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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Organization Is a Skill To Be Learned     January 26, 2011 

Greetings!Nancy Carter Picture

A.A. Milne once said, "Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up."

 That's what I think is most important about getting organized-keeping things from being all mixed up when you're ready to get to work. Misplaced books and supplies just start the day off on the wrong note, and things can spiral down from there. If you're not naturally organized (and I'm definitely not), try looking at some tips from others for inspiration, see if you can find a buddy who is also wanting to be more organized, and then help and encourage each other. We (and our kids) don't all have to be super-organized in the same way. Some people tend to more naturally be "filers," while others are "pilers." Don't try to be a filer if you aren't one. It's all about learning to find the system that works for you. My Working Together article discusses how women used to do more helping each other than entertaining each other. I know that organizing things is always a lot more fun for me with a friend!

You can see a few of my homeschool organization tips on my blog, and you can find many, many more in the Taming the Chaos column on the HomeschoolBlogger Front Porch.


Enjoy every minute,




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Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

Organization? I am wondering how I can write on a topic that I need to learn some skills in myself!


Looking around my house, I see so many things that are disorganized. From closets to clothes to curriculum-there are so many things that are not in that ideal world called "perfect order."


But if I look at my week thus far, I see why things have been strewn instead of stowed. I see that we have lived life to the fullest, and because of that, we have gotten only the basics of everyday chores done. We have had meals, friends, field trips, family life issues, schoolwork and shopping trips, but no time for all that perfect organization.


There are seasons of life in which disorganization will rule the day. But don't worry, you can take a day off here and there and get things in order when necessary. That's the beauty and flexibility of homeschooling. Here are some organization tips that have helped our little homeschool:


  • Organizing the bookshelves in such a way that the children can find what they need and put it back where it belongs has been a great help. We have shelves dedicated and labeled as History, Classics, Biographies, Science, Bible, and Library Returns. We have lower shelves dedicated to younger children's picture books. I have shelves dedicated to curriculum I am not using right now but saving for the next child. And I have shelves for all the reader series of books (Boxcar Children, Sugar Creek Gang, etc.).
  • I have one heavy-duty plastic school crate for each child (even the 2-year-old) where we keep the workbooks we use every day. The little ones' crates hold their crayons and sticker books, scissors and glue sticks, etc. The older ones also have their Bible, workbooks, readers, answer keys, Wrap-Ups, notebooks, pencils, etc. The crates all line up or stack up nicely.
  • Although we all have chores every day, we also have the bulk of our housecleaning every Friday and Monday. It helps that we have classes here on Friday afternoons, so that makes it a must to be cleaned that day by a certain time. And by the time we get home from church on Sunday, it looks like a hurricane went through again. Ten people coming and going can really do some damage.
  • We live by our calendar. Everything going on in everyone's day must be written on one central calendar or we don't know who's going where and when and things get missed. With three older children going three different directions, and classes and co-ops and field trips for the younger ones, we must keep an accurate calendar.
  • Each child has a daily school/chore chart that he or she has to check off before having any free time. Even when I am sick, the children can show me their chart and get direction. In other words, they can still get their schoolwork and chores done without me when absolutely necessary. To be honest, I have done this almost every year except this year so far. I really need to get organized and print those charts out. Oh, maybe if I write that task on my calendar, it just might get done!

Organization is a skill to be learned, and there are many ways to teach our young ones. And one of these days, I will learn the art myself. I believe that, as I get to know my Father better, I will learn more of His highly organized ways. I do hope to become more like Him in all I do, and I pray the same for my children.


"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." Psalm 18:30


~ Deborah


P.S. Last call for your story on "How the Lord Led Me to Homeschool" -500 words or less. Email me at with your story for possible publication of all or parts of it in our printed magazine or other projects. Please include your name, city, and state. Email submission grants permission for publication. Thank you!




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Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


Okay, let me just begin by saying I don't think people who are born unorganized can learn to be organized. Now instead of writing me, or the editors of this fine publication, condemning me for organizational blasphemy, I'd like to hear from some of you unorganized messies who have turned the corner, changed your spots, and entered the organizational promised land. Can a messy change his/her ways?

Just to be clear, I don't want to hear from you if you were born organized and have fine-tuned your organizational skills or just want to preach the organizational gospel to the choir. I only want to hear from you if you were blind but now you see ( . . . the floor of your bedroom closet).

Got it?

On another note: Husbands of the world need your help. Recently I got a note from a dad whose homeschooling wife has turned as cold as ice. She sleeps in another room, has removed her wedding band, and has pulled out of his life. He wants to win her back but doesn't know what to do. I think he speaks for a lot of husbands out there. He needs your advice. How should he approach a wife who is hurt, bitter, and about to toss in the towel? What should he do and what should he NOT do? How much space should he give his wife (who has asked for a lot) and when should he stand firm?

By the way, this is not just for him but for all of us husbands. There have been times when I know my wife felt some of those hurt feelings . . . and needed me to fight for her. But like most husbands, I just wasn't sure what she needed from me most. I'd love to hear your heart on the matter, and I know many other husbands would as well.

Be real . . . painfully real,




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It's Just Common Sense
Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist
Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant

When Ruth and I talked about this topic, we agreed that we are not as organized as we would like to be, and it is easy to feel badly in homeschooling circles if you are not super-organized. Why not change the focus and teach organization as a thinking skill, instead of just a housekeeping task?  


Over our years of homeschooling, the children put their books, folders, projects, etc., in crates, and every six weeks or so we would take a school day and organize the papers into unit topics, which acted as a great review. The children put any other assignments, such as math or art, in a separate folder or box, or wherever they thought they fit best. The whole process became a thinking activity as the children sorted and filed in the way that best shared what they had learned.


Each day over lunch, we would discuss what we had done and fill out our daily log. I was able to help them see the academic value of many real-life activities this way. When they became high schoolers, they already knew how to record their learning themselves. Don't do all the work yourself and pass up the wonderful opportunity to build the thinking skill of organization.

~ Debbie

Read more from Debbie at


Molly GreenHomeschool Freebies
Molly Green, Econobusters

At Econobusters, we're big on organization. In fact, in 2010 we devoted the entire month of January to the topic of organization in our 31 Days of Organization series. You can see those posts (as well as many that we've added since) here.

If you're looking for some helpful charts and methods for teaching the kids to organize their time in relation to completing chores, this post lists several free chore charts and resources. And this post on S.M.A.R.T. Chores, talks about how to break down chores in a way that allows children to more easily experience success in completing them. And sign up for our free newsletter to receive a free copy of my January Digest where this month's Tightwad Training Camp is an exercise for kids to evaluate their schedules. (You'll receive the download link in your welcome email once you've subscribed).

Happy organizing!

~Molly Green


While every effort is made to ensure that the recommended sites are family-friendly, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and its writers do not own the sites recommended. Content and advertising can change without notice. Please exercise caution when viewing websites and review all websites before allowing your children to visit them.

Calling All Cooks!

As a mom, do you find yourself getting bored with seeing the "same old, same old" on your dining room table? Although it is comforting to know exactly how to prepare those old faithfuls, do you ever wish for something new and different?

Meal preparation is something most of us are responsible for daily, and the TOS team thought it would be fun to include a menu (plus recipes for each entree) in a new column titled Lunchroom! The "same old" to you could be "new and different" to someone else! Therefore, would you share your menu idea with us?

You're not limited to lunch ideas; a simple menu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner would be welcomed enthusiastically. Ideally, we'd love to have an excellent photograph of the prepared dishes or at least one photograph of your favorite dish among the items within the submitted menu, but that is not absolutely essential.

What is absolutely essential is a generous heart (yours) and an investment of 15 to 30 minutes to type up the menu, ingredient lists, and instructions and send them to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's managing editor at this email address We will be waiting eagerly to receive your menus so that all of us can discover fresh ideas for the new year!

Contest Central

January, 2011

For the month of January


Whizizzle Phonics 1-2-3 and 4-5-6


Whizizzle Phonics, from Wiggity Bang Games, LLC, is a fun card game that helps to teach and reinforce phonics to your child. Two different sets are available with three decks of cards per set. Each deck covers a different phonics concept. The first set, 1-2-3, covers short vowels sounds in consonant-vowel-consonant words, long vowel sounds and silent e, and beginning blends. Set two, 4-5-6, covers ending blends, vowel brothers and the y vowel sound, and digraphs. You can buy one set for $12.95 or both for $19.95. 


The game is for 2-8 players, ages 4 and up. Similar in play to UNO, the game involves matching (by sound) a card in your hand to the card that is face up in the discard pile. You can match the beginning, middle, or ending sound of the words. Once you've decided which card to play, you have to say the sound you are matching and the word on the card. There are also action cards, including Draw One, Leap Frog, Turn Around, and Change the Vowel. The person to discard all his cards first wins.


Read the rest of the review here. Win this set for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject, "Whizizzle Phonics" for a chance to win*  these games!


Homestead Blogger
*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the January Contest Central contest running from January 1, 2010, to January 31, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Writer Guidelines
 and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

For a full copy of the Official Rules, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: Official Rules Request, PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615