For many parents, one of the perceived benefits of homeschooling is that your child will no longer be losing their homework. After a few months, however, you’ll discover that your child can, in fact, lose their day’s math between the living room and the kitchen. Sure, the dog may have eaten it, but it’s more likely lost in a stack of books, hidden under an ongoing model of the Great Pyramid or stuffed between the couch cushions.
Homeschooling is a great lifestyle choice for many families. Allowing homeschooling to take over your house, though, does not have to be part of that choice. No matter how small or how large your home is, it’s easy to find yourself looking for a free space to eat dinner every night. There are homeschool resources that will help you keep your home functioning as a home, while being friendly to school adventures. Break your organizational efforts into three parts to keep it from feeling like such an enormous project: student organization; parent/teacher organization and space considerations.
1. Homeschool Resources To Help Your Student(s) Get Organized;
Kids=Clutter. When you bring school into your home, expect the clutter to increase! There are numerous ways to teach your children to organize their “stuff” as you homeschool.
- If your children are very young, something as simple as dish pans can be a lifesaver. Put picture books upright in a dish pan for a portable, flip-through library. Use another dishpan to contain things like math manipulatives, and another to hold crayons and markers.
- Use colors! Assign each child a color and stick to it. Pick another color to designate items to be shared. If space is at a premium in your house, give each child a plastic milk crate in their color. All of the child’s books and supplies should be kept in the milk crate. For older kids, give them a supply of hanging folders for their crate to keep papers organized. Store the milk crate under their bed at the end of the school day.
- Sue Patrick hit upon an organization system when homeschooling her son with special needs. She named it the Workbox. She offers complete instructions for implementing the system on her website at no charge. If you are struggling with multiple children, behavior issues, or completing school work in a timely fashion, this is an immensely valuable homeschooling resource. For variations on the system, you will find hundreds of suggestions by using a simply internet search. Aside from Sue’s method, there are various other special education resources available to assist in organization.
- Learn to love lists! As the homeschool teacher, odds are you have some kind of planner (more on that below) – kids are often able to keep track of their own work if you give them a daily or weekly checklist. Pick up a clipboard (make sure it’s in the right color for each child) and give this free, downloadable checklist a try.
- Take a tip from The Homeschool Mom – teach your children early and remind them often “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s not fair to your children if you demand they put their things away if there is truly nowhere to put their things! Consider your child’s height when assigning storage spaces as well. If you want your kids to really help keep the house organized, it’s more likely to happen if they can easily reach things.
2. Homeschool Resources To Help You Get Organized;
- Stick with the plan. There are hundreds of planners available for free or for purchase. The trick is finding a method of keeping track of your child’s school work, planning for the future, keeping track of outside activities, and staying on top of other responsibilities. Household binders are one of the more popular homeschool resources for staying organized. You create a notebook that covers your specific needs using free and paid downloadable forms, charts, and checklists. It’s easy to change as your life changes and you always have what you need at your fingertips.
- Learn to manage your time. Sure, part of the beauty of homeschooling is the freedom you have to do as you like each day. However, if you are starting each day without even a rough idea of what needs to get done or how it’s going to get done, you are in danger of getting nothing done! What better homeschooling resource for time management than reading how four formerly homeschooled women who are now homeschooling their own children do it! It is entirely possible to effectively homeschool your children and manage the rest of the household duties – you just need to find the method that best suits your own family.
- Don’t fall into the trap of homeschooling all week while the house falls to ruins and then spending your weekend scrubbing, cleaning and putting things away only to start it all again the next week. Finding a plan to help you maintain your house throughout the week is one of the best homeschool resources you will ever find! If you like specific day-to-day instructions and a computer based system, give FlyLady a try. She’s helped tens of thousands of families take charge of their homes. If, however, you prefer to set up your own system, look to FakingMartha for a self-directed, a computer-free method.
3. Homeschool Resources To Help Get Your Space Organized;
No matter how organized you and your children are, if your house has not been set up to be homeschool-friendly, you are going to end up wasting time and getting frustrated. You do not need a big house full of custom-built bookshelves in order to succeed at homeschooling. You do, however, need an imagination and a willingness to experiment until you find what works. The internet is packed with homeschool resources that help give you organizational inspiration. There are blogs and pictures showing every conceivable way of arranging a homeschooling home. The trick is finding something that clicks with your home and your budget.
- If you have a room that you can dedicate solely to homeschooling, congratulations! And, while others may covert your extra space, you know that it’s not so easy to keep everything contained in a logical way in just one room. For inspiration, check out some of these dream homeschool rooms. When organizing your own room, keep these five things in mind:
- Use furniture that fits your children and keep their supplies where they can reach them easily. With very young children, you will get a lot more mileage out of a old kitchen table cut down to their height than you will from individual desks that are better suited to adults.
- Take time to label containers. You will NOT remember that that lovely decorated shoebox contains the 25 rolls of scotch tape you picked up on sale last fall. Put a sticker on the front and write down the contents! You’ll save time and money.
- Don’t overspend. As you kids get older, you will find yourself seeking new ways to arrange their workspaces. Pick up sturdy secondhand furniture and bookshelves and spruce them up with a coat of paint.
- Before you move anything into the room, make a list of all of the electronics you use on a weekly basis – phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, printer, television pencil sharpener, sound system, vacuum? Does the room have enough outlets to handle the load. If not, call the electrician and get that taken care of. Otherwise, you’re going to end up scattered all over the house.
- Make it fun. This is still a room in your house! It should reflect your personality (and your kids’ personalities) and be inviting. Make it a room you all want to spend time in – because you will be spending time there. Consider painting one wall with chalkboard paint or string a clothesline along one wall to use to display artworks.
- What if you don’t have a designated homeschool room? For many people, even if they have room, they dislike spending the day in one room of their house. You can incorporate homeschooling into your house without it taking over. It may involve rethinking storage options and how you use different rooms in your home, but it can be done.
- Some people live by the words “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Homeschoolers like by the words “You can never have too many books or too many bookshelves.” Your homeschool resources are of no use if you cannot easily find them. Bookshelves throughout your house provide attractive storage and minimal usage of floor space. Ikea’s Billy bookcases are favorites among homeschoolers. In addition to being affordable – you can add doors to hide messy supplies and they are surprisingly sturdy.
- Think double-duty. Replace your coffee table with a trunk. Voila! Storage for art and science supplies. If your kitchen table has seen better days, refinish it with a world map. (Or for the very bold homeschooler . . .)
- Make record keeping a priority. Keep homeschool samples for each child for each school year. Put sample into a manila envelope and label. Store manila envelopes in a cardboard banker’s box. When the box is full, label the years and put it away in the attic. Do you have a tough time parting with your child’s artwork? Save only as much as a clean, empty pizza box will hold for a year. Label the side of the box. This will keep it from taking over your house.
Homeschooling and having a pleasant, organized home are not mutually exclusive. It might take a few tries until you find a method of getting and staying organized that feels natural to you. Look to your homeschool resources – especially homeschooling blogs and homeschool-related Pinterest boards – for guidance and inspiration. And, when you figure it out, be sure to share so the next round of homeschoolers can learn from you!