Taking a Break and Organizing Bookshelves

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We don’t have Classical Conversations this week, so we are taking a break from our regular homeschooling schedule. We aren’t taking a complete break, but we are taking it easy.

Today we spent several hours organizing all the bookshelves in the house. We have so many books and bookshelves all over the house, upstairs and down, this is no small task.  The bookshelves in the photo are only some of the bookshelves we have.

The girls helped me gather and then redeposit books all over the house.  Even the baby helped. The youngest ones made games of it.  “Make way! Make way! Books coming through!”

We put red labels on all the history, geography, and social studies books.

We put green labels on all the science and nature books.

We put blue labels on all the poetry, mythology, art, and music books.

The colored labels help the kids know where to put the books back without having to think too hard about what category the books go in. Even my non-readers can help put the books back as long as the books have colored labels.

We took some time to gather collections together: picture books, Magic Tree House, American Girl, easy readers, mysteries, juvenile novels, preschool and baby books, etc.

I have found that once books have an official place that I decide upon, it is much easier to keep all the books well sorted and train and remind the kids where to put them back.  And that, of course, keeps the house cleaner, and makes the books easier to find when you want or need them.

Of course, the shelves won’t stay perfect, because we use these books all the time. But most of our books are still only ever touched by me or my oldest, so most of them will stay in relatively good order. And we do chores everyday, always taking time to put random books back at that point.

As we worked, the girls kept rediscovering books they had forgotten about. That’s another benefit to reorganizing your bookshelves. Now the house is unusually peaceful because the two oldest girls are ready to settle down after all that hard work and eager to reunite with old favorites they found.

Home Ec

It occurred to me that I should have some practical goals for Norah this year to go along with all the academic ones.

You know “life-skills” and all.

In the fuss of planning history and science and art I had kind of forgotten it was also my job to teach her this kind of stuff, too.

Arguably, this stuff is more important anyway.

If a straight A high school student can’t wash their own laundry, how smart are they really?

So here’s a list of stuff she is going to learn how to do this year:

Clean off the stainless steel trash can.

Note: I hate this job and it’s a good sized job for Norah to inherit. It will allow her practice and eventually perfect the all-important skill of using Windex without leaving streaks.

Empty and reline waste baskets.

Empty and reset the diaper champ.

Make her and Avril’s breakfast.

She needs to learn to pour the cereal and milk into the bowls, microwave the oatmeal safely, etc. else she and Avril may not eat breakfast till noon once I am nursing an infant.

Make (and put away the ingredients of) her and Avril’s sandwiches for lunch.

Vacuum the stairs with a hand held vac.

Sweep and quick mop the kitchen and bathroom floors.

Wash and dry a simple load of laundry.

Wipe off the bathroom counter/sink/mirror, etc.

Clean out the toilet with a toilet brush.

Looking at these goals like I am looking at our goals for school this year, it becomes clear that I am going to need to break all these tasks down into detailed parts and really be there with her, showing her and telling her how to do these things correctly and safely.

I also realize I need to buy her some tools so she can do these tasks herself… like a nice pair of petite, vinyl gloves, an apron and a few step stools positioned around the house, etc.

I think Norah is going to be thrilled with the power to do more for herself. She’s always begging to help. So, I am actually looking forward to this part of our school year. I guess we should call it “home ec.”