Organizing Your Homeschool

For many families with young children, our homes can tend to look less tidy than we would prefer. Hot wheels and Barbie dolls scatter the living room landscape, artwork hangs sideways by a magnet on the refrigerator, and velcro-fastening shoes seem to multiply on a nightly basis. Add to this all the "stuff" that comes along with doing school at home and you could have yourself a mighty mess. Don't jump the gun and go hire a Professional Organizer just yet. In this article, I'll share some tips that have helped curb the clutter here at The Clark Academy Of Excellence.

  • Go Paperless. - OK, OK, I know that's not feasible, especially when you have children practicing handwriting, doing crafts and keeping journals but do as much as you can to keep the paper to a minimum or AT LEAST keep it organized! Here's how we do it: For art projects, we have an "art line" in the bonus room. It's like a clothes line except we hang artwork on it. Simply attach a string (we used some decorative ribbon) to each end of the room and use clothespins to fasten the papers. For other papers, we have a binder that holds our work for each week. Handwriting is one thing that I like to keep so that we can see progress over time. We do a lot of our math work on our chalkboard so there aren't a lot of math worksheets to keep. Not every piece of work your child does needs to be kept. If you don't need to keep it, throw it out! Another innovative way to go paperless: Consider scanning your child's work at regular intervals and keeping digital scans. Many scanners will scan multiple documents into one .pdf file. You could also upload your child's work to a blog and let them keep an on-line journal of their work.
  • Have A Designated Space For Your Supplies - So many of us dream of that extra room that we could use for a scrap-booking, craft or sewing room. Homeschoolers may also dream of having a school room. While that's not realistic for many of us, it is realistic to have a dedicated space to keep supplies. An old armoire can be refurbished to cleverly hide supplies in a public part of the house or you could use a less attractive old metal cabinet and store items in your garage. Either way, having a place to keep books, papers, crayons, and glue is essential to being organized. The mantra "a place for everything and everything in it's place" is a useful one. Spending twenty minutes looking for the scissors every time you need to do an art project is not an efficient use of your time and can frustrate your children as well as their teacher.
  • Workboxes - The workbox system is all the rage right now for homeschool organization. We do not utilize it currently but I can envision doing so as I begin formally schooling multiple children and as we get into more "seat work" as the children get older. Essentially, workboxes are ways to store a child's daily required lessons into individual folders or boxes by subject. The child knows what is expected of them each day and work stays organized. You can purchase a system ready to use or modify the idea to your needs as found at the-ella-echo.
  • Use Clean Up Time As School Time - With young students especially, tidying up between activities is useful not only for keeping your home clean but can be used for teaching as well. Are there toys all over the floor? Sorting is an important math skill for early elementary children. Look at your clean up time as part of your school day. You are instilling good habits and values in your children as well as teaching them to sort and classify. A bookshelf can be organized alphabetically by title and then on another day by author. Spatial skills are honed when a child puts away pots and pans and figures out where to place them and what will fit where. Clean up time is a regular part of "regular" school and should be incorporated into your home school as well.

Those Barbie dolls and tiny race cars may still pose a threat to you in the middle of the night but if you employ some simple organization tips, you'll be on your way to a well organized home school environment.


Julie Clark is a writer and content contributor for LessonPathways.com, an innovative new product that maps online educational resources into ready to teach units. She is a homeschooling mother of three children, executive assistant to her husband, a blogger (TheClarkChronicles.com), and Foster Care Coordinator for a nationally acclaimed mental health agency.

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