Each homeschool is different, but every homeschool requires one essential feature—organization! No matter your homeschooling style, from highly structured to relaxed, organization is a must—at least, to some degree. Without it, homeschooling can be confusing, frustrating, time-consuming, and chaotic. Just as there are many different ways to homeschool, there are also many different ways to organize. Whether you’re an organizing pro looking to find new tips or a bewildered beginner wondering where to start, you’ll find lots of helpful ideas for your homeschool room or for storage here. The beauty of organizing is that you can always rearrange, try new methods, and mix and match ones you already use.
Remember your Purpose for Homeschooling
Before you begin your organizing project, take some time to evaluate your goals, values, and purposes in homeschooling. Why did you decide to homeschool your children? Whatever the reason, it will influence the choices you make, not only in your curriculum and schedule but also in the way you manage and organize your homeschooling space. Maybe you decided to homeschool so you could enjoy more flexibility in your family schedule. Your organization tools will reflect that. For example, you may choose to use dry erase boards or chalkboards for easily changing days and assignments. Or, you might choose to keep school books in portable carts to take with you on spur-of-the-moment car trips.
Think of Your Child’s Needs
Another aspect to consider before organizing is what fits your child’s needs the best. Is your child easily distracted? Setting up a separate homeschool room away from noise, clutter, and activity will be optimal for them to concentrate. Does your child like a place for everything and everything in its place? You may want to consider separate labeled bins or shelves for storing textbooks, supplemental books, and supplies. Involve your child in the organizing process by letting them choose colors, folders, and the type of containers they will use for crayons, pencils, markers, erasers, and other school supplies. As much as possible, place items where your child can easily reach them. This will save both of you time and frustration.
Lay Out Your Homeschool Room or Space
Keep an open mind. Remember, your homeschool room doesn’t need to look like a classroom. The goal is to create a homeschooling environment that’s neat, bright, and conducive for learning. It should be an area where your child can easily find and reach everything they need for the school day without excessive clutter.
What to Include in Your Homeschool Space
- A work area with a solid flat surface. A desk or table where you can leave schoolwork out and not have to put it away after each use will be best. For homeschooling multiple children, one large table where everyone can sit together works well.
- A well-lit space. Dim lighting makes seeing and staying alert difficult. A room with one or more windows is ideal. If that’s not possible, make sure overhead lights or lamps are bright enough for children to see clearly.
- Comfortable seating. Hard, uncomfortable seats make it hard for children to concentrate.
- Organizational units and shelves. Think bookshelves, rolling carts, cabinets, cupboards, hutches, and storage cube units. Storage cube units are especially helpful; you can use them with or without fabric bins to hold all kinds of essential homeschooling materials.
Know Your Homeschool Storage Options
Take stock of storage options you may already have in your own house. Many of us already have storage options we haven’t considered yet hidden away in dusty, unused corners of closets and cabinets.
- Got extra shoeboxes, photo boxes, or plastic totes? These work great for storing past schoolwork and art projects. They are also handy for organizing craft and art supplies.
- If you have empty glass jars, you can use them to store pencils, pens, markers, and crayons. Tin cans and plastic cups work, too. Just be sure to label them!
- Many of us have a set of rolling plastic drawers somewhere in the house. These are an inexpensive, effective way to store notebooks, folders, and papers.
- Perhaps you have a spare dresser with drawers. This works great for storing extra notebooks, folders, paper, craft and school supplies, or anything else you might need for school.
- If that tacklebox in the garage hasn’t been used in months, clean it up and use it to organize your math manipulatives.
- Mount a magnetic knife holder on a wall to hold scissors.
- Don’t throw out ice cube trays; they’re ideal for storing tiny items such as paper clips, marbles, beads, and paper fasteners.
Homeschool Organization Ideas for Small Spaces
Many families are also considering homeschool organization for small spaces. Whether you’re road schooling or have limited space available in your home, you can also create a well-organized homeschool area even if you’re short on space.
- Convert a closet using the shelves for a desk and overhead storage. A peg board and mounted wall light add a nice touch.
- Maximize wall space by mounting your jars or canisters!
- Adding shelves, a hutch, or a built-in desk to a wall will provide a structured school area in just about any room.
- Switch out a floor bed with a raised bunk bed with desk and storage space underneath for a study and schooling area in your child’s room.
- Rolling storage carts provide a smart storage solution for small spaces. You can store books and supplies and roll them into a closet to keep them out of the way.
- Buy only what you need; resist the temptation to stock up on materials that will take up unnecessary storage space.
- Look for unused spaces in your home, even behind doors and inside closets or cabinets.
- Got a hanging shoe organizer you’re not using? Since they hang on doors, it will free up precious counter, table, and wall space and allow you to keep items handy such as flashcards, math manipulatives, craft sticks, cotton balls, and other small lightweight objects.
- Chalkboard walls and small hanging chalkboards are ideal for keeping track of assignments, schedules, and events.
- Use stool storage, chair desks with storage bins, chests, and ottomans to store homeschool supplies when not in use.
Organize Your Homeschool Curriculum
It’s best to organize curriculum by student and grade, especially when homeschooling multiple children. An easy way to remember what you need for storing curriculum sets is the three B’s: bookshelves, bins, and baskets.
- Bookshelves. A wide variety of bookshelves offer plenty of creative ways to store your curriculum. You can designate a shelf for each child, starting with the top one for the oldest and working down to the bottom shelf for the youngest. Not only will it help you keep things organized, but itwill also make it easier for your kids to locate and grab what they need.
- Bins. If you prefer to keep textbooks and workbooks separated by subject, these are a convenient option. Clear plastic bins let your child see exactly where all their books are. If fabric bins work better for you, you can either label them or use a different color for each subject.
- Baskets. Since these come in so many different sizes and shapes, they provide lots of storage options. And they can be stacked and put away when not in use, making them a great space saver.
Storing Homeschool Paperwork
Three-ring binders are extremely useful for keeping work sheets, handouts, extra notebook paper, and tests together. Designate one binder for each subject so you won’t have to rifle through a pile of papers searching for something. Many homeschooling moms prefer a cascading vertical filing system that hangs on the wall to keep their kids’ daily papers organized. This is especially ideal if you homeschool multiple children. You can buy several different colors of folders and assign each of your children a color. You can also get a fun patterned or character folder to temporarily store graded papers in. Another organization tool for filing papers is a standard filing cabinet or an accordion-style filing system. These are particularly helpful for storing paperwork from multiple years.
Storing Separate Curriculum Pieces
- Keep teacher’s editions and answer keys in a designated container such as a tote or basket. If you have an extra cabinet or cupboard, you can use that, too.
- Store supplemental reading books in a special marked bin or basket. Assign each child their own container so they know where to retrieve and put away their books.
- Binders. It’s almost impossible to organize without these! Not only do they keep papers from getting lost, torn or wrinkled, they are also easy to stand upright on bookshelves or in baskets. These are perfect for storing handouts, tests, construction paper, notebook paper, coloring and activity sheets. Use different colors or labels to separate grades and subjects.
Organizing Your Homeschool Day
You also may want to consider purchasing a homeschool planner to keep track of calendar events, semester goals, outings, lesson plans, and ideas. Some planners include extra features such as planning weekend activities, cleaning routines, dinner menus, and library events. Check out Megan’s recommendations for the best homeschool planners! If you’re homeschooling with BJU Press, you’ll also definitely want to check out the Homeschool Hub as your free digital planner.
• • • • •Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.