Classroom Set-Up: Back to Relaxed Mormon Homeschool

It is that time of year again. School teachers and Homeschool moms are very busy right now. It is time to plan for the upcoming academic year of 2017-18. It will be another new and exciting academic year for all of us. It is a very exciting time of year. It is a time to start fresh and look forward to newness and think of how things will be different this year. There is always a hope that each year will be better, easier. There is a great aspiration to have a better set-up which will make finding things easier, which will make us able to do things we do repeatedly and often, more efficiently, and which will make everyone feel in the mood to enjoy togetherness, make friends (or become closer as a family), learn and do school work.


I am well aware that public school and charter school teachers are getting ready as well as homeschool moms like me. My parents were public school teachers until they retired, and I know they were starting to prepare for the new academic year at this time. In my local school district, the first teacher contract day is in a week and a day. Generally, my mom and dad worked at least 3-4 days not on their contract, before the school year began. It is likely that this coming Monday, many Weber County School District teachers will show up at their school, unlock their classroom which has rested from teacher eyes all summer, and will sigh, stare at the walls and cabinets and wonder where they will start in setting up their classrooms.


I remember all those years helping my mom and dad set up. Even for me, as a child and as an adult, it was exciting. I loved making sure all the new pencils were sharpened, and that every desk had a name label, a spelling book, a math book, a science book, a language arts book and a social studies book, along with a new pencil, a new ruler and a new box of pencils. Now I am a homeschool mom teaching my large family of children preschool through tenth this year. I have purchased many school supplies. I have yet to purchase more needed supplies, but for the most part, I have the supplies. We have one table in the homsechool room, so I do not set books there or put name labels on for the kids. I put books and supplies in the homeschool cabinets, lined up and organized nicely, ready for what we will be studying this year.


I have switched out the science focus. Although I hired out for science, I have science books in the homeschool room for when I say that today, I want them to pick a non-fiction science, geography or history book and read it, or when, for language arts, I want them to use non-fiction books to do a research report.


When my public school teacher parents were getting ready for the new year, there was much de-junking and organizing. There wasn’t recycling. They only had garbage cans, but much went into the trash. My homeschool room has to be newly de-junked and papers filed and put away or recycled. I have one full box of school papers my mom gave me and one full blue bin of papers I put in the bin from all the years of homeschooling combined. I have to go through them. Don Aslett called it “the paper tiger” in his book about de-cluttering the office. A homeschool room is very much like an office, but we do have a separate room for the office.  It is needed for my homeschool file cabinet, homeschool workbooks I photocopy, my computer and pur 4-in-1 machine which photocopies, scans and prints. 


I am also making plans for creating more for other teachers to use in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. All of you who are reading this and who have created any tool for a teacher to use (public school teachers, charter school teachers and homeschool teachers) may wish to open a Teachers Pay Teachers store and sell the tools they have made. You can sign up here. It is free to start, (although you will make more money per item if you have a paid annual plan).


Teachers pay teachers referral link

Kayse Morris: Teachers Pay Teachers, for beginners (How to make it look good so it will 

Just make what you need for your own family or classroom 

Suggested Blogposts:

Whole House Home Ed Organization

Homeschool Dailies
LDS Homeschooling
Transgenderism and Homosexuality in Utah Schools Starting with 2017-18
Humanism is a Religion

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Making Space for a Better Homeschool

I can promise you, I am not the homeschool mom some people think I am. “I don’t know how you do it!” I hear. “You are so amazing that you can do that!” I hear. No, I am not amazing, and, I will tell you JUST how I do it. I take it one week and one day at a time. Some days, life turns out much like this photo below. We cleaned this up in 2 hours and these 2 rooms were spotless. Sometimes, this happens a couple times a week. Really. But we clean it up. This photo just shows you what I had to endure, in order to de-junk the storage room while being a homeschool mom, with all kids here and ready to do whatever they want all day long, while I work to clean the place to make homeschooling work more efficiently.

I am not amazing. I am only human. I cannot do more than what other mothers can do, and some days look like the photo, because of it. The good thing is, that photo is in the past. Thank goodness it is! I am hoping it never happens again. That’s silly, though, because even if THAT doesn’t, maybe the toilet will overflow again, like it did this week, because the younger kids use too much toilet paper. Who knows!? Homeschooling means I don’t have a head custodian, a cook, a janitor, and people to clean up the floor and table after school lunch, while the kids go out to recess. Homeschooling means I am the cook and the janitor and the custodian and the teacher and the one who cleans the table and floor after lunch. At least, I am in charge of it, anyway. Occasionally, I am just amazing enough, that I can get one or 2 kids to help me, which is nice. Also, I am very glad, my husband helps a lot with the housecleaning. He is the designated laundry person, and this past weekend, he washed all the dishes that have to be washed by hand, not in the dishwasher. He also helped me with all the heavy lifting of the clothing bins from the storage room I had to sort through!

Again, this photo is from last week. This occurred because I was downstairs sorting through clothes from the storage room, trying to make our house more spacious. I had decided that I need more space for my homeschool, and less clutter to clean up! Clutter and lack of space because of clutter, can really damage a homeschool. I just know that when I am finished with this, our homeschool will go much more smoothly. Here are a few reasons why:

1) I won’t have to search as much to find what I need for the next day. I’ll be able to quickly grab something from each subject, which each child needs to learn next, and place it in the “for tomorrow” file in the file cabinet, because my file cabinet is slightly more organized than it was yesterday.

2) I now have more space in the office, and the books I don’t need cluttering it up, are in the storage room now, instead of all over the office, taking up tons of space. Some of the boxes had my personal and our household books, in them. Some had school books not needed for this school year, in them. I want the office to be especially made to a) prep. for homeschool for this year only, b) help me get my graphic design stuff done efficiently, and c) help that household office tasks get done efficiently. My office is closer to its perfection, which I have in my head.

3) I was able to finally put all of those boxes of books, from the office, into the storage! Before, I wasn’t able to, because not only was there no shelf space in there, but there was so little floor space, that the bags of stuff were coming out through the doorway and into the hallway. A person had to step on the bags, hoping not to twist an ankle, to get into the storage room, even just to grab toilet paper! Now, there is a clear side aisle to walk in safely and there are 2 mostly clear aisles to the left of it, to walk down to get what we need. It’s great!

I know. You likely do not see a connection between homeschooling and the storage room. I do. My office is more spacious, and we can grab what we need faster, and without getting injured. It saves us a lot of time, day in and day out. After all, we have to get toilet paper during the school day, sometimes, and sometimes, we have to go get food. Sometimes, we have to go and quickly find the winter clothing, because it has snowed, and we have to get out, as soon as it does, and play in it! That is one of the luxuries of homeschool that we can enjoy faster and with less frustration now! Yay!

I got so much de-junking of clutter done this week, that early in the evening, I was enthused about homeschooling again. I have not felt that way for a couple weeks, at least. I printed a ton of worksheets and immediately filed them away. I am so excited to fill up the day boxes again and go at it! I love what de-junking can do! It frees up enthusiasm, time, and space!

Look at the lovely fall leaves on the bushes, and ignore the rest! Ha ha! Really, this looked lovely when it was clean 2 hours later. I even mopped the floor! It looked amazingly beautiful! It was a lot of work, though! I think homeschool moms do a lot of housework. After I get my house all de-junked and it has a lot fewer things in it, and more open space, I will work on teaching my kids to clean, and also, to not make messes like this one!

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Housecleaning is Part of Homeschooling

     I write this because I think it is important that people know about my homeschool. My homeschool does not begin after or end before, housecleaning. My homeschool day for the kids includes housecleaning.

     Housecleaning is a skill I want my kids to have, right now (not later, when they get older). Beyond health and grooming, it is a very required element in being able to lead a normal life. If my children do well in academia but cannot keep house, I am a sad woman. This cannot be. 

     Having developed my own curriculum, I have made sure that housecleaning has a very prominent role. My kids, my husband and many others, may not consider this aspect to be part of homeschooling, learning or a good education, but I do. I know this will offend a lot of people, but, in fact, I think it is more important than each of these individually, as well as all of them collectively:

-Math

-Language Arts

-Science

-The Arts

-P.E.

-Social Studies

     Maria Montessori made housecleaning skills, part of the “practical life” portion of her curriculum. This shows that not all who made scientific studies about education, left housecleaning out. Her goal was to prove that children with mental disabilities, if taught in a respectful way with choices for the children, and through repetition, the kids could learn these things and lead normal lives. She knew that housecleaning was part of becoming an independent person who could care for him or herself. “Practical Life” is in the foundation of the Montessori Method.

     Here are some reasons why housecleaning should be placed above, the academic subjects mentioned above.

-Math: Do the math here.

a) Hiring a maid could cost upwards of $800 a month, where I live. This includes little more than the basics. How much money could you save in 12 months, without this cost?

b) Not hiring a maid will require you to spend more on going out to eat, buy ready- made foods, and you’d still have to clean a lot. These food expenditures could cost the average family upwards of $400 a month. How much could you save in a year without that expense?

-Language Arts:

Do you enjoy reading or writing, with a mess all around you? Do you enjoy them on an empty belly, which you have because just looking in the kitchen, you cannot see how making a meal could be possible? How many more books would you be able to fit in your house, were it cleaner? How much more time would you have to read & write, were it cleaner?

-Science:

Science experiments in that messy kitchen? No way! Looking in the microscope on that messy table? Not possible. Feel guilt free going to the museum for a field trip with a house in that state? No, thanks!

-History:

How can you stand to read about all the hard work they did, when you and yours, are so lazy! What would they think of you? Would they just be proud, because you are so good at academia? I think not!

-The Arts:

Ah, Beethoven. How can you not clean when you hear that and see the state of your house? Composing music, unable to hear. What a determined man. Do you think such a determined man knew how to sweep and wash a table?

Monet. All day long, 6 a.m., new canvas: cathedral; 7 a.m., new canvas, cathedral; 8 a.m., new canvas: cathedral. He’d best eat lunch sometime. Perhaps a clean house would help. Barely able to put food on the table in his beginnings, and with a wife who was ill, I am betting he knew how to clean house.

Shakespeare. Can you imagine no Shakespeare because: “Arghh! Where did I put that manuscript? This is so frustrating! I lose everything in this mess! Oh! It has food spilt all over it because I left it out with the food and a cat came and spilt it. I am so mad! And I have forgotten what I wrote! It will not come again. I know it. Oh, forget it. I’d best go work at the lumber mill. I need to eat, after all!”

Dance: Time to pick a dance teacher for your kids. Let’s go pick one with a studio floor, covered in dust and overrun with junk!

-P.E.:

Ope, too bad. No playing catch. Can’t find your mitt and ball. Maybe the soccer ball. Oh, can’t find that, either. Let’s go running. Can’t find your running shoes? Arghh! Oh, well. Let’s just do an aerobics DVD! We know where the T.V. is! What? We have to have a space cleared to move around on the floor? Ah, forget it. Let’s just watch T.V.

     I hope that helps you to see why I feel that housecleaning is much more important than all of those subjects. So when you ask me when are we going to start our homeschool day, while we are cleaning, I will remind you about this post.

Whole House Homeschool Organization

I have surfed pinterest and the rest of the internet, and have found there is no organization system even close to mine, so I thought I’d have to post this to make my system pinterest-able and known by others.

Some home ed moms only have 1 or 2 kids. The same organization system they use, would not work for me, since I have so many different ages and so much less space in my small house. I don’t have a spare room to turn into a “homeschool room,” so we use many parts of the house.

We use the dining room table to do a lot of it. We have a very large white board (non-magnetic) in there.

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We have a small bookshelf and a portable cupboard for organization in the living room, along with a soft chair & 2 soft couches (none which match another) and a piano, which we also use for home ed. That cupboard hosts our day boxes, with each child’s name on his or her own box. It has 2 plastic drawer caddies with a subject name on each.  It hosts dictionaries and textbooks. It hosts plastic bins for art supplies, school supplies, creme divider folders, paper, notebooks, construction paper, etc. In the kitchen, we have another homeschool cupboard, which I plan to use mainly for learning games and Montessori items.

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I have the “cutesy” school calendar downstairs in the den. (“Cutesy” is a word my elementary school teacher dad used to describe how the female teachers’ rooms. I looked.) Also in the den, I have 3 6 ft. tall bookshelves with book organizers from “Really Good Stuff” on them, which I highly recommend. These keep books separated by category, i.e.: Human Biology, Animal Biology, Plant Biology, (child’s name)’s Reading books (a few of these), U.S. History to 1849, U.S, History 1850 +, Geography, Art History, Math, Language Arts, etc.

I then have the office, which has a 6 ft. tall bookshelf, a computer and computer desk to ceiling, and a 5 drawer filing cabinet. It also has a desk, a tall craft caddy, a short and stout craft caddy, a black table, and a 4 shelf thing, loaded with printer paper, cardstock paper, construction paper, 2 pocket folders, 3 hole wide and college ruled paper, drawing paper, binders and spiral notebooks.
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The upstairs bathroom and the shower downstairs don’t fail us, either. They have our spelling lists, calendars and learning schedule, math challenge, spiritual thought, etc., inside plastic sheet protectors.

Homeschooling & De-Junking the books (or de-cluttering the bookshelves)

Some people believe that all books should be kept. Especially if the household home educates. I am not sure where I fit in.

On one hand, books are a necessary part of educating myself and the kids, so they have to be around. On the other hand, I am a Don Aslett De-Junker, who loves to create more space. Space is amazing, and it is something we pay good money for. If you go to a real estate site and look at how much more valuable, houses with more square footage, including the garage, are, you’ll agree. Space is valuable, and houses are listed for $1,000 more, over time, with interest, for 5 more square feet of home.

So call me crazy, but, this home educating mom is prepping for the next local curriculum sale not by saving money, but by gathering books to sell. This is a mom who is fed up with the lack of space.

Truth be told, it is space I’ve had for the past 3 months, when these books have been in taped up boxes, while we’ve been trying to sell this house, so that we can pay $70,000 more than what ours would sell for, to get another 500 to 1,000 square feet to put more books into.

I loved not having as many books to sift through these past 3 months. Now that I have opened the boxes, I am thinking “AHHHHH! I can’t do this! Free me from the prison of junky books!” Because of this, I am rethinking this. Which books will we really use in the next 5 years? Which do I dream the kids will use, but know in my heart, they won’t? Which do I know we won’t use within 5 years?

Some, I will not use in the coming year. I will use them the following year or in some future year. We focused on biology this year. That means I can put away the biology books and get out the books for next year’s science focus: Space, Earth and Physical Science. This sounds  crazy to some home ed moms, who would rather I left all science out. However, I am me, and this is MY HOUSE, and I will do what I want. Not a great argument? Well, it has to be good enough and I have to stop fretting over what the other home ed moms think and be myself.

For me, it will be liberating. I have to eat lunch, though. I have been sifting books a lot today and I am shaky. I need nutrition. I have fresh broccoli and fresh mushrooms upstairs, calling to me.