A common question homeschooling families get is how to stay organized. I did mention some systems to stay organized in a previous post, but I thought I’d share my own home binder. In sha Allah it helps give ideas for what will work for you – if a binder is going to work at all.
First, please forgive me for the phone pictures – the one digital camera we have actually isn’t any better, and unless I can find a nice digital camera for under $50, the phone is going to be the best thing we have for quite a while, alhamdulilah.
All right, in the beginning (hehe) there was the cover!
On the cover I have the general daily schedule (this is originally created on a Mac, so let me know if the .xls version is not working or looking funky). This is my ideal schedule, and what my perfect day would look like. Honestly, most days don’t look exactly like this, but I have it in mind throughout the day. As time goes on, I continue implementing more items, like the small clutter clean up times is new as of this year.
This is just a pen holder, and holds the hole punch reinforcers. I use the wet erase markers for the menu plan (two pics ahead). I try to have a regular pen in here, but people keep stealing it! 🙂
We start with the basic home management section
I hold all my coupons in this pocket folder, next to the menu plan. I used to coupon a lot more with a full coupon binder, but found it was just another thing to do, and something had to go. I still keep restaurant, gas, and grocery store coupons here. Thanks to the 52 Week Challenge, I started keeping them here instead of stacked up on the kitchen counter!
One of the two pages of the menu plan. Both pages are identical so I can plan out a full two weeks of dinners. I do not plan breakfast or lunches and instead just pick up typical items for my family to make for themselves. I just found a menu plan online (there are many) and put it in a sheet protector. I then use wet erase markers, since they smudge less, to put in the meals. As I write out each meal I write in the grocery shopping list what I need to buy. Since we only eat halal meat, I have the meat at the bottom on a different list because it’s a different store. When it comes time to head to the store, I just take a picture of the shopping list (no paper! yay!).
This second picture is just a monthly calendar. I use this during Ramadan to plan out the menu for the whole month. I want to plan the month while I’m not fasting. I think too often people end up focusing on iftar (breaking of the fast) during Ramadan. I want that to be good and nutritious, but not the highlight of my day.
If you click on the first menu plan picture you can see more details. I put the location of the recipe (AR = allrecipes.com, the mecca of recipe searches) at the bottom. Sometimes I’ll also write in things to remember, like if I have a meeting and won’t be making dinner myself. Whew, that was a lot about the menu plan!
Here’s a printout of the monthly calendar for the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. I have the current month showing in the sheet protector, and all the other months are just behind the current month in the same sheet protector.
I have a master to do list still in the binder, though it is out of date. I have a “people to contact” list also on the page before this. Notice, there are hold reinforcers on these pages since they don’t go in sheet protectors and this way they don’t rip out easily.
I’m using Google Tasks right now with GTasks on my phone to work through my To Do list and seeing how that works. So far so good! Until it’s a proven system though, I’ll keep my paper to do list as a back up.
Here’s a picture of Little Miss because with every picture I was taking of the binder, she would say, “Cheese!” I had to let her have a bit of the spotlight. 🙂 MashaAllah, she’s such a cutie, if I do say so myself.
Yearly cleaning calendar. This is pretty new to me so it’s still a major work in progress (thus quite empty). I keep telling Hubby I’ll have all this wife business figured out when I’m about 80. Until then, I’m appreciative of how forgiving he is.
I keep business cards in a sheet protector with sleeves made for business cards. You can get these super cheap on amazon.com! I have contractors, the carpet cleaner, Muslim owned auto repair shops, cards from mystery shops I’ve completed, etc. I don’t like putting all these contacts in my phone if I may only call them every couple years.
On to the homeschool section!
I keep attendance for my own records on a 15 month calendar. I just mark the days we take off, and for now that’s all I really need since our state doesn’t require it. It’s good to keep record though so you know just how much time it has been since you’ve given yourself a break, or how much time you had to take off for a family emergency.
We print off the weekly planner from donnayoung.org (LOVE this website for organizational stuff!) each week and Care Bear writes in the assignments for each day. I used to do this, but it seems Care Bear takes more responsibility for her work if she writes it herself.
Some subjects are best to plan out many weeks at a time. I have the semester planner printed out from donnayoung.org for subjects, like History, where this is beneficial. This way if I want to use a specific book from the library for a certain week, I have that listed here. (This image is clickable to make it bigger)
I keep community ed, YMCA, zoo, or other resource calendars and brochures in the next pocketed divider. This used to sit on our counter also, but the home binder seemed a perfect place to keep it all!
On the other side of the pocketed divider, I’m keeping “to do” items. I need to cut these up and laminate them before I want to use them with Little Miss.
Here I have the preschool planner you can download (click on image for full size)! I keep two full weeks of this planned out so depending on how the day pans out, I have quite a few activities and ideas to pull from that follow a general theme. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Little Miss is homeschooled, but instead I watch for opportunities and peaks in curiosity and have activities queued up to use with her.
Lastly, I have extras of many printable pages in the back in sheet protectors. I have gathered many of these printables from various places on the Internet, so I just have an extra copy ready at all times instead of trying to find all the items online when I need more. Two things I have in the back but haven’t used yet are a unit studies planner and a field trip log. I imagine these will come more in handy for elementary homeschooling than it has for later middle school homeschool.
The binder has been a work in progress for about a year now, and I’m finding the more I use it, the better I feel about how our days pan out. This works for us, but it might not work for everyone. Still, I hope this helps!