I have homeschooled kids from birth through twelfth grade. If you are like most homeschoolers I know, your curriculum and chapter book collection will rival most libraries. Managing and keeping track of all that curriculum when you are homeschooling kids in multiple grades can be quite the daunting task.
I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled texts off of a shelf and thought it was one grade level, only to find out it wasn’t what I thought. Most texts do not put grade levels on their covers or inside them unless it says, "Math 5" — then you might have a clue.
Today, I’m going sharemy methodfor organizing, and never again questioning which chapter books go with which curriculum, or even what grade or year your text book may be. My easy filing system will save you hours of hunting for that needed grade level or specific text.
This year I moved my son up a whole grade level because…ahem…last year when I was planning I pulled out what I thought were 6th grade books. They weren’t. They were 7th grade books. Homeschool Fail right there. But good for us and good for my son that he had no difficulty completing those and skipped an entire grade. But it was 4 months into our school year before I discovered my mistake and I hadn’t labeled that group of books for some reason. Lesson learned.
I use a sticker, as well as a interior cover labeling system for every book that comes through my house.
Step 1)As soon as any curriculum arrive through my front door, I open up the front cover and label it with an approximate or exact grade or age. In this photo below, a chapter book is labeled with the grade and Oak Meadow so that I know it goes with the syllabus for that year. You can also label them "highschool level" or whatever suits your needs best if you tend to rotate curriculum.
Step 2)Buy these stickers or whatever stickers you like. Dots, emoticon stickers, lego stickers — it doesn’t matter as long as you have a way to identify your books. You should have at least 5 different colors or shapes to create a variety of patterns for labeling.
Step 3)Create a spreadsheet, on a blank piece of paper and include your pattern for book labeling in your teacher’s binder or someplace where you can find it. Here’s what mine looks like.Fancy,right?
The stickers are placed on the spine of the book with grade level that correspond to my master sheet above. Shown is grade 1 with a horizontal green sticker. Grade 6 is two vertical orange stickers and grade 9 is a vertical with overlapping horizontal green sticker. You can make what ever pattern you like as long as they don’t repeat. I also label the sticker with the grade level. Create your master sheet first because if you try to do this while you are labeling books, you will get confused as 150 books sit in front of you now labeled wrong.Ask me how I know?
Step 4)When storing your books on shelves or in crates, do so with the spine showing. Books and texts can be stored by grade level or subject. I prefer by grade level so everything for that year can be pulled out at one time, instead of searching each subject for the grade level I need.
When I pull texts off the shelf they look like the above photo. Alsodon’t let your kids put the stickers on the booksunless they know the difference between horizontal and vertical. If you notice the stickers above they are not consistent and I had to fix them all…and do a homeschool lesson on vertical and horizontal. We call thatskills evaluation.
Step 5)Be vigilant in labeling so you can enjoy the better parts of homeschooling. While organizing is never anyone’s favorite thing to do (except me!), it will save you tons of time when your new year starts.