Enhanced – video article
Bookshelf & beyond
with Curriculum Consultants:
Gina Burmeier & Amber Gracia
Kid storage shelf with toys and puzzles
Around the house
When you start a new school year, everything is fresh and exciting. Hopefully, you have had some time to refresh, reflect and recharge over the summer.
If you are anything like us, you tend to start out with high hopes for the upcoming year; however, when life happens, it’s easy to veer off track and become discouraged. When this happens, having organization and structure to your homeschool—even if it’s loosely organized—will help you stay focused and prepared throughout the year.
Self-Helps for Organization
Assorted self help books for organization
Keeping the home organized and operating smoothly is a constant job for the homeschool parent. It’s a good idea to keep good self-help books available for gaining new ideas and strategies for your home. What works for one does not work for another! We can often gain wisdom from reading advice from those who have gone before us.

Let’s face it, Mom is often the keeper of the home and keeping it running smoothly can be quite challenging! M.O.M. Master Organizer of Mayhem by Baker Publishing Group has such great tips on organizing the home. Each chapter ends with a “You got this” challenge and thought-provoking questions. This could be a fun book to go through and complete with a group of friends. Clean Mama’s Guide to a Peaceful Home by HarperCollins Publishers is a handy resource that features over fifty tips for homekeeping bliss! Incredibly relatable, part cheerleader, and part self-analysis—this book is for those who need some encouragement with practical guidance to maintain a calm, cozy home. Question grids help you see where improvements can be made by going room by room. Author Becky Rapinchuk examines your routines with real topics like meal planning, kids’ rooms, vacuuming, laundry, and more.

If you have been looking for a way to declutter, organize, and streamline your home, this book will give you plenty of good advice! In Organized Homeschool Life (A Week-By-Week Guide to Homeschool Sanity) by Fun to Learn Books, Dr. Melanie Wilson provides a year’s worth of weekly challenges! When it comes to keeping the home and school, it is possible to have an organized homeschool life. I adore that she targets the Christian homeschool mom and that she writes from the perspective of one who felt she wasn’t organized enough to get organized. Though designed to start in January, you can begin any time of the year. Begin with the current month or tackle your greatest struggle area first. Chapters are divided into months and provide weekly challenge overviews and daily missions (tasks). For example, organize the kitchen in the third week of September. Missions: organize dishes/cups, set up snack centers, move seldom used items, and organize for kid cooking.

Storage Containers
Gray and purple storage tote
You have a framework in your mind about how to have structure, but what tools do you use to facilitate this organization? Cubby Bins by Storex measure 12.2” x 7.8” x 5.1” and are wonderful for storing school supplies or children’s toys. You could even use these to store fun items for littles and bring them out only when working with older children. Large Caddys by Storex come with gray cups to compartmentalize your art supplies, cleaning supplies, tools, bathroom items, or anything else you want to keep in one place. The handle in the middle divides the two halves; take the gray insert cups out to make a bigger space. Without these, the halves each measure 12” long by 4.5” wide by 4.5” high. Both storage containers are available in a variety of colors.

Store magazines, books, or school supplies in Tattle Shelf Files by Romanoff Products measuring 10” wide x 3” across and 5” tall in the front, increasing to 7” in back. Need a place to keep little items or building bricks? Block ‘n’ Go Large Organizer Case with Block Plate also by Romanoff Products measures 14” x 10.5” and 2” deep with 16 small dividers inside. A handle allows you to carry it like a briefcase and the detachable lid includes a building surface (11.5” x 8”).

Bright yellow storage bin
Use Notes and Reminders to Organize
Orange, pink and yellow post it notes
I don’t know about you, but I am continually putting sticky notes around my desktop computer for reminders. Post-it® Notes by Post It® come in lined 4” x 6” sheets and are convenient for longer notes to leave in visible places. Each pack includes multiple pads that come in fun spring colors, and each pad has 90 sheets for a total of 270 sheets. The super sticky adhesive lets you securely stick and re-stick your notes on almost any surface.

The Kitchen Companion 2023 Page-A-Week® Calendar by Workman Publishing Company is magnetic and can easily stick. directly to your refrigerator or other magnetic surface. Each day of the week has its own column, leaving plenty of space for the entire family’s list of events. Cute, full-color graphics, illustrations, and amusing quotes complete the package. There is ample room to make notes and each week offers a different tear-off page. This is so handy to keep appointments, grocery lists, and events in direct view of your whole family to notice.

Kitchen calendar with dog and cat notes
Are you having trouble keeping track of all your internet passwords? If I don’t write them down and keep them in one spot, I quickly forget. You can store all your password information in one book with the Garden Signs Password Journal by LANG. This pocket-sized book is organized in 28 alphabetically tabbed pages. The cover is beautifully illustrated with a garden theme and hummingbirds.

Need a larger spot to post notes and reminders? The Peel and Stick Chalkboard Pet by McCall Pattern Company is a very easy to remove and repositionable wall decal, pulling away from the wall without leaving a residue. Each pack comes with two pieces of white chalk, and the chalkboard surface easily wipes clean. The vinyl adhesive sheets measure 25” x 38” and feature an approximately 2’ x 3’ puppy, with an additional bone decal (12” x 4”) and a ball decal (8 1/2” diameter).

Green and blue planners
Green and blue planners
Need a place for daily lesson plans and other homeschool data? While many digital tools are available for these tasks, a physical lesson plan book helped me to stay focused and on track. Homeschooler’s Journal by Fergnus Services is a spiral bound planner uniquely suited to homeschooling and is intended as a permanent record. The first few pages contain helpful instructions for use and a two-year calendar. A two-sided page for recording by subject allows space for your weekly schedule. Recording boxes leave plenty of room and each page includes a lined, wide “NOTES” column. The end of the planner includes a spot to record books read and library lists.

The Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planners by Jeannie Fulbright are brand new, beautiful planners that not only keep you organized, but also become a wonderful keepsake for years to come! Based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy, each week has a Charlotte Mason quotation to help you better understand her way of teaching, a Bible verse in NKJV to help you stay focused on God’s Word, and practical advice to apply this method or the Scripture. A weekly blank template allows you to fill in a schedule for early and mid-morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. There are even spaces for focusing on habits, prayer, and self-care along with read-alouds and nature studies. It also includes a monthly calendar and pages to help you record your best memories and personal goals. Made of quality leather, this useful planner also has a silk ribbon to hold your place and an elastic strap to hold your page open. Beautiful watercolor illustrations fill each page. These planners measure 8.4 x 11.6 inches.

Colored planner
Your student can keep organized with Academic Planners by Order Out of Chaos. This award-winning, patented calendar layout allows students to see school assignments alongside extracurricular activities so they can manage their time wisely. There are no frills, just a clean and simple design. These planners come in letter and personal size. The covers come in different colors and are made of vinyl material that hold up to daily wear and tear. Features include seven subject boxes for weekly assignments, hourly slots from 2–9 p.m., a project planning guide, a year-at-a-glance calendar from July-June, a full-size monthly calendar, and a pocket sewn in the back. An available accessory pack includes monthly tabs, planner page markers, and student sticker sheets.

Organizing Chores

Children job chart
An important part of homeschooling is teaching life skills—and daily household chores are a part of life! It’s important to be a team working together to accomplish the tasks that keep your home running smoothly. Mentor and teach your kids how to do simple tasks first, then larger, more complicated tasks to develop responsibility. We all know how well chores go when jobs aren’t assigned to a specific person. You’re continually asking: Who’s doing the dishes tonight? Who’s sweeping? Has anyone fed the pets? Who’s got the garbage? Chore charts allow you to keep responsibilities organized and help children feel good about completing tasks.

Job charts by Shapes, Etc. help young children to keep track of simple chores. Each chart comes with the headings of Self-Care, Clean Room, School, and Household/Family Chores. The Create Your Own Chart allows you to fill in the jobs and The Child Organizer has jobs already filled in for tasks like brushing teeth, combing hair, putting away belongings, and making the bed. Each pad comes with 26 weekly sheets and measures 8.5 x 11 inches.

Childs job chart
Another simple chart for young children is The Child’s Job Chart by Creative Changes, Inc. This inexpensive laminated chart has a spot to put your child’s name, then a list of daily jobs with pictures given vertically on the chart with Sunday through Saturday across the top. The daily jobs are: Make Bed, Take Bath, Comb Hair, Brush Teeth, Pick Up Toys, and Be Happy.

Zone Cleaning for Kids! Clean ‘n’ Flip + DVD by Trigger Memory Systems comes with a colorful, laminated flip chart and uses clear illustrations and check boxes so children know exactly what is expected of them. When they are finished, they flip the page. The zones include living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Each zone has steps to follow and check off, but also a place to write in specific daily chores. In the living room, Step 1 is “Pick-up.” Graphics show a laundry basket and items like shoes, books, and dishes with an arrow to place these items in the basket. This is helpful for children too young to read. A check box says to, “Grab a basket or plastic tub. Put items that do not belong in the living room in the basket.” Kids follow each step for their daily tasks. When chores are done, you check the box and flip the page. A 15-minute instructional DVD clarifies any questions you may have.

Dinner Help
Dinner menus to fill out at home
Are you tired of the question, “What’s for Dinner?” Cookbook author Rachel Masters, from Masters at Everything, takes a practical approach in Supper’s on the Table, Come Home. As a mom with young children, she was frustrated with the time it took to develop a meal plan and grocery list for the week. To make this easier, she created a plan that rotated through all the main dishes her family enjoyed, along with shopping lists to accompany them. In the end she had a twelve-week plan—each week complete with five main dishes, a dessert, a snack, and a shopping list. After using her plan with much success over the years, she now presents it to the rest of us in a handy cookbook form. The cookbook presents thirteen weeks, each with a meal plan, a grocery list (divided into types of food like produce, dairy, etc.), and the recipes. Each week features five meals, a snack, and a dessert. Weeks are broken down by meal, with each meal including recipes for the main course as well as side dishes. As a bonus, Rachel has included a suggested timetable for each meal, outlining when each preparation task should be done for a six o’clock target dinner time.

Your weekly menu/shopping list is made easier with This Week’s Menu Note Pad by Peter Pauper Press. Each sheet is divided into two portions: a Menu and a Shopping List. The menu has 21 slots: 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. Next to each meal is a checkbox to note if ingredients are needed to prepare the meal. The shopping list has twenty-three 2″ spaces to write needed ingredients. Check against the items you have, make your list, and when you’re ready to go shopping, simply tear off the perforated shopping list! Hang your menu on the fridge so your family knows what to look forward to each day.

On the Go Organization
Greenish yellow folder organizer
When traveling, it’s difficult to keep papers and assignments organized. Seven-Pocket Backpack Files by C-Line Products, Inc. fit nicely inside a backpack and keep your 8.5” x 11” documents organized. Why pull a whole binder out of a backpack for only one sheet of paper? This cleverly designed document sorter is vertical and top loading with a flap closure, making it easier to organize backpack contents and to grab just what you need. The seven pockets have six tabs between them, making it easy to sort between days of the week or classes. They come in assorted colors.
Using a colored bag for storage on a stroller
If you are on the go with littles, Wet Bags by Bumkins are so handy to have and can be used in place of a plastic bag. Measuring 12” x 14”, these reusable bags have a top zipper and 12” long handle that snaps into a loop. The seams are heat-sealed for true waterproof protection. These are wonderful for toys, accessories, diapers, electronics, and much more. They come in a variety of fun prints and are machine washable. The snack bags come in a set of two (small or large size) and are also great for snacks, cosmetics, cash, electronics, small toys, or anything else you can fit inside. All bags are food safe, BPA-free, PVC-free, vinyl-free, phthalate-free, and lead-free.
Storage bags for strollers
Life Skills
Life skills for kids book
Your kids may be involved in a variety of activities in addition to their schoolwork, but are they learning the most important skills? Have they mastered life skills—the ones they will need for their future when they leave your home and become independent adults? Life Skills for Kids by Penguin Random House LLC is a wonderful, practical guide helping incorporate life skill training into the everyday, so you aren’t making room for yet another activity. Feeling as though she was not “life trained” as a child and wanting to prepare her own children, the author wrote this book to help all parents. Each of the fourteen chapters focus on a different skill including everything from responsibility to finding joy in everyday life. The personable, down-to-earth tone of the book makes it an enjoyable read for parents wanting useful ideas and help. Chapters are filled with lots of encouragement and valuable information, a variety of suggestions, and practical, relevant charts. Each chapter concludes with a “Life Skills Checklist” to help you determine if you’ve successfully met each chapter’s goals.
Kids cooking game
Letting your kids help you as you go about your daily chores is a great way for them to learn. Get out of the habit of doing it yourself and learn to let them do it with you. Having kid-sized tools makes that much more fun!

A great way to learn cooking skills is to be a helper in the kitchen. Kids will love using the Let’s Play House! Stir & Serve Cooking Utensils by Melissa and Doug®. This high-quality, 7-piece set includes a sturdy stainless steel whisk, ladle, spatula, skimmer, spaghetti server, wooden spoon, and a holder. All pieces are food and dishwasher safe. Utensils are about 7″ long. Your elementary age student can learn some basic cooking skills with the Cooking and Baking Class Box Set by Workman Publishing. This special edition features the best-selling combo of Cooking Class and Baking Class, along with a bonus cutting board. These two titles are a complete (and fun) class in the basics of cooking from scratch, beginning with simple sandwiches on a stick and advancing to pizza, fish tacos, popovers, and homemade bread. Kids learn how to safely handle kitchen appliances (like blenders and mixers), use the stove and oven, and master techniques such as chopping, peeling, grating, dicing, measuring, and cleanup. In the Ultimate Kids Cookbook by Macmillan, students will learn how to cook step-by-step the way grown-ups do. These kid-perfect recipes use simple ingredients, don’t take a lot of work, and cook all in one pan. Along the way, kids will learn important skills, such as how to cut foods with or without a knife, brown ground meat for tacos, cook noodles for pasta dinners, and use an oven safely.

Kids play broom, bucket and construction tools
Is your little one eager to “help” with the housekeeping? Kids can help with cleaning chores using the Let’s Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop by Melissa and Doug®. Hand them this set, and they’ll be ready to tidy up alongside you. This set includes a broom, mop, duster, dustpan brush, and dustpan. All the items have sturdy natural-colored wooden handles (except for the all-plastic dustpan). The primary color scheme is gender-neutral. Loops are attached for easy hanging, and the dustpan clicks onto the broom handles. To top it off, the set includes a tall wooden pole stand with knobs for hanging tools when not in use.

The garden helper will enjoy the Little Moppet™ Bucket Kit by Family Games. The kit includes miniature look-alikes of real gardening tools: a metal bucket with a handle (5.5” tall and 6” rim), a small hand trowel with a metal spade and wooden handle, and a pair of small-handed gardening gloves. Children ages 4 and up can enjoy the use of these tools, whether planting flowers, gardening, or just playing in the dirt. Made with wood from managed forests and non-toxic paint.

For children who want to learn construction or woodworking, the Stanley® Jr. 10-piece Tool Set by Real Tool Box USA, is the perfect tool set: containing a kid-size hammer, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, clear safety goggles, and tape measure. The tools are great quality and just the right size for the little hands that are always wanting to help with projects. The real hammer, flathead screwdriver, and Phillips head screwdriver are made of high-grade hard steel with rubberized ergonomic black and yellow grips that prevent dangerous slips. The plexiglass goggles have an elastic headband, and the measuring tape expands to 10 feet markings.

Just remember: the more organized you are, the more time you will have. Any effort you invest in setting up and maintaining your learning environment will never be wasted. Order brings peace and produces contented, secure kids. Every home is unique and must find a system that works for them.

If you have questions about homeschooling, the people at Rainbow Resource Center are available to help. A team of homeschool moms and former teachers are on their consultant team and can be reached by live chat or phone calls Monday–Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT @ 888-841-3456. Send an email 24 hours a day and you’ll get a response during their regular business hours.
Gina & Amber
Gina and Amber

ina Burmeier and her husband homeschooled their three kids using many Charlotte Mason and classical programs. Realizing all three kids were very different, taking an eclectic approach gave them a great opportunity to meet all their children’s needs. For years, they traveled together as a family to homeschool conventions representing Rainbow Resource Center. She has thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with many homeschoolers over the years. With all three kids now college graduates, she is a consultant in the office at Rainbow and continues to enjoy helping homeschoolers with curriculum questions. She is very passionate about researching curriculum and learning styles as she helps other homeschoolers find the best fit for their children.


mber Gracia studied Elementary Education and music at Bible college. There she met her husband and began the journey of ministry and family. Giving their four children a Christian education became the focus and they purposed making that happen by putting them in a Christian school where they were teaching some years and homeschooling other years. Now Amber is a homeschool consultant at Rainbow Resource Center helping other homeschoolers with curriculum questions. Amber loves finding the key to help each student learn in their own way.