It begins to creep in slowly and then seems to overtake you--stacks of books, math manipulatives in the bathtub, colored pencils in the silverware drawer. And the papers...ALL of the papers. Your kitchen begins to look like a mad scientist invaded it and you can't find the door to the fridge because of the layers of Art Projects and A+++ reports on "Birds of Prey." (Thank heavens they outgrew that topic!)
If you are realizing it's time for all out warfare on the Homeschool House Invasion, you may be looking for some ideas on where to begin and how to reclaim your house.
1. Shelves, Boxes and Bins--Organize flashcards in shoeboxes (the clear, plastic ones are wonderful) and cut up subject dividers to keep them separate. Keep large containers with lids for crayons, pencils, stickers and other items. This allows for quick cleanup. A box or milkcrate for each child makes transporting to another room or location handy and keeps everything together.
2. Keep a "return" bin handy for books and videos that need to be returned to the library or school.
3. Consider putting up a large bulletin board for papers and clearing the board at the beginning of each month. Keeping a bulletin board in each child's room also gives them a place to hang the real "masterpieces."
4. Find a closet or set of cupboards that you can devote entirely to school materials. Lots of shelves are great for organizing and stacking. Putting all your homeschool materials away at the end of the week forces you to keep on top of the piles that easily build up.
5. Keep on top of housework by assigning chores. Spending a half hour making beds and picking up before school makes a huge difference. Even the youngest can empty a small garbage can or feed a pet.
6. Make children clean up in small spurts during the day so you don't end up with an enormous mess at the end of the day. Allow kids a break between lessons but only after they clean something up. (Sure it's a bribe but it works!)
7. Buy a small, 10x12, whiteboard for each child to keep the paper buildup down. Kids love them and they are great to work math problems on or practice a new cursive letter.
8. Invest in an inexpensive three-hole punch that makes any paper fit into a binder. Make it your child's responsibility to get papers into his notebook.
A homeschool house gets a lot of use and a real "lived-in" look. Many veteran homeschoolers have learned that you may just have to lower your housekeeping standards a little. Face it, if you choose to homeschool you will probably not end up featured on the cover of Martha Stewart Living. However, you will have embarked down an adventure with your children that they will never forget. In the end, your children will probably not remember how clean your house was, but they will remember that you were the only house on the block that had a chemistry lab in the kitchen and a mom or dad more powerful than Bill Nye the Science Guy.