Color-coded Homeschool Organization

by Terri Wilson
(Highland Village, TX)

You've heard of the mysterious child named I Dunno identfied by Erma Bombeck? Well, he took up residence in our house...

Who left the pencils and paper in the living room, I Dunno. Who left the bath towel on the floor, I Dunno. And it goes on and on. My solution to removing this pest from our house...color-coding.

Each child was assigned a color, in our case we used, blue, red and pink. Everything I could possibly think of was purchased in each child's color (many were found at the dollar store or from other inexpensive sources).

Some examples of what we have color-coded:
1. School pencils
2. Staplers
3. Scissors
4. Pencil cases for colored pencils and markers
5. Pencil sharpeners
6. Notebooks (spiral bound and 3-ring)
7. Rulers
8. Drinking cups (bought 4 sets of plastic cups)
9. Bath towel and washcloths

Color-coding easily identifies who left what where.

We also use a Confiscation Bucket in the living room. At regular intervals throughout the day (at breakfast, after lunch and before bed) we have a confiscation check. Anything left out, in a room where it is not currently being played with, gets confiscated and put into the Confiscation Bucket (laundry hamper with lid) in the living room.

There it sits until Sunday afternoon where it can be purchased back for 1 ticket (we use tickets for chores done well and good behavior), 25 cents or 20 minutes time out if the child has no tickets or money. If it is an item critically needed before Sunday afternoon, it can be purchased at any time for double the regular price.

A third component to our household system is having the kids responsible for daily chores.

As a parent, it is my responsibility to train my children to live on their own. I have found that easier to do when they get chores from early on and then slowly grow in to more responsibility.

Each child is responsible for their own space (bed, bedroom floor, closet, etc) and then also 1 zone of the house (dining room, living room, kitchen, play room, or kids' bathroom).

My two oldest alternate months of the dining room and kitchen and alternate weekly for their own bathroom. The youngest (age 5) has the living room and playroom.

Dining room person is responsible to set, clear, wipe and vacuum the dining room for each meal. The kitchen person is responsible to clear, wipe counters, rinse/wash the dishes before putting in dishwasher and vacuum the kitchen for each meal also unloading dishwasher whenever it is marked "clean."

Color-coded cups are rinsed and set on the counter to be used the rest of the day and put in the dishwasher after dinner.

The kids' bathroom is wiped and "cleaned" on Mondays and then the rest of the week it simply must be kept picked up and trash dumped daily. At the confiscation check times, tickets are given for chores done well and zones that are in order.

Knowing who left what where and picking things up on a regular basis with the confiscation checks has greatly decreased the amount of items that get left around the house.

I am still not the world's best housekeeper, but whether we have cleaned up or not just before my husband gets home from work, he no longer trips over knee deep piles of toys or clothes on his way in the door.

At least not on most days. :)
Terri Wilson

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