Ultimate Guide To Homeschool Organization For Beginners

A variety of colorful binders and office supplies neatly organized on white shelves, representing homeschool organization, with text overlay 'Ultimate Guide To Homeschool Organization For Beginners' by SpecialEdResource.com.

Have you ever walked into a room and thought, “Wow! What happened in here”? We can all attest to this at least once in our lives. 

But if you are a homeschooling family, you might see piles of notebooks and papers, school supplies, and even important documents strewn where they should not be. 

This type of disorganization causes additional overwhelm and stress in any homeschooling household. But even more so when you have special needs kids.

I homeschooled five kids and three were special needs. Being organized in your homeschooling journey is the key to having a successful year. 

When you homeschool, paperwork, supplies, and textbooks can accumulate quicker than you realize. Start with one of my seven favorite homeschool organization tips this week. 

 

 #1 Establish a Workstation for Each Child

Workstations are designated areas that you create for your child. This space is designated for that one child to use to complete their schoolwork, take tests, and decorate in their own way.

Giving each child their own workstation will give them a sense of responsibility and ownership. Check out this article on how to set up a learning space

 

#2 Color Coding 

You can do this in several different ways. We had each child pick their favorite color, and all their folders, pencils, etc., would be in that color. They really enjoyed that. But this only works if their color is popular enough for you to find in stores. 

Another way to do this is to give each subject a color. For example everyone uses a red notebook for math and blue one for science.

By color-coding each subject, you can see briefly what your child is working on. Also, color-coding the subjects allows you to store or retrieve needed items quickly. 

 

#3 Organize Assignments by Week

Instead of pulling together textbooks and workbook pages daily, take one day per week to put all those items together for each child. You can reduce clutter from your child’s workstations by only placing that week’s workbook and textbooks out for them to use.

Keep all the unused items on another area or shelf, so your student can stay organized and focused on the goals for that week. 

#4 Keep Meal Planning Organized

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of online resources to help you with meal planning. You can plan your meals weekly or monthly.

Along with meal planning, you can create a grocery list to go with it. This will help you stay on budget and keep you organized. 

#5 Utilize a Planner

Decide what type of planner works best for you and your homeschooling family. Many families find that combining household appointments with the homeschool schedule works best.

You can use a digital or paper planner. Many people combine the two. The secret to your success is using what works for your situation. 

#6 Be True to Yourself and Your Family 

Don’t get lost in the idea that you must do what other homeschooling families do. What works for them may not be helpful to you and your family.

Every family is unique in how they approach homeschooling and why they choose to homeschool.

Stay faithful to your calling and focus on what you and your children need from your homeschooling experience. 

#7 Declutter all Areas of Your Life

Take a minute to look around your home. Do you notice areas that seem to collect more clutter than they should? How does that make you and your family feel?

Homeschooling can take over your entire house, so you must be purposeful and declutter your life in all areas. Clutter is known to cause stress and overwhelm in adults and children.

If you want your family to succeed in your homeschooling journey, then take time to remove unused books, paperwork, and furniture. 

 Now that we have discussed tips on getting organized, let’s talk about staying organized. Many people find keeping the home organized easier than the initial organizing.

So, to combat this problem, let’s talk about how to keep organized.

 

How To Stay Organized

Getting organized is one thing, but staying organized is an entirely different beast. When you work, live, and attend school at home, there really isn’t any extra time to organize a mess.

Instead, it would help if you organized your day purposely as you go about it. Otherwise, you risk getting off track.

● Keep a visual reminder of what needs to be accomplished throughout the school year. Wall-sized calendars offer enough space to write in test dates, special events, and holidays. These calendars wouldn’t replace your daily or weekly planner but instead, give you space for important reminders.

● When grading your children’s work, don’t wait until the end of the week. Instead, take time each day to grade their work and file it accordingly. This will keep paperwork from piling up.

● Once your child completes a lesson, have them place the completed schoolwork into a designated hanging file. This will allow them to continue working on the next subject and prevent the work from potentially being misplaced or from being stacked on a surface.

● If you and your children take more time than necessary to complete a subject or task, try setting a timer. Timers are a low-cost tool that brings accountability to everyone in the household.

Give each child an age-appropriate amount of time to complete their daily tasks. This allows your child to show maturity and responsibility for their time management. 

Life skills are just as important, if not more, than curriculum knowledge. You can accomplish more than you initially thought by including chores such as housework, yard work, and even personal finance into your daily homeschool curriculum.

A great example is using cooking to help master related science or math skills.

The more organized you are, the better your homeschooling experience will be for you and your family. Remember that your children learn best by example, so if you struggle with organization, they might have that same struggle.

There are dozens of online resources available to homeschooling families today, so take some time to see if you can find additional inspiration and ideas. 

Perfection is Not Attainable

 Homeschooling your children can sometimes seem overwhelming, mainly because you are in your home for more hours throughout the day, so you are always aware of what tasks must be done.

There will always be laundry to wash and put away, dishes to clean, and meals to cook. 

 Searching online or visiting the homes of your fellow homeschooling families can bring a sense of guilt. Be prepared by reminding yourself how much you can accomplish in your schooling days and the resources you have at your disposal.

Not every homeschooled family has the same amount of time, children, or space to create Pinterest-worthy homeschooling classrooms.

 Remember that what works for other families may not work for yours. For example, you might have a homeschooling friend who lives in a bigger house with a large amount of space, whereas your home is of modest size.

So, be honest about what you can and cannot do in your home regarding organization. 

 

Creative Use of Small Space

 Do  you have an unusally small living area? Check out these tips for organizing your homeschool just for you! 

– Wall Space

We often forget that the walls in a room can be used for organization. If you are homeschooling in a small house, begin by measuring the walls in your homeschool classroom area.

Give each child a shelf and show them where to place their books and supplies. You may also benefit from painting a wall with chalkboard paint and using that to teach lessons. 

– Stacking Up

There are dozens of wheeled carts that have the benefits of having drawers and can be safely stacked onto one another. These carts can house supplies for each student.

Be sure to label the drawers to make it easier for your child to put their items in the proper place.

– Available Door Storage Space

Your home’s doors may offer additional organizational space. There are all types of pocket-style door-hanging organizers available. We uses those made for shoes to organize art supplies and health and beauty products in the bathroom. 

You could even hang one on each bedroom door, where the children can place their reading books, extra pens, and journals.

 – Lap Desks

Try your hand at using a lap-style desk. These come in various colors and sizes, and many even have a cup holder.

This creates portable learning spaces that can take place on the couch or floor in any room.

But this option works best for children who can easily move the desk off their laps without asking for help.

– Backpacks

We enjoyed being able to take our schooling outside or to a coop. Backpacks made this easy! We gave each child their own backpack to use to hold their books and supplies.

This option affords you and your child some independence while not taking up much space. This option allows the child to carry their books from one room to another (or anywhere) easily. 

– Clipboards

We didn’t neccessarily have a small house, but we had eight kids at home at one time. There just wasn’t enough table space for everyone to work at the same time.

So another really easy homeschool organization item we used was clipboards. It made it easy to do work anywhere. And you can find them at Dollar Tree so super afforable.

– Refurbished Furniture

Upcycling or refurbishing furniture is another option for optimizing small spaces. For example, you could use an old dresser or a bookshelf to store textbooks, supplies, awards, and prizes.

If you use an old dresser, you can remove the drawers and use that space to store baskets. 

– Floor Space

If you are limited on table and chair space, remember that you can sit on the floor. Depending on the child’s age, you could use beanbags and a lap desk for your homeschool lessons. 

A dedicated space for your homeschooling curriculum and supplies will reduce clutter and create an learning environment. Organizing your homeschool area will also help keep your entire house clean and reduce wasted time searching for missing items like shoes and gloves.  

When you have a dedicated area for each student’s school supplies and textbooks, you teach them an important life skill. One thing you might notice with homeschooling is that life skills are taught with every action or decision you make. 

Paper Clutter and Filing Systems 

Creating a filing system is an important task that should be considered at the beginning of each homeschool year. But don’t worry if you didn’t get that done you can do it now.

Many homeschooling parents choose to file their children’s work a week at a time versus daily. Here are some ideas for setting up your system. 

Simple File System 

Use a large, clear plastic filing box with a snapping lid to hold your papers. This would contain a year’s worth of work for each child. 

Divide each filing box in half for two semesters. Or if you divide your homeschool year into quarters, you will have four sectionss. 

Now, you will need hanging folders or file folders to keep the papers organized. I used two simple filing systems in this one container. The first four folders were labeled: 

  • Needs graded
  • Revise
  • Done
  • Tests

This way my kids could put their papers into the needs graded folder and I would move them either to revise if they had revisions to make or to done if they were completed.

At the end of the week I would move all the done papers into the next filing system based on subject. Each of the next folders were labeled by subject such as: 

  • Reading
  • Math
  • History
  • Science

This organizational system is simple and allows you to easily rotate your child’s papers from one week to another without searching for documents you might need for your child’s portfolio.

 

Visual Reminders

 Most individuals need a visual reminder of what is expected or how to complete a project. Well, homeschooling is no different. In fact, you and your children can benefit from visual reminders.

Think of a unique way to create a daily visual schedule of what is expected to be completed. This is not to say that the child will be able to complete each assignment on that day, but instead, it is a reminder to keep them on target. 

 Visual reminders can be handwritten or created on the computer and printed. When making a visual reminder, remember the age and ability of the child who will be using it.

If the first schedule does not work, then create another one. No rules say you must stick with something if it’s not working. 

Setting your child up to succeed is the number one reason to be organized and offer options for things that are not working. Again, homeschooling permits you and your family to change what is not working. 

Types of Visual Schedules

 You can implement many different schedules into your homeschooling journey, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution. Plan to use different schedules if you homeschool more than one child or multiple grades. 

Here’s a great resource to help you create the ideal homeschool schedule for your family.

The important thing to remember is that having a schedule that works is better than not having a schedule at all. Here are a few different types of visual schedules:  

 

  1. Picture Schedules – This type of schedule uses only pictures. Some children will only understand the picture if it is the exact activity, so be sure to use pictures with one single item without backgrounds. For example use an picture of an apple for snack time and a child sleeping in a bed to represent bedtime.
  2. Pictures and Words Schedule—This might work for you if your child is learning to read and can match the word to the image. However, try another method if the child has difficulties after several attempts.
  3. Written Schedules – This method works best for older children or teens who can easily read. It can be a list of tasks that need done each day or a weekly calendar that can be slid into the front of their binder. 

 

If your child is easily distracted, allow them to carry the schedule with them so they remember what they are working on. Teaching your children how to create and follow their own schedules can also allow you to take a break when needed. Your teens may be able to manage most of their school responsibilities without much direction from you. 

Even though there will be days when your schedule is unexpectedly changed or interrupted, just having a schedule in place and in view can help you get back on task.

As a homeschooling parent, it’s up to you to show your students how to create and follow a schedule daily. 

 

Get the Kids Involved

Get your children involved in the planning and organizing of your homeschool work areas. Depending on their age, you can ask the student to help with a particular area.

If you are working with younger children keep in mind that they can’t reach high areas, nor would you want them to, so try to keep their items closer to the ground. 

Younger children are always looking for ways to be independent, so create an environment where they can feel this way. Ideas would include:

  • Use lower shelves to store their supplies and textbooks.
  • Consider using beanbags instead of chairs and a desk for their reading area.
  • Keep messy paints, glitter, and glue out of their reach.
  • Allow children to pick a bin or storage box for fun activity items.

Younger children often struggle to keep things organized, so consider this when creating their work areas. 

Favorite Organizing Tools

Homeschooling tools used for organizing are only limited to your budget and creativity. Many homeschool families overlook the possibility of upcycling everyday items such as furniture, coffee cans, and other daily-use items that end up in landfills. 

As you homeschool, you will notice that some items end up in piles or don’t really have a home of their own. These items are usually pens, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, and stickers. The longer you homeschool, the more you will notice that you have accumulated supplies. 

If you frequently run out of storage bins, combine arts and crafts activities with upcycling items into useful organizing tools. Tools that you can create could include:

  1. Utensil Holder – Turn a wicker picnic basket or utensil holder into an art caddy for art class. You could put watercolor paints, plastic cups, paintbrushes, and paper towels inside this organizer. 
  2. Glass Jars- Jars of all sizes can hold dice, fake money and coins, and the math manipulatives you use in your homeschooling. 
  3. Magazine holders- are handy for storing picture books, construction paper, drawing pads, and newspapers. You can also turn cereal boxes into a magazine holder. 
  4. Wet wipe containers could hold card games, flashcards, memory cards, and other small items. 
  5. Baskets- Thrift stores sell baskets that could be given to each child to store their own free-time activities, such as coloring books, crayons, and card games. 
  6. Buckets- These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are convenient for holding broken crayons, small scissors, and used markers. 
  7. Lazy Suzanne- is a great tool to place in the middle of your table. It can hold the smaller buckets of supplies. This option allows all the children to sit at one table or location and be accessible. 

Learning to organize is often a lifelong journey, so be patient with yourself and your children as you work together. 

Budgets and Small Spaces

If you teach different subjects quarterly, you could save space and money by only purchasing those items needed at that moment. For example, you would not have to buy a year’s supplies at the beginning of the year. Instead, you could buy just the minimum needed for that quarter. 

 You could store extra supplies or unneeded curriculum in cabinets, storage bins that slide under beds, or even at the top of a closet. Walk through your home and assess what areas are not being used or still have space.

Many homeschooling families are creating an environment of dual-purpose rooms. An example is using the kitchen for classroom time or using the couch for interactive group history lessons. 

Try combining like items into one area. For example, you could store all the art supplies in one location, store all the games in another area, and then place the everyday lessons or textbooks on the same shelf. 

The one thing to remember is to store your homeschooling items in a dry area free of sun or water damage. 

If your child likes to read, give them the bookbag or under-the-bed storage alternative to keep their books in their room. Allowing your child to keep their books close to them will enable them to read whenever they want, plus it saves you space in other areas of the house. 

Teach your children how to place their items in the proper areas. Ask the child to show you how or where to put the items. 

Part of homeschooling is learning that organizing is a never-ending life lesson and requires patience and understanding from everyone involved. 

 

Additional Homeschool Resources

There are dozens of ideas and options available to fit the budget and preferences of today’s homeschooling families. The hard part is just deciding what works best for you. 

I hope you found one of mine that will work for you! The best homeschooling organization is the one that works for you and allows you to be organized throughout the year. Remember, if it’s easy to find, you will use it.

Do you have homeschool organization tips to share? Drop them below in the comments. 

 

 

A variety of colorful binders and office supplies neatly organized on white shelves, representing homeschool organization, with text overlay 'Ultimate Guide To Homeschool Organization For Beginners' by http://SpecialEdResource.com.
The one thing that made homeschooling 6 kids easier was getting organized! Here are my best tips for homeschool organization.
Shannah Holt

Shannah Holt

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