When preparing for this new school year, it was important for me to make sure we were organized and had a system. I was really nervous this year, mainly because I’m working full time, but school with my boys is most definitely still a priority. My plan was to set us up for success from the very beginning by making things more easily accessible, creating a system that totally works for us. Our school room happens to also be our dining room, so I wanted a place for everything; that way, at the end of the day, our dining room table could be completely cleared of school supplies, books, and projects. Not that it always happens, but at least it’s possible (wink, wink).
So, come take a walk with me around our homeschool area. I like to call this first part of our area the command center because really, that’s what it is. These metal drawers were purchased from IKEA, and they’re so much sturdier than the plastic drawers we used to have. They are perfect for holding our smaller school supplies, paper, notebooks, drawing pads, etc. On top I keep a basket that holds our stickers, Ziggy the Zebra (for our All About Reading program), etc. Above the drawers is a wire basket (found at TJ Maxx) that holds all our test booklets, as well as my hours and grades clipboards. These clipboards are perfect because I can just grab them out, mark down our grades, and be done with it. In Missouri, we also have to keep track of hours (the bane of my homeschool responsibilities, but alas, it must be done). I’ve tried a binder system for everything before, but now I have just one binder for all our lesson plans. I use free printable quarterly and weekly lesson plan forms from Donna Young for Jacob. For Jaden, I use a preschool printable lesson form. We have a basket for all loose school papers/assignments, and then I file them in file boxes every few weeks. Most of Jacob’s work is written in notebooks, though, making it easier to stay organized. He has a specific notebook for each subject. Our All About Spelling tools are kept together, from our spelling board with letter tiles to our spelling and reading boxes with all the file cards for our lessons. I decided to hang our progress charts, so the boys could see their progress and stay motivated to keep trudging ahead throughout the year.
With a smaller space for school, we made some changes to also help us be more efficient with our space. I had a couple of educational posters to hang but no wall space to hang them. So, I bought inexpensive window shades from Lowes; we attached the posters to them with tape/velcro, so now we just pull the poster down when we need it. When not in use, the shades simply roll back up, out of sight, behind our window coverings.
I’d been eyeing the TROFAST systems from IKEA, and I ordered a few of the bins; but Dan built us a set of shelves, saving us quite a bit. The cubbies hold things like art supplies, puzzles, sorting toys, construction paper, foam, Play-Doh, and more. I also found these inexpensive cardboard literature centers at Mardel; they serve as a sort of workbox system for our books, so we’re no longer searching through the bookshelf for the main books we use every single day. Each book has a place. Besides the bookshelf and command center, we also have another shelf with bins for our science project supplies, CD’s, a few art supplies, and more. Ordering a project kit that coincides with our science curriculum has been such a lifesaver. The boys each have their own art caddy this year too, another big change. This actually works pretty well, so they each have their own supplies, and these are used only for school or art projects. The caddies were less than $5 at Mardel and hold pencils, erasers, colored pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, glue, dot paints, and more. I even have room to put Dixie cups and q-tips in Jaden’s box; we use these for projects that require a lot of glue.
Thankfully, Dan finished up our kitchen table too, so now we have a huge space to work on and one that doesn’t wobble. Library books are kept in a basket in the living room, and art projects are hung on the kitchen door above the calendar in a place of honor…. each project so special in its own right.
I’m really excited to share our homeschool space with you, and I hope that it has given you a bit of inspiration for your own space. Most days this area serves as both homeschool and work area, and so far, the system and routines we’ve created are working…. for us. Can’t say I’m not exhausted at the end of the day, but I’m much more confident in how we are doing. If I could give any homeschool organizing advice or insight, it would be to find a system that works for you, and go with it. Set yourself up for success from the very beginning; most of all, don’t compare yourself with others. Do what is right for you and your family.