Are you ready for the new homeschooling year to begin? As the days of summer begin to dwindle, many homeschool parents start the countdown to the first day of school and often begin to feel stressed. Whether you've been blessed with one child, two, or a tribe of 12, getting prepared to homeschool takes more than just good intentions or wishful thinking. To start your homeschooling year on the right foot, try these helpful organizational suggestions and ideas:

Organize your curriculum

If a busy summer schedule has kept you from reviewing the homeschool curriculum you purchased two months ago, now's the time to open the boxes and start making lesson plans. As you study teacher's guides, student workbooks, and testing materials, spend an entire week planning, so you begin the new school year with at least one month of lessons for core subjects such as Bible, math, language arts, science, history, and geography. Also, if you have curriculum from last year that can't be passed down to younger children or given away, don't waste extra space on your shelves. Pack the old curriculum away and only place each child's current schoolbooks on your bookshelves.

Perhaps you're homeschooling this year with a computer-based curriculum such as Switched-On Schoolhouse® for grades 3-12 from Alpha Omega Publications®. Organizing your curriculum on the computer will take less time and effort with the convenient, built-in global calendar and advanced lesson planning options. In addition, since CD-ROMs are much smaller than bulky textbooks, you'll save precious working space when trying to homeschool in a tight area.

Organize your house

Getting your home ready for the new homeschooling year includes fall cleaning. Although you likely aren't enthusiastic about this chore, realistically, you probably won't move the furniture to give the carpet a thorough vacuuming again until December. So reclaim the living room and your children's bedrooms by chasing away those spider webs before you get into the routine of schooling each day.

You should also decide which rooms in your house should be used as classrooms. Since every home is different, work with your floor plan and available space. Maybe the kitchen works best for your family because the table is big enough to accommodate four children. Also, make sure there is plenty of storage space like a pantry or closet nearby to hold all your schoolbooks and supplies. In addition, you'll find it beneficial to prepare a place in each child's room for quiet, independent activities, as well as find places to hang maps, time lines, and posters on your walls to stimulate your child's learning interests.

Another organizing tip that saves time is stocking up on essentials such as non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, personal items, and paper products. Extra trips to the store for these items will be reduced, creating more uninterrupted, homeschooling time.

Organize supplemental teaching materials and supplies

Bookcases have a way of getting out of control when books have been haphazardly returned to their spots throughout the summer months. Reorganize before starting a new school year by separating shelves into different categories such as encyclopedias, fiction, non-fiction, and reference books for history, science, and other subjects. Educational toys such as math manipulatives, games, and puzzles can be sorted for older or younger children and stored in plastic tubs. Plastic storage units with three or four drawers can house arts and crafts supplies, as well as markers, colors, pencils, and other everyday schooling supplies. If your homeschooling budget is tight, be creative. Make storage containers out of empty laundry soap boxes, cookie tins, coffee cans, and other inexpensive, ordinary items found around your home.

Organize the family chores

If there's one good thing about homeschooling with a large family, it certainly provides opportunities for learning a variety of life skills. The problem arises, however, when trying to keep track of each child's chores and responsibilities. To keep things organized, especially when the children are younger, use a weekly schedule and post it on the refrigerator. Whether helping prepare the meal, setting the table, washing the dirty dishes, carrying out the trash, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, collecting dirty laundry, or folding clothes and putting them away, each child will know what is expected of him that week. When the daily chores are completed, your children can place a sticker or check mark in the box next to the assigned, age-appropriate chore completed.

Organize your household rules

Save more time for teaching instead of parenting with a posted set of family rules. Decide together with your children what these rules will be, along with the consequences if they are violated. Disobedience, disrespect, pouting, and other poor character qualities that interfere with homeschooling can be addressed before you begin the school year. Also, don't forget to include a clear understanding of expected bed times, as well as how much TV, computer, and telephone time will be allowed each day.

Organize yourself

Be truthful. Since you're the first link in the homeschooling adventure, don't forget to pencil in time for yourself when organizing your yearly homeschool calendar. After all, if the stress of parenting and teaching 24/7 causes your marriage, friendships, and relationship with the Lord to fail, what good are all your homeschooling efforts? Plan dates with your spouse, fun days with friends, and special alone times with the Lord even before the year begins. If you don't schedule these important events, they'll never happen. Also, be sure to schedule more time than you think you'll need, since unforeseen circumstances usually cancel half of them for one reason or another. More importantly, make sure you prioritize your daily schedule and include time for personal devotions and exercise, so you find the spiritual, emotional, and physical strength you need.

Although organization takes a fair amount of time to accomplish at the beginning of the homeschool year, it only takes a short amount of time to maintain. Take advantage of these last days of summer vacation. Get organized and make your homeschooling year the best it can be, as you enjoy more free time teaching the people you love most.