The following guest post is by Gabby of MamaGab!
Keeping an Organized Homeschool…Without a School Room
Welcome to my school room, also known as my dining room.
This isn’t one of those dining rooms that no one ever uses. This is the only table in the whole house that can fit our family, so we eat our meals together here every day. And I homeschool here.
We live in a decent-sized home, but with three bedrooms and three children, we’re filling up this 1940s era home fast. When you add in the clutter that comes from homeschooling, it can be hard to make room for it all and keep it neat. But since I hate clutter, I’ve worked hard to keep a pretty organized homeschool.
Assess your needs
I have a high need for peace and organization in our home. We also needed school to be conducted at a table, high enough for the math manipulatives to be out of reach of my son’s sweet little toddler hands.
Confession: I’ve still had to pull a teddy bear counter out of his mouth!
For our needs, the dining room seemed the only logical place for school. Not only does it have a big table, of course, but it’s also in a central location in our home. This means that I can prep lunch or check in on my little boys while my daughter finishes up a tangram picture.
Bring in the Organizational Tools
My husband asked me this vital question: How important is it that your resources are stored where you actually do school?? My response: Very important.
Any professional organizer will tell you that it is always ideal to store things where you use them. It’s simply easier to keep things clean. We have plenty of room in our master bedroom for the school resources, but as I mentioned before, we knew that school needed to happen in the dining room.
Instead of setting up shelves in our bedroom, we put them in the dining room. I know if we didn’t have a shelf unit here, our homeschool resources would be strewn about the whole house, everywhere between the shelving unit and the dining room.
So we purchased this black shelving unit from Target and set it up in our dining room. The khaki boxes were relatively inexpensive as well, and they meet my need for hiding all signs of clutter.
If you can’t afford a new set of shelves, then get creative. Go to garage sales over the summer. Build something. When we were setting up our “school room” in the dining room, my pastor’s wife said they used cinder blocks (concrete blocks) and wooden boards when she first started homeschooling. Hey, you do what works! The goal is organization, and in my mind, neatness is always beautiful.
What’s in my canvas totes? The top box holds my Busy Bag activities which are especially great for preschoolers. My “daily items” tote has teacher essentials like post-its, pencils, the chalkboard for Handwriting Without Tears, crayons, and other essentials. I have a ton of math manipulatives because we use Saxon math, and I chose to purchase all manipulatives for grades K-3 at once.
Store Extras Somewhere Else
While we are sort of OK with having the school room in our dining room, we didn’t want it to be completely over taken by school resources. Our rule is if it’s not on grade level or we won’t use it anytime soon, then we store it somewhere else. For us, that means the attic or even in our master bedroom. We have an entire expensive phonics curriculum that was given to us after my oldest learned to read, but well before my middle child would need it. It stays on top of a shelf in my bedroom, waiting for my son to be ready for it. And it’s not adding more clutter to our dining room.
Make Sure it’s Functional for You and Your Children
I have played around with our shelves and rearranged things several times this year to make sure it works well for me. I’ve also made sure that it works for my kids too.
My 5 year old knows right where the math manipulatives are, so she can get them out during school time while I’m busy changing a diaper. She can also reach the construction paper and other essentials for school. I wanted her to have some independence, which brings out the natural helper in her. And with kids who are 5, 3, and 1, mommy desperately needs a helper! Can I get an amen?
I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a school room. How do you keep it all organized?
If you have advice to share on how you keep an organized homeschool with or without a school room, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment for us!