Ten-plus years into our family’s homeschooling adventure finds me still locked into a power struggle with this monster-sized dilemma:
How to organize the homeschool space.
And, most importantly, how to keep it organized.
I’ve got five kids, in five different grades, all toting around an undisclosed number of books, papers, and paraphernalia- per child and per subject.
It is any wonder that I sometimes feel like my house will eventually implode into a black hole comprised entirely of paper and broken pencil shards?
So how does one mama keep it all together?
Well, I don’t know because I don’t keep it all together.
But I try!
I know you try too, so let’s put our heads together:
- My part is, I write the post in which I share with you six hacks for organizing your homeschool space.
- Your part is, leave a comment at the end of this post and chime in with your challenges, ideas, and/or solutions.
—–> And a confession is, of course, immediately in order:
I still haven’t figured out how to keep it all organized.
When I do get it all figured out, I promise: there will be a post.
But don’t hold your breath.
This year, our family is super blessed to have a portable building in our two-acre backyard, which we’ve recently converted into a tiny “school house.”
But the majority of our decade of home education has happened at the good old dining room table (you know the one!).
Just in case you’re wondering:
No, my life isn’t always organized.
Yes, we have plenty of crazy days with our homeschooling.
Yes, I am a problem solver and I love finding or creating solutions to issues that plague me- like homeschool clutter.
The hacks I’m about to share are helpful, but most years I haven’t implemented all of them all of the time.
And you don’t have to, either. (Unless of course you want to.)
These are my most helpful and useful ideas for keeping homeschool spaces fun, beautiful, and in order (most of the time).
They have worked for our family for lots of years, whether we were “doing school” on the bedroom floor, at the kitchen table, or in a school room.
(By the way: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so the images and links below will take you to the Amazon site when you click on them. If you make a purchase, Amazon will pay me a small percent of what you spend (at no additional cost to you). This is one of the ways bloggers make money. Thank you for supporting this lifestyle blog!)
#1 Think Closets, Shelves, and Drawers
My friend, do not despise the day of small things.
Eight years ago our family moved from a four-bedroom home on five acres, to a two-bed room rent house on a busy street in a Fort Worth suburb.
In that little rent house, the only designated homeschool “area” I had was a standing wicker shelf (in the one-and-only-kid’s bedroom) and the good, old, reliable dining room table.
A year later, our family upgraded to our current home (an early twentieth-century “farm house”) and the homeschool area moved into a large closet in the living room, and- you guessed it- the dining room table.
I’ve pretty much always had to make do with whatever I could find for creating a space for stashing our many books, supplies, and everything else that homeschooling families consider necessary.
Most of the time, what I end up with are spaces like closets, shelves, or drawers.
Or, if I’m lucky, a combination of all three.
And, if I’m really lucky, the said closets, shelves and drawers might all be in the same room.
But not always.
If you’re feeling like your homeschooling supplies are crowding in on your home life, take a long hard look at what spaces might be available for repurposing:
- Could you clean out a drawer or a cabinet and use it to organize your school supplies?
- Is there a closet- or a space within a closet, like a shelf- you could use to set up a mini homeschool office area?
- Could you mount a shelve, or a few shelves on an unused wall space?
To keep your spaces tidy and usable, invest in a few inexpensive organizing systems.
The ones below are some of our favorites:
Get creative (are you overlooking something?).
Get brutal (with cleaning out that junk drawer or clearing a cluttered shelf).
Get humble (because your homeschool space might or might not end up looking Pinterest-worthy).
The biggest homeschool organization hack I can give you is to use what you already have, be creative, and just make it work.
#2 Get Your Kids Some Backpacks
I know, I know… your kids are homeschoolers. They don’t need backpacks.
But they really do.
When my two oldest kids were just tiny preschoolers, I took them to Wal-mart and let them pick out backpacks. They so were excited about “starting school,” so it just made sense that my girls needed backpacks like all the other school kids.
But the honest truth is that I needed a place to contain their school work.
We were living in a tiny, two-bedroom house (a different tiny house), and I won’t even bother mentioning where we did school work. (But, yes, it starts with “kitchen table.”)
We relied on the backpacks for containing papers, storing school books and supplies, and stashing school work away at the end of the morning.
Over the years, the backpack method stuck with us.
All five of my kids have their own backpacks and it’s where they keep the majority of their school work.
As my kids have gotten older and their book loads have grown heavier, we’ve learned to stick with canvas backpacks, like this one.
Backpacks are a life-saver if :
- you are a homeschooling family who travels a lot.
- you participate in a weekly homeschool community.
- your kids are enrolled in extra curricular classes or sports.
- your kids are always losing their books and school supplies.
Did I convince you yet? *wink*
#3 Designate A Learning Space (or three)
If you’re already running low on space or organization skills, maybe you wonder how in the world designating a “learning space” is practical or helpful.
Let me assure you, it’s both!
—–> A “learning space” can literally be anything and anywhere:
A literal “space” (a corner, a room, or a desk) or something special that you bring into a space.
Consider the following “learning spaces” our family has used or created over the years:
- an area rug
- a small desk painted in a favorite color
- a special place mat at the kitchen table
- a basket of books
- a jar of alphabet-shaped cookie cutters
- a bean bag chair in a “reading corner”
- a chalk/white board and easel
- a lamp and a small corner table
- personal cork boards on a wall
- a secretary desk in a living room corner
- a small table with book shelves nearby
Anything that says This is your time and your and place to learn, can be a “learning space.”
They don’t have to be fancy, official, or very big at all.
I’ve found that my kids naturally gravitate to and love these “learning spaces.”
#4 Cultivate Personal Space (for you)
I’ve learned that it’s important for me to have a space too.
Currently, I have a small desk in our “school room,” as well as a mini office corner in our bedroom (much like the one pictured below).
I’m a highly visual person, so I try to keep my space beautiful as well as useful.
My personal space as a home educator (and aspiring-writer) includes things like these:
#5 Invest in a Few Crates
When we joined our Classical Conversations community last year, I bought two rolling crates for hauling books and supplies on community day.
This year my girls are using the crates, even at home.
The girls are in seventh and tenth grades, respectively, so their piles of books, notebooks, and supplies are pretty intimidating (even for a canvas backpack!).
We’ve found these crates to be a worthy investment.
My girls each have a different color crate, which helps keep things not only organized but personal and fun too.
#6 Simplify, Don’t Deify
At the end of the day, here’s the honest truth:
My house still gets cluttered with homeschool debris, no matter how many hacks and tricks I implement.
As much as I love organization and crave perfection, I have to admit that a Pinterest-worthy house or homeschool space is not the Holy Grail of home education.
—–> Winning and discipling my precious children’s hearts is.
So that means these hacks are simply a measure to keep everyone- mainly Mom or Dad- sane during that process!
As much as I enjoy tackling problems like reducing clutter, organizing small spaces, and creating welcoming nooks for my kids, it’s pretty easy for me to view our home as “holy ground” instead of a space for living and learning.
I also tend to attach my own self-worth to how well I’m educating my kids, or how organized and streamlined our lives feel at any given season.
That is all rubbish.
Education is a life,” as Charlotte Mason so eloquently stated.
And life gets messy.
In my corner of the world, anyway.
My ultimate “hack,” dear mama, is this:
Simplify your life so that you may live in reasonable order, but don’t deify your home.
Being organized is fun- for people like me, anyway.
But it won’t make us more holy or more loved by God.
God treasures messy moms with messy kids, just as much as He does organized moms who also have messy kids. *wink*
What are your best hacks for organizing your homeschool space?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Drop a comment below, and don’t forget to hit a “share” button to spread the love.
Here’s to living and loving well-