We first had a homeschool room three years after we began homeschooling. Before then we homeschooled in our dining room. That set-up was working out fine, but my husband had a hard time with eating meals while paint, play dough, or some part of a science project sat on the table alongside his food. So we converted our front porch into a homeschool room/playroom. Yes, you read that right. Our homeschool room is also our playroom. How does that work? It requires a lot of organization!
Whether you have a dedicated area or use a space that serves double duty like I did with my dining room, these principles still apply.
Keep Only What You Need
- We do not keep all of our schoolbooks in our schoolroom, only books that are in the homeschool lessons plans for that week. Any books not being currently used are organized by grade level on our living room bookshelves.
- The same goes for craft supplies, puzzles, and manipulatives. We have a closet in our living room that is designated for these items. As we need them, we bring them out into the homeschool area. This keeps our homeschool room more organized and takes up less space.
Organize Small Items
- The organizing drawers I purchased from Amazon have become one of my favorite homeschool room helps. I am able to organize all our flash cards, pushpins, magnets, stickers, paper clips, and other small items in one spot. My children’s favorite drawer is the missing pieces drawer. When they go to play a game, or put together a puzzle and a piece is missing, they know where to look! And most of the time they find it there.
- We also have three plastic drawers in our schoolroom that hold extra markers, glue, crayons, and pencils. This way when a child can’t find a pencil, or they need glue, it is right there within reach.
- Pencil boxes are a great way to keep small items like glue, scissors, crayons and pencils organized for each student. Give each of your children one of his own to keep with school books.
- See this Pinterest board for lots more ideas for creating a homeschool area.
Give Your Children Their Own Space
- Each of my children has a school cubby. This is where they keep their schoolbooks, papers, and pencils. They are responsible for keeping their school space neat. They also cannot complain to me when they can’t find a book. This puts responsibility on their shoulders, and helps teach them to stay organized. You can also use fabric bins, plastic drawers, or crates to give your child space for their school books.
- Each child also has their own school space. My boy has a little table that keeps him away from his sisters. The girls have their own sides of a large white table. When each student has his own designated area, there are no arguments over who gets what spot and whose materials are in what area.
- Another great idea for giving children their own space is using sets of plastic drawers for all of the paper clutter —you know — the arts, crafts, and coloring sheets that may not be worth keeping in a portfolio but that the kids still want to hold onto? You can use inexpensive plastic drawers and designate a drawer for each child. Make sure you set a time each month for the kids to clean out the drawer or it will become too messy to be helpful.
Keep Teacher’s Guides Together
- All of my teacher’s guides for the school year are together near my desk. This way when I want to grade papers, all my books are near me. I don’t use them all every day, but I still keep them together.
- I also keep my planner with the teacher guides so I can record grades, school days, and the lessons we completed.
Have a Filing System
- On my teacher’s desk I have a file system with three trays: Graded, To Grade, and To File. My children place their completed work into the To Grade tray. After I check them, I put them Graded for the children to put away.
- To File is where I store things that need to end up in the homeschool portfolios I go through this once a month or so and organize the portfolios with the new work.
Keep Toys Out of School
- Keeping toys out of your school area is hard, especially when you your homeschool space is also your playroom. But, it is important to do if you want your older children to stay focused. We have an imaginary line dividing our room. The little kids know they need to keep their toys on the play side of the room. If they want to be noisy with their toys, they can take them to their rooms and play freely.
- I also keep the table facing the window so the older kids have their backs to the younger children. This helps limit distractions.
- Another great idea is to have educational activities that the younger children can play with while the big kids are doing school. These can include counting bears, stacking blocks, play dough, puzzles or something else educational. This strategy keeps the noise down, the little ones busy, and toys out of sight. Plus it sets the tone that the homeschool area is for learning. You could designate a shelf in your school space, a tote, or a drawer for these items.
Use Wall Space Selectively
- When we first began homeschooling in our schoolroom, I covered every inch of the wall with posters, signs, and other learning resources. The room seemed cluttered, and was overwhelming! Now, I have learned to use our wall space effectively by hanging only the posters that I know we need and will use regularly.
- For example, I always keep up the ABC chart because I have a preschooler learning his alphabet and a second grader who still sometimes flips her b’s and d’s around. A grammar chart explaining the parts of speech is important this year as my oldest is learning that concept. We removed the simple addition charts, shapes, and colors as those have been mastered or are not being taught right now. Think about what your children are learning this year, and maximize your wall space without making the environment too busy.
- School does not have to be done in a school room every day. We move out into the kitchen for math, and I teach my preschoolers in the living room to give my older daughters space while they work. If the girls want to, they can take their work into their bedrooms. We have to be flexible as homeschool parents because learning can and does happen anywhere!
- So creating a homeschool area is a wonderful perk, but it doesn’t mean that you are tied to that area.
Organizing a homeschool space is going to look different in each home. The key is to find what works for you and your family. The first year we had our schoolroom we moved it around, reorganized, and ditched many plans. However, after some rearranging we found what works for us. You can too! It just takes some time and practice.
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About the Author
Residing in Southern Ohio, Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a free Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started.
She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.