Simple Organizational Systems for Homeschoolers

Here’s the question driving this episode today: What are the best organizational systems for homeschoolers to help you stay organized while keeping it simple, inspiring, and doable?

You know we’re all about keeping things simple around here. In fact, our tagline at Art of Homeschooling is “simple, inspiring, and doable.”

In this podcast episode, I’ll offer you a variety of systems you might consider using to help you plan, stay on track, and record the learning.

And feel free to take a few of these ideas to tweak the organizational system you already have. 

I can assure you of one thing, having a simple organizational system that doesn’t take too much time or energy to set up or maintain can make all the difference in sustaining your motivation for homeschooling.

Paper or Digital?

Let’s start off by considering the options of paper or digital. Are you a pen and paper planner? Or do you prefer digital systems to keep you on track?

You might even like a hybrid system that has elements of both.

For me, I’m a pen and paper planner. Even today, I plan my week in a paper planner and I love all the colored pens, stickers, and washi tape. But if that’s not you, that’s totally ok. You do you!

My goal in this episode is to help you think through what your system might look like.

So, here are our two main frameworks for a planning system.

#1: If you prefer paper and pen, option one is…

Binder or Notebook + Bin/Basket

You could use a…

  • Binder
  • Spiral notebook
  • Blank sketch book
  • Plus a bin or basket for your books and teaching resources

#2: And if you prefer planning and working online, option two is…

Online Tool + Bin/Basket 

Here are some ideas for online tools:

  • Google folder
  • Project management tool like Trello
  • Your own private FB group
  • Plus a bin or basket for your books and teaching resources

How I Found My Perfect Homeschool Organizational System

My personal favorite system is the Binder + a Bin for my books and resources. Not only for planning, but also to keep a record of completed work and accomplishments.

Here’s a snapshot of homeschooling at our house.

Keep in mind, our homeschooling journey started over thirty years ago! Digital tools weren’t really a thing. But I still think I’d choose the binder/bin system over an online project management system today.

During my first years as a homeschooler, I was so excited to ditch the gigantic curriculum binder I’d used as a public school teacher. Teaching in the public schools, we had a huge curriculum binder we needed to work from.

AND we had to submit weekly lesson plans complete with goals and objectives for all of our classes. That meant lots of working at home over the weekend and many late Sunday nights. 

When we started on our homeschooling journey, I was overjoyed to let go of making formal lesson plans!

But pretty soon, I realized I needed SOMETHING as a starting point for our lessons.

Not having any plan often led to a slow start each day as I’d just grab a little pack of sticky notes and jot down my ideas at the last minute. It was quite disorganized and overwhelming!

Pretty soon, I realized that I needed an organizational system for my plans, ideas, and resources. Even if I wasn’t writing formal lesson plans like I had as a classroom teacher.

What I had on hand was a 3-ring binder and a set of dividers. I labeled the dividers with the months of the year, September through May (skipping December because I only had eight dividers!).

I loved the simplicity of planning one main lesson topic per month!

Next, I created a simple grid for the week in a Word document ~ like a planning template ~ and printed those out for each week.

And voila! I could start filling in my ideas and plans for the coming week and beyond. This gave me direction and a designated place for notes about what we did that day and ideas for what we might want to do in the future.

More Ideas for Your Pen & Paper Planning

If you aren’t into binders, you could use a blank sketch book or even a simple spiral notebook divided into months. And if you have more than one child, you could color code the planning sheets or have two sets of dividers.

Those original planning sheets that I created were the seed idea for our Art of Homeschooling’s Holistic Planning Pack. This is a set of 14 planning templates for homeschoolers to help you create your own simple organizational system. You can print out beautiful, colorful watercolor templates to plan an overview of main lesson block topics for the year, plan goals for each block, and plan your week.

More About Digital Organizational Systems

If you’re more of a digital person, you could create something similar to a homeschooling binder and planning templates with online tools like a Google folder on your laptop, a project management tool like Trello, or even by creating your own private FB group.

And if you want to use our Holistic Planning Pack digitally, there are editable online versions of each of the templates too.

Advantages of a Simple Organizational System

In addition to planning ahead, a homeschool organizational system like this can also help you keep track of the learning. So even when you don’t have extensive notes on what you’ll be doing next week, all you need is an overarching goal and some resources. Then at the end of each day, you can record what you did in your binder or online. 

This is formally known as backward curriculum design where you identify the desired goal and then gather evidence of learning. We even have a template in the Holistic Planning Pack that’s a favorite called The Learning That Happened This Week which provides a place to record all the activities and “aha” moments experienced in your homeschool.

I find that most homeschoolers use a combination of planning ahead and backward design.

A Basket for Each Child

All of these ideas for simple organizational systems not only apply to the homeschooling parent but can be mirrored in a set up for each of your children.

Each child can have a basket of supplies that they’re responsible for getting out every day. And a box for their main lesson books, independent readers, and other reference material. And as they get older, you can create a binder for each of them or set up a clipboard with checklists for each child.

Customization & Creativity

You can customize your organizational systems so that they work for you and your family. Whatever you do, just remember to keep your systems simple. 

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” 

~ charles mingus, american jazz musician

Rate & Review the Podcast

If the Art of Homeschooling Podcast has inspired you, I’d LOVE it if you could rate and review the podcast on your favorite podcast player! Reviews can be left on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Podcast Addict, or Stitcher.

Or simply pop on over to and choose where you want to leave your review.

And if you want to show your appreciation for the Art of Homeschooling Podcast, you can buy me a coffee!

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