One of my consistent struggles with each year is getting (and staying) organized. I’m embarrassed to admit that many times I could have had a smoother day by having just a hair more organization! At the end of the school year, I sat down and asked myself, what would I need to do in order to make the upcoming school year more organized. I came up with this list, although I started at the second bullet point. The first bullet point is for the random Googlers or anyone new to AO. 😉
- Determine which year you’re working on. AO years don’t necessarily line up with grades, so a child leaving third grade public school will not always go into AO year 3. My flock will move into Year 4 and Year 2, with the three little kids in a “Year 0” type of place. (I use Year 0 as a placeholder for anything that happens before formal schooling – the baby learns to walk, the 2 year old learns how to be apart of the family, the 4 year old does do some academics based on her asking, but it’s always fun and never required. That kind of stuff.)
- Look at the booklist, obtain books. I look at the booklist for each grade and make selections off of that. I also look at substitutions, such as what Celeste does as well as looking at Mater Amabilis for inspiration.
- Print or download the weekly schedule. The weekly schedule simply gives you a framework about what should be done – but it doesn’t have to be followed exactly. You can use the weekly schedule to generate daily schedules, or just use it as a guide.
- Optional: Generate a daily schedule. I generate a daily schedule because I need something spelled out to the absolute basic. I won’t show the kids the daily schedule, but rather post a version of it for them – one that has the subjects listed and how long we are to spend on each subject.
- Download and print the art study prints. Costco does dirt-cheap printing. $1.49 for an 8×10? Yes please! If you follow the AO links you can go to the images (which are in the public domain).
- Purchase, download, or curate your music lists. Honestly, most of the composer, hymn, and folk songs are streamable via Spotify, Youtube, Amazon Prime Music – but you can definitely get the CDs as well. Many AO users will curate Spotify playlists and share them freely. I also like to browse Traditional Catholic Living to include more Catholic hymns in our homeschool.
- Visit the forum and download the maps, etc for each year. In the forum, the grades are groups by forms. Each form as a subforum, which contains a thread of helps for each year. Visit the thread for the years you’re going to use and you can find all the maps and other helps that AO users have accumulated through the years that you can use. You can also use the forum to ask questions, find local AO users, and just hang out with people who use AO (or at least inspired by it). Joining and using the forum is free, even! It’s a goldmine of information and in my opinion, one of the most underutilized aspects of AO.
- Get your e-books ready. Some books I don’t have a hard copy of, so I like to load up the digital copies on to the Kindle (or Kindle web app, as it may be). I also make bookmarks such as the term’s poetry studies so I can just open a tab in the browser and go from there.
Anything that has been printed goes into the Mom Binder, which keeps everything straight. I have a Year 4 section, with all the copywork ideas from the Yahoo groups, maps from the forums, the daily schedule, the booklist, etc; a Year 2 section that’s similar; a spot for extra materials such as notes I’ve made for implementing Living Math, scaffolding ideas, exam ideas, and so on.
The kids will each get a binder that will have the map they’re currently studying, copywork that is currently taking place, a generic schedule that I talked about above, and whatever else we decide needs to go in there as the year progresses on.
And that’s pretty much what I’ve done since we finished our previous school year. My goal for the summer time was to get everything in order so that when we begin the next grade; it’s all there and waiting. I’ve decided on a rolling start to the school year, so that I’m not instantly overwhelmed by starting two kids in two years at the same time while trying to kid-wrangle and ensure the younger three aren’t turning into a Lord of the Flies type scenario.
Hopefully this helps me stay more organized this year, as I’m just getting too old for “seat of the pants” type lifestyle (all you who can though, you stay awesome!).