When it comes to choosing curricula for our kids, I tend to find something I LOVE and want to tell every homeschool Mom about how wonderful it is. And then…I find out the choices we made are some of the more unpopular choices. Or maybe homeschool parents are just highly opinionated creatures and I just happen to run in circles with a whole bunch of people who do not agree with me.
Whatever the case, we do our own thing around here, love it, and don’t plan on changing what works for us. And when it comes to math, we are Saxon people. I cannot foresee a change in this (because ultimately Mama decides and Mama likes Saxon, too). Honestly, my children don’t know there are other options – I am fine with that, too. We started Saxon in first grade with our first student and we haven’t looked back.
Since I know Saxon is not the most popular curriculum out there, I am not going to even attempt to persuade you to buy it, use it, or otherwise think about it. You can run off on other homeschool pursuits around here. There’s plenty for you to read here.
But if you are still reading this article, I want to share with you my organizational tips for making preparing to teach Saxon math simple enough to only have to do it twice a month! Hooray for time-saving organizational tips for homeschooling parents!
Start with an organized folder
My organized folder has evolved over the past two years of teaching Saxon math. Originally, it was a basic manila folder with a tab labeled “Math-Week Ahead.” If you are only teaching one level of Saxon math, this one simple folder should work for you for years.
As I added another Saxon math student this year, I upgraded my folder and duplicated it for the second student. Now, I have two folders: one labeled “Saxon Math 3 Weeks Ahead” and another labeled “Saxon Math 1 Weeks Ahead.” I upgraded these simple folders by stapling an open envelope (colorful for whimsy) onto the front of the folder. Into this envelope goes all the cards and extras for the 2 weeks ahead.
Also attached to this folder is a heavy duty paper clip of some sort. It needs to be able to hold about 20 pieces of paper attached to the folder. Inside each folder, I tuck the morning meeting book and an erasable white board (found at the Target Dollar Spot).
Note: One last awesome tip for ease of planning. Make ONE copy of the morning meeting strip and laminate it – genius, I know! Use Vis a Vis markers instead of dry erase on the laminated meeting strip. I have more genius printing hacks here, make sure you check them out.
Keep only 2 weeks worth of math in the folder at any given time
In this organized folder I keep a number of things. I keep 2 weeks of math worksheets and paperwork, flash cards, and scratch paper. If it is a piece of paper and I am going to need it in the next two weeks, it is in my folder. My goal is to not have to go searching for anything when math comes around.
As we progress through the two weeks, I attach completed work to the inside back of the folder cover (using that heavy duty paperclip I mentioned). The stack of work to be completed dwindles throughout the two weeks until there is nothing left but a
By the way, I created Teacher’s Companions for Saxon Math 1, 2 and 3. They are downloadable files of almost all the “stuff” they want parents to create “the night before.” Things like the clocks for year one (see picture). I wish this resource had been available the first time I taught first grade math!! You can get a sample for FREE when you subscribe to Simple.Home.Blessings. Look for the sign up form below. Or if you already KNOW this will be a wonderfully helpful resource, head over to our shop and pick one up!
Find a bin for manipulatives (keep little hands out of that bin)
Oh, the manipulatives and little hands! How they love them! How they strew them places you didn’t realize they could get to in less than 30 seconds. We are still looking for about 18 linking cubes. They could be in the car, or maybe the bathtub…who knows?
To keep manipulatives from spreading far and wide, toss them in a manipulative bin of some sort. I use a 31 bin I got a few years ago (I sold their products in a Disney-crazed, 7 months pregnant with baby number 4 phase for a few months). Love the products and still use them!
I am also pretty dictatorial about using Ziploc bags to organize the bin and keep all like manipulatives together. I just want math time to run as smoothly as possible. Searching 30 minutes each time Saxon math is on the schedule is not my idea of fun. Also not my idea of fun is rummaging through an untidy manipulatives bin searching for one orange pattern block.
I keep my organized Saxon Math folders in a magazine file holder next to my organized manipulatives bin. All this is on the top shelf of our classroom rolling cart (currently out of reach for two of my little ones, even with a step stool).
Set aside a planning session every two weeks
You can make it part of Friday date night, your Saturday coffee project, a Sunday evening panic session, or a Monday morning snooze marathon(?), I usually get around to it on Sunday afternoon when I try do my planning for the week. I get together our schedule for our homeschool for the week, plan our meals (if I am really on top of it), and gather Saxon math materials.
Saxon is so nice for the script they offer parents who struggle to teach math concepts in a cogent way. But, these are by no means open and go curricula. Thus, there are a LOT of things they ask you to do to prepare for the lessons. Often these are noted in the preparation notes at the beginning of the lesson. “The night before” notes are sometimes baffling and were often a source of frustration for me because I had NOT done anything the night before.
Finding a large enough group of people to consume apples and count their seeds to create a table sized chart in first grade math? Um…we didn’t do it. Not because I didn’t want to, but because of all the PREP!
Now that I am going through first grade math for a second time AND I am prepping once every 2 weeks, I can make sure I am prepared ahead of time for what will happen during the weeks ahead. Now we don’t have to leave off doing math for a couple of days while I find the time and energy to go to the store and get a bushel of apples to pass out to anyone who drops by.
Get what you need quickly
I went ahead and created an Amazon list of the things I mentioned in this post. That way your planning sessions can be even easier. These links are affiliate links which means if you click through my site and make a purchase, I get small remuneration. Your price is the same and I only recommend things I actually use, as is evidenced by this post.
And make sure you sign up for the Teacher Companion sample by becoming a Simple.Home.Blessings. Saturday Stroll subscriber. Or go grab the whole Teacher Companion for Saxon Math 1, 2 and 3 in our shop.