step 4: File Lesson Folders Into Weekly Folders
Before you file away your curriculum pages, you'll want to file your lesson folders into the appropriate weekly folder. I do this by following the yearly school schedule provided by the district. It tells me which days have holidays and breaks. This helps me to file our lesson plans as accurately as possible.
Week 1 will obviously be the first week of school. Our first week only had 4 days of instruction since we started on a Tuesday. So week 1's folder only had 4 Lesson folders.
In the event that something comes up and we miss a couple days, we simply pick up in the week we left off. This year we're expecting baby #5 just 2 weeks after school starts! So say I go into labor after week 2, we would begin again in week 3 after taking time to adjust to baby. No stress, no toil!
Step 5: File Lesson Sheets Into Lesson Folders
Once you reach this step, it should go relatively quickly. I simply gather up all the lesson sheets for each lesson folder and stuff em in their corresponding folder! Some sheets had different lesson numbers on the front and back. So, if you have folders without a phonics or math page for that lesson, it's most likely on the back side of another sheet. I just file them back into the appropriate folder after completing the front side.
Step 6: Sit Back & Relax...You're Done!
Your box should look something like this once it's complete. Just sit back and marvel at the fact that you just organized a years worth of work!
See It In Action!
This is what our file box looks like when in use! I have a corner specifically designated for my teaching materials and that's where I store the file box.
See the open binder on top of the printer? Yes, that one! That piece is just as important. So, keep an eye out for my next post because I'm going to show you how I organize my lesson planner. I'll also show you how I use it in tandem with our file system for super optimal organization! Spoil Alert: There will be a GIVEAWAY!
The iron file rack you see above it is what I use to display the current weeks lesson folders and keep them easily accessible. I store my instruction books in the shelf below it, again, for easy accessibility. Having everything in one centralized location makes our homeschool days run SO much smoother! I can access everything I need easily without having to search for what I need. Easy peasy!
"The level of organization and ease of access has taken an otherwise tedious journey and allowed us to enjoy our homeschooling the way it should be enjoyed...stress free!"
And that's how I organize a full year of lesson plans in 6 easy steps! Like I said, the time you invest setting up this system will pay for itself in the time and stress you save while school is in session. This system has been so successful for me that I absolutely will not do it any other way. The level of organization and ease of access has taken an otherwise tedious journey and allowed us to enjoy our homeschooling the way it should be enjoyed...stress free!
Keep an eye out for my next post. I'll be showing you how I organize my new homeschool lesson planner...Oh, did I mention a special GIVEAWAY?!
Until Then, Blessings to You!
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Hi there! My name is Brittany...helpmeet to T.J. and homeschooling mom to 5 little blessings. Memoirs Of A Good Thing is a ministry that is cultivating encouragement, support, and faith through the testimonies of women! Read more about my journey and the Memoirs of a Good Thing ministry here!