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What Should I Do With All These Books?? ~ Part 1

So here you are, busy homeschooling mother, smack dab in the middle of the month of April. Pat yourself on the back, treat yourself to a latte, buy yourself a new pair of shoes - in some way celebrate the fact that you're nearing the end of the school year!!

It's a milestone, and it's important to recognize milestone moments in our lives. April is the month when we really begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids are finishing up some of their work, and moms are able to look back over the year and see how far everyone has come. By May, many homeschool families have put away all things "homeschool" and are moving full-speed-ahead into summer.

But hold up there for a, what about all those books?

Should you put them in plastic storage tubs or cardboard boxes and shove them in the attic? Load the bookshelves to their maximum capacity? Stack them in tall, teetering piles near your nightstand? Or simply walk out of the homeschool room (if you have a room for homeschooling - many of us use the kitchen table!) and shut the door behind you?

For many a homeschooling mom, the very last thing we want to do in April and May is organize the mountain of homeschooling "stuff" we have acquired over the course of the academic year. It's a lot of work, and we're ready for a much deserved break. Some of us may not even want to look at another book until August or September of 2012 rolls around!!

I get all that, really I do. There have been school years that went on so long, I was pretty sure my family was stuck in some kind of time warp. I've pushed the "easy button" and ran head long into the I-don't-have-to-write-lesson-plans-or-grade-math-worksheets-or-teach-cursive-'cuz-it's-SUMMER month of May. It's very tempting, but trust me, it's not the wisest course of action for the homeschooling mother to take.

Next fall I will begin my 14th year of homeschooling. If I have learned anything over the years, I have learned that what I do at the end of the current school year can make or break the next school year. I may truly believe that I will be able to remember how to categorize and sort each of the papers in the ginormous "paper pile", and that I will clearly remember every book my kids read, and that assigning credit for coursework and updating high school transcripts will be breeze come fall. Yup, I may truly believe all of the above, and I am truly wrong in my beliefs. It will not happen that way, ladies.

So here is Part 1 in this series of posts on this topic - take what is helpful and apply it to your homeschool and toss out what isn't helpful. I'm all about encouraging moms who homeschool, not discouraging them by loading them up with lists of Yea's and Nay's. If these tips help, that's terrific! If they don't help, don't sweat the small stuff. But do take some time to document your children's learning and look ahead to next year's curriculum needs before you close the book on this school year :)

Sort Books As You Finish Them
Don't put this off until later - do it now!! As soon as your kiddo finishes that science book, put it where it belongs. (i.e. back on the shelf with other science books to be used in the future, listed on if it's no longer needed in your homeschool, in the Goodwill box if it's too worn to resell, given to your friend at support group who could use it for her kid's next year)

Update Your Older Student's Transcripts Right Away
Use your planner and your student's planners to document any coursework that can count toward high school credit starting in middle school (any high school level work done from 6th grade on can count toward high school credit). Don't have any idea how to create a transcript? No problem, just pick up a nice hardbound notebook (Barnes and Noble often has these on sale). Create a page for each of your children and write down information about the books they've used or read that fit into high school categories like "American Lit" or "Foreign Language" or "Composition". Write down book titles, whether the work was done for one semester or all year, and the grade they earned. And if your kiddo didn't quite finish the book, keep in mind that public high schools assign full credit when books are 80% complete. That's all you need to do for now :)

Make A List of Books You Have and Books You Want/Need
Keep this list in a handy place; in your purse perhaps or tucked inside your Bible. Make sure you look at it regularly and add to it as needed. The list can be simple, but you probably need to have it sorted by subject. As you find a science book you'd like to buy, add it to the list. When you are preparing for a garage sale and find a couple of science books, add them to the list. When your friend mentions a book she has but doesn't need to use next year, check your needs and wants & borrow it if need be (but don't forget to return it as soon as you are finished with it!). Let her look over your list to see if anything you have could be a blessing to her. Refer to your list frequently and you will be amazed at how your homeschool planning "comes together" in a much easier fashion than when you try and figure it all our from memory or worse yet, on the last day of August!

Those are my 3 tips for today, but I will continue this in Part 2. If you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to try and answer them - leave a comment and I'll get back to you and include your questions Part 2.

Lord bless your homeschool & have a wonderful Easter this weekend! He is risen indeed!!

Day 90 done :)

Jan L. Burt


  1. Wow -- you never cease to amaze me! For all of you who don't know Jan personally -- you are missing out on a true TREAT!! Be thankful you have found her blog...but just know this blog is only a small small piece of the AWESOMENESS that she represents!! She is so organized and dedicated...that I know when she says come May she just wants to "be lazy and not see another book until Aug"...that while that may be true (and who wouldn't feel that way -- even me with kids in public school feel that way!!)...that would NEVER be what truly happens with Jan. She is too methodical to ever be LAZY not to mention she's soooo organized! 14 years of homeschooling...and a wealth of knowledge that I could only ever dream of having!! THANKS, Jan -- for ALL you do...not only for me and my family...our church youth...your fantastic 5 children....your wonderful & fun husband....but for all of those who you touch through this blog!! You are amazing..and I'm blessed to call you FRIEND!!!!


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