One of the most common questions homeschool families have is, how do you stay organized? Homeschooling involves so much, and you can’t store all of it in a bin at the end of the day. Finding a method of staying organized can be key in reducing stresses you don’t need. But figuring out how to get yourself organized can be a lot like choosing a curriculum and homeschooling style. What works for one family may not work for you. We’d like to offer both experienced and new homeschool families a collection of tips, tricks, and techniques to help you be successful and stay organized in your homeschool.
Tips and Tricks for Your Homeschool Room
If you have the room to spare for a dedicated homeschool room, organization can be a lot easier. Your curriculum and supplies always have a room to go to.
- Fill it with shelves. There’s no such thing as too much shelf space.
- Always return supplies to the room. While you and your children should be able to take your work elsewhere if you need to, it will be better for your sanity if you make the expectation that all curriculum and supplies that leave the room return to it. Some parents put baskets out in common areas where items collect, and each basket belongs to a different room. At the end of the day, the baskets return to the rooms they belong to. The next morning, you and your children unpack them and return the baskets to the common areas. As they say, “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
- Give your children separate workspaces. If they habitually distract each other, help them to minimize their distractions. You can separating their workspaces, give them desks at different walls, or by put screens or barriers between them.
Tips and Tricks for Workstations
If you have the space and prefer your children to spread out to do their work, workstations might be a good alternative. Their workstations are their desk area where they always do their work. The workstation can be in their bedrooms, a corner in the living room, an office space, or any open space where a desk will fit.
- Make sure each child’s station is equipped with the appropriate supplies and has space for all curriculum, binders, notebooks, and devices.
- Set up a central area. This area serves as both a resupply station and a place where they can find you if they need help.
- Watch out for increases and decreases in productivity with workstations. It may seem counterintuitive, but at times, children can be more focused and productive when they’re working around others. Isolation isn’t always good for a child’s productivity. Studies in psychology explore social facilitation, which is the phenomenon of a person being more productive in the presence of others.
Tips and Tricks for Wherever the Books Fall
Many homeschool families find that, either because of the space available or just because of personal preference, it works best to just homeschool wherever the books happen to fall. They may be at your dining room or kitchen table, the coffee table, or in all separate directions. And the location can even change from day-to-day.
- Mobile storage units are your friend. If your homeschool space changes every other day, setting up a storage unit that you can roll around will help you stay organized. A rolling book cart can transport all your curriculum, while a rolling set of storage drawers can store supplies.
- Set up a central area for resource storage. Even if your children prefer to go their own way, your books and supplies still need a home when they’re not in use. This home could be some bookshelves in the living room or a repurposed hutch in the dining room.
Tips and Tricks for the Books
One of the biggest parts of your homeschool is your curriculum—your textbooks and resources. How can you make your day-to-day with them a bit easier?
- Label the spines of spiral-bound books. If you use printed teacher editions or resources that use a spiral binding, your life will be much easier if you can aesthetically “label” their bindings. We’ve used simple luggage tags for office copies, but you can also use colored ribbons, keychains, or even paint to make your teacher editions and spiral notebooks stand out on your shelves. If you associate colors with subjects—like green for science, red for math, purple for English, etc.—it’ll be much easier to know which book is which without taking it off the shelf to see the cover.
- Pull out activity pages and worktext pages yourself. BJU Press activity books and worktexts in Grades 3 and under aren’t designed to be used with the pages still in the books. They use a hinge binding so the pages can be easily removed from the book. Children who are still mastering handwriting skills need to write on flat surfaces rather than on books with spines that cause part of the page to curve. Also, if you take out the pages you need instead of giving the books to your children to use, the remaining pages will stay together much better.
Tips and Tricks for Keeping Resources
Often it is wise to keep as much as possible in your homeschool journey. Whether you’re saving for memories or preparing for another child, those resources can be invaluable. But sometimes the space just won’t allow you to keep an abundance of resources. How do you decide what to keep and what to discard?
- Check for updates. If the resources you’re using this year are about to be updated, it’s possible that the worktexts and other consumable materials may not be available when you’re ready to use them again. If you reach out to the BJU Press Homeschool Facebook page, we’re always willing to let you know what updates are coming and what that may mean for the resources you currently have.
- Build a homeschool portfolio. Some states require you to create a homeschool portfolio, but a portfolio is also a convenient and simple way to store homeschool memories. And you can do it throughout the year so it’s not a big project at the end of the year. Most portfolios are either in a three-ring binder or an accordion folder. For state use, your portfolio should include standardized test scores, sample assignments (graded) from each subject, graded tests, graded essays and their associated rubrics, and project pages, notes, and their associated rubrics.
No matter what happens during your homeschool journey, one thing that you should always remember is that the cleanliness of your home has nothing to do with your success as a homeschool parent. Some days you’ll need to prioritize learning over making sure your toddler managed to put all her toys away. And some days you’ll just need to be a parent instead of a teacher. You’re still an amazing parent—even if no one has swept the floor and toddler toys are on almost every visible surface—because you’re homeschooling.