The Secret To An Organized Homeschool...Even If You Don’t Have A School Room
What is the secret to an organized homeschool?
I’ll let you in on my secret…
There isn't one.
Are you disappointed?
There may not be a secret to keeping your homeschool organized, but there are habits you can implement to stay on top of the clutter.
But first, let’s get it organized. I’m going to walk you thru getting your homeschool organized and how to keep it that way.
I love organized, tidy space. Not only do I enjoy an organized space, but I find the process almost therapeutic.
When I was a kid I remember being so frustrated with my younger brothers (I have 5) that they would rather PLAY then get the house in tip top shape! I mean really!!?? What kid prefers to play rather than clean and organize!!??
Lol!! Ok, so I was a strange kid, but that love for organizing and tidy spaces spilled over into my adult life, but now I have my own house and spaces to organize.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that my children and hubby were not as excited about organizing and tidying as I am!
I quickly realized this was a battle I wasn’t going to win.
So, I had a few options:
A-Become a tyrant who is always barking at everyone to pick up after themselves
B-Let it go…let it goooo…is it stuck in your head now? ;)
C-Find some middle ground
I tried A, with terrible results. It made everyone miserable and I was getting tired of the sound of my own voice barking orders. No surprise right?
B- Really wasn’t an option for me because I do not function well when things are out of order.
I had to figure out a middle ground. How to keep my home (How To Organize Any Space In Your Home and 9 Reasons We Fail At Organization) and our school in order without everyone getting cranky…ok, without ME getting cranky.
Everyone else was fine if books were randomly on the shelf, or pencils and felt pens were all thrown together.
They were fine until they had to look through ALL the pencil crayons AND felt pens to find one specific item.
Let me clarify when I say the words “organization”, “order” and “tidy”. Those words DO NOT equal perfection in my world.
My home is not the perfect Pinterest home…I had to let go of that dream a long time ago and realize we eat, sleep, school and play here. We LIVE here!!
To keep my sanity and that of my family’s, I had to figure out a system that works for us to stay on top of things and maintain a fairly orderly home and school.
As I write this, I have started helping a friend organize her school room as well as organize and prep my school room for the new year. I am moving my office into the school room this year as well, so it’s going to take some fancy maneuvering.
From No School Room To School Room
We are going into our 8th year of homeschooling and for the first 6 years I did not have a school room.
We schooled at the kitchen table with resources throughout the house as there was not enough room to store it all in one place; nor did we have the finances to purchase organization tools (such as shelves, bins and boxes) that I would like.
This challenged my organization skills to the max, but I loved it…most of the time.
Each year after moping a bit…yes, I had a stinky attitude…for not having enough space or the organization items I thought would be perfect. After I gave myself a shake and booted my bad attitude, I rolled up my sleeves and got at it.
I was always thrilled with the results!
The Best Way To Organize Your Homeschool Space
What is the best way to organize your homeschool area or room?
In a way that works best for you!
The Biggest Obstacle To An Organized Homeschool
One thing I run into when I have done organizing for myself or others, is that it is really hard to stay organized and tidy when you have TOO MUCH STUFF!!
This is also true for homeschool resources. In fact, it may be an epidemic for homeschoolers ;)
Please don’t shoot the messenger!
Are you ready to dive in? Are you excited to get your home school organized and ready for the new school year?
What I love about this action plan is that you can use it in any area of your home, but today we are focusing on homeschool supplies, resources, curriculum...all things related to your homeschool.
Organizing Your Homeschool (With Or Without A School Room)
This is how I have organized our school-regardless of whether we’ve schooled at the table or in a school room.
Before you begin, you will need boxes/bins/buckets, anything that will work for sorting and later, storing.
Label Your Sorting Containers
Keep/Use Current Year…these will be items you want easily accessible
Keep/Store…these are items you want to use another year, but are not currently using
Recycle…all those millions of papers I know you have floating around. Keep the really special ones and file them away in a file box, but for most of them, you can probably part with them.
Donate…great items, too nice to throw out
Sell…great item, too nice to donate and too expensive to part with
Optional…a file box for each child to store their “special” school projects, pictures, etc.
8 Steps To Organize Your Homeschool
Start by simplifying and purging…EVERYTHING!! And yes, mama, that applies to homeschool supplies and resources as well. I know it’s tough to let go of things when you’ve paid a pretty penny for it…or not, since we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore…but you get the idea.
With these 8 steps, you will lighten the load, have less to keep organized and enjoy the results.
1-Pull Everything Out
Clear off shelves, cupboards and boxes...anywhere you have school resources or supplies. This way you have everything school related in front of you.
Sort all items by subject or type (math, science, manipulatives, games, etc.)
It’s time to get ruthless…yes, I know its money you’ve spent, but if you haven’t used it in forever or it’s broken, out it goes!
Ask yourself, do you really need 4 buckets of broken crayons?
4-Store Items For Later
If there are items or curriculum that you will not be using this year, put it into the Keep/Store bin.
5-Recycle Or Throw Out
Some items can be placed in recycling,but items that are damaged or extremely well used (and not good for resale) should be put in the trash.
6-Donate Or Sell
Do you have some great curriculum or resources that are in good shape, but you no longer use? Donate, trade or sell these resources.
Before you put everything back, take a few minutes to wipe everything down and clean it…or better yet, get the kids to do it!
The best time to clean is when the shelves or area you keep your school items are empty. It’s much easier to clean an area when there is nothing in the way.
Resources that you will be using for the year need to go back in an organized way.
When it comes to organizing our school resources, I separate all subjects and group all resources for that subject together. That way I know if I need a specific book for science it’s with all the science items and I don’t have to look through every area for it.
Categories For Organizing Your Home School
· Language Arts
· Social Studies
· Teacher Resources
· Score keys
· Reading material (I have a few areas for this as reading gets done all over the house). Anything that is school specific is usually in the school room with other school specific novels.
Once you have everything sorted, you will be able to take a look at what you have and know what you need to purchase as far as curriculum and storage. Keep a running list as you go through your items so you know what you’ll need to purchase.
Keep Like Items Together
· felt pens/ coloured pencils/crayons
· scissors/tape/glue/stapler/hole punch
Tools For Organizing School Supplies
Utensil caddies, mason jars, little planters are really good for keeping these items corralled in one place. It’s also handy for carrying from one location to another.
My children each have a place for their workbooks…they have desk drawers now, but when we were at the table it was a wall filer each. Workboxes work well for this also.
In the desk we use 3 drawers (a file box could work too):
· completed books (we save these until the end of the year)
· books currently being used
· books to be done
When we worked at the table, each child had a bin for “used” workbooks and one for “to be used” workbooks. Books that were currently being used were in the wall filer.
Completed Tests/Quizzes And Score Keys
Score keys for the year are all kept in one location (either a binder or magazine file box) and organized by subject and then grade level.
For tests/quizzes, each child has a binder that has the label “Completed Tests”. Once a test has been completed, I hole punch it and put it in their binder.
The completed tests are then organized by subject. I also write down their mark on a Grade Tracker form. This makes it easy when it comes to reporting because all the tests and grades are in their binder.
For subjects that don’t have removable tests, I leave them where they are, but still write down the mark on the Grade Tracker form.
Organizing Teacher Supplies/Resources
I also have a place to keep things for me, such as tests that need marking, projects that are on the go and random papers that don’t really fit anywhere. I have used a wall or desk filer and sometimes both.
Homeschool Organization Is About Function
When we first started homeschooling, I felt really discouraged because I loved Pinterest school rooms with their matching organization boxes, binders, buckets, etc. and those beautiful bookshelves and desks.
Ahhhhhh…I would sit and drool over them. That was not a good use of my time because it made me unhappy about what I didn’t have, instead of being grateful for what I did have.
So what if my organizers were random, unmatched boxes, buckets and bins!? Matching items doesn’t make for a better, more organized school year, a happier mom or better students.
An organized space (whatever that may look like) however, can help with the flow of things, but it really doesn’t matter if the bookshelves match or not, or whether you school at a desk or dining room table.
Now maybe you’re thinking, but Grace, you have a school room and you have beautiful desks!!?? Yes, you are right. I do have a school room now and we have accumulated more organization items over the years, but we didn’t start out that way.
The first 6 years I made do with what we had, doing school at the table and organizing our resources throughout the house with whatever boxes, bins or buckets I could find. I would have to adjust my “system” every year and I would've continued to do this if I still had a few brothers living in our basement.
Before having a school room, I had to make do with organizing and arranging our school spaces throughout the house. I also learned to make do with what I had and most importantly, to be thankful that I:
1. Have the opportunity to homeschool my children
2. Have a home to live in…even if we didn't have a school room
You Can Have An Organized Home School Even Without A School Room
To be honest, having a school room is great, but it doesn’t make a huge difference to how organized our homeschool is.
Yes, now we have all our school items in one place, but there are still things to organize and now more places to clean. The kids still distract each other, goof off and I still lose my patience at times. Nothing has changed in that way ;)!
If you are feeling discouraged with your homeschool space, please be encouraged. Take some time to organize the space you have, with what you have, whether that be bookshelves, buckets or binders, and learn to love it! You will enjoy the benefits of an organized space.
Once your homeschool is organized, these 4 tips will help you keep it that way.
4 Tips To Keep Your Home School Organized
1. Do a mini tidy at the end of every day or the end of each week if daily is too much
2. Recycle/trash papers that are not needed right away…this can be a huge contributor to clutter
3. Have a place for everything and put everything back in it’s place
4. Stay on top of the marking and looking over their work, this can really pile up and it can get to be overwhelming
Who’s ready to start the school year off with their resources and school space organized and ready to go?
I know this may be as exciting as a root canal to you, but believe me, you’ve got this! You will love the end result :)
I love helping people bring organization to their lives. If you have any questions or need some ideas or encouragement, please feel free to send me an email.