I have often made the mistake of thinking that organization was everything. It isn’t! While getting organized won’t make you a great homeschooler, it can help.
I used to hate my homeschooling space. It was cluttered, chaotic, and downright ugly. If you have many or young children, you will have to accept a certain amount of chaos. But if your space feels orderly, you and your students will, too. This summer, think about some inexpensive solutions to make a motivating space.
- Get rid of anything you know you aren’t going to use. Give it away, sell it, or trash it if it’s something no one would want. I sold a curriculum book for $2 at a used sale that a woman told me she’d prayed she would be able to get inexpensively. That made purging and selling worth it to me!
- Make everything that you will be using in the upcoming year visible. I know I am not the only homeschooler who forgets she owns something and buys it again! All of my bookshelves are cheap office store purchases. They’re not good quality, but they do the job. If you need more books visible to you, consider buying more bookshelves. Craigslist is a great place to look!
- Put everything you will not be using this year out of sight. The fewer distractions you have, the better. I keep unused materials in storage on even less sturdy shelves organized by science, history, and other.
- Separate individual kids’ materials. I use inexpensive plastic crates for this purpose that I store on bookshelves.
- Create a space to store individual work for the year. I use additional plastic crates to hold files for each school year for each child. Besides being a place to record what we do to adhere to the law, it’s a great place to store memorabilia.
- Create a record keeping system. I’ve tried just about everything and found that a paper system works the best for me. This year, I am combining my love for scrapbooking and junk journals with my homeschool record keeping. I created an album using Ditto products.
- Create a homeschool toolkit. Homeschool teachers don’t have a desk where everything they need to do their job is at the ready. That’s why a mobile toolkit comes in really handy. Find a cute bag to organize all of your essentials. I was inspired by this blog post to create this toolkit:
Inside is my record-keeping journal (this picture was taken before I was done with it), files to hold work completed by each student in the coming year), pens, sticky flags, my label maker, flash cards, and more. The kids’ files from previous years are stored under the sofa table we bought from Craigslist.
- Decorate your space. I recently overheard two school teachers talking excitedly about getting into their classrooms and getting it ready for the school year. Classroom decoration has to be functional, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. My favorite parts of my school space are my pull-down maps I purchased from ebay and the white board/cork board I bought from Craigslist.
Functional, but all the mess is INSIDE.
We purchased our table and chairs from Craigslist also, but the paint and removal of scattered posters and papers from the walls made the biggest difference. Could you put information for your students on a display board that can be put away? Or could you frame them using art or poster frames?
- Pray and ask for wisdom. We know that God will always give us wisdom! Before I made over our school space, I prayed about it. When I was in the middle of the chaos, I honestly didn’t know what to do. But God answered my prayer and gave me a space that motivates me and the kids, too. May He do likewise for you.
Your prescription for happier, healthier homeschooling
You'll receive occasional updates with sanity-saving ideas for your homeschool, family, and faith. Subscriber-only printables and discounts will be sent your way, too. You can choose which content you'd like to receive as well as the frequency.
Hi! I found you through the Happy housewife. This is a great post. I’m in the getting ready for our “New Year” which starts July. I love the idea of a toolkit. I have all kinds of cute bags here. Because you are right I school everywhere and it will be so handy to have it all ready to go where ever we are.
Shelving is my other issue right now. I need to make space for what we are using right now and just keep inventory of what I may want to use later in another space.
Great tips! Thanks again!
Rana, thanks so much. I love that you aren’t rushing out to buy a new bag, knowing that you have what you need. Best wishes with making space for what you’re using. It’s great to have an inventory list of what you aren’t using, but even if you just sort materials by general category like I did, I think you’ll be happy.
I’m really concerned. My (adopted) daughter has emotional problems and is quite defiant, stubborn, and has low self esteem issues. The school just did not know how to deal with her. We want to bring her home, but we have physical disabilities to contend with ourselves. Can we *truly* homeschool her for around 1 1/2 hours each day, or is this only when you’re pressed for time? What is meant by “memory work” for six subjects? Do you mean things like, for math, “what you do on one side, you do also on the other”?
IF we can honestly do the mainstream stuff in 1 1/2 hours, I feel she could concentrate for that long, and then we could work on more fun, supplemental activities from there. I just need to know we can honestly do it.
I’ve thought about giving it a Test Drive this summer, just for a couple days, to see if it could work. What do you think?
Jen, I’m going to email you as there is more than I can address in a blog comment. 🙂
Your last bit of advice is the best! That’s where I am now…praying God will help me figure out how to fit what we need in the space we have!
Brenda, you’re absolutely right! I could really just say pray, pray, pray for every subject, but that would make for a boring blog. 😉 So I’ll blab and then say pray. So happy to find your blog!