As I enter my seventh year of homeschooling the two youngest of our seven children, I'm finally getting the hang of homeschool organization without a homeschool room.
What really helped was this set of free homeschool organization printable checklists (including the newest worksheet- the Homeschool Spring Cleaning Worksheet) - I created to get myself and my fellow homeschool moms better organized. You'll see the link at the bottom of this post.
Yes, it really took me this long to learn how to homeschool and get organized. But in my defense, we moved four times in the past five years. And none of these homes had a homeschool room. So I learned a thing or two about homeschool organization without a homeschool room! Because learning at home can be, well, messy. And disorganized, especially when your kids, books, art supplies, and science projects creep across your home.
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If you're struggling to get your home organized for homeschooling without a dedicated homeschool room, read on for a few tips.
Where Do You Homeschool?
Before you start labeling file folders, buying pretty storage boxes, or arranging books alphabetically on your shelves, think about where you do most of your homeschooling. And make a list of what you need for homeschooling in each room. (I love lists. They help me organize everything in my homesteading homeschooling work at home mom life.)
In each of our homes, where we homeschool has depended on what we're learning. Basically, we have table time, couch time, music time, and outdoor learning. Once I started thinking in these terms, homeschool organization without a homeschool room got a lot easier.
I keep what I need where I need it. For example, books for couch time go in a basket beside the couch. And nature journals, magnifying glasses, baskets and field guides live in a basket by the front door for foraging lessons and nature studies.
And in our off grid home, table time happens at our kitchen table. Other homeschool families I know use desks, a table in a family room, or even the dining table. And that's just fine. But again, the key is to keep what you need close to where you're going to use it.
During table time we cover handwriting, language arts, art, lapbooks, and any workbook or worksheet activities. And we also do crafts at our kitchen table, which has a pretty indestructible glass top.
Store What You Need Where You Use It
So here's the thing. The best home organizers tell you to store things right in the area where you use them. But homeschool organization without a homeschool room can be tricky for dual-purpose rooms. Like our kitchen, where we eat and homeschool.
I solved the problem by using the lower half of our china cabinet and a large wrought-iron/wood baking rack for school supplies.
The flip-down party of the cabinet houses paints, papers, brushes, and extra markers, pens, pencils, glue sticks, and craft supplies. The drawer holds flash cards. And the bottom cupboards hold our Handwriting Without Tears kits, our extra science kits, and our world puzzles.
There was just enough room for our rolling playdough cart. If you look hard enough, you'll see our art caddy on top with crayons, markers, scissors, etc.
Don't despair if fancy caddies and containers aren't in your budget. Over the years we've used large coffee tins for crayons, diaper wipe containers for markers, and egg cartons to keep little craft beads, buttons, and balls separate.
Keep Books Accessible for Your Kids
Every member of our family loves to read. And we're big fans of the literature-based Sonlight Curriculum, which means we have a TON of books. Not to mention my childhood books, which have accompanied me on several cross-Canada moves.
Because we spend so much time in this part of the house, I keep the previous year's readers and favourite books on the baking rack. That way the kids can easily grab a book that we've already studied to read on their own after lunch, after dinner, or whenever they feel like it.
My 8-year-old is a voracious reader, so I let her read ahead when it comes to Language Arts. I arrange her readers in a small, sturdy open-top plastic box. She takes one book from the front, reads it, and then adds it to the back when she's finished. We also keep extra kids books in bookshelves in the girls' room, and in our family room, where more reading happens.
Shelve It, Hide It, Store It
No matter how much room you have to work with, teach your kids this rule to become a master at homeschool organization: shelve it, hide it, store it. And that doesn't mean to hide your playdough creation under the living room couch.
So here's what I do.
- Homeschool items that are pretty and neat (ie. a book), go on shelves.
- If it's messy or has many little pieces it gets "hidden" in a cupboard.
- Yet to be used, or dangerous for little kids? It gets stored in Rubbermaid totes in the garage.
Homeschool Organization Without a Homeschool Room Never Ends
As a homeschooling family, you may as well embrace the reality of a home that doubles as a classroom (and if you're a work-at-home homeschooling mom like me, an office). As long as you're teaching your kids at home, you'll be organizing your homeschool.
The truth is that I don't want my kids to grow up with the idea that education is confined to four walls and a desk. An important part of our family culture is that learning opportunities are all around us, all the time. Learning is constant and never-ending. And so is homeschool organization!