Organizing a School Room at Home - %%sitetitle%%

Organizing a School Room at Home

Jessica from Life as Mom is here today sharing how she organizes her homeschool room.  I know many of you homeschool and Jessica offers some great tips for how to keep your supplies under control in whatever space you are using for this task.  Enjoy!

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Years ago when I taught high school English and French, I had a huge classroom, four bulletin boards, numerous cabinets, and a couple file cabinets to help me teach five different preps, or courses. While I certainly needed to organize, I still had quite a bit of space at my disposal.

Today I instruct my own six children at home, four formally, my two preschoolers in a more relaxed way. I teach more than five courses and I have a lot let space to work with. Add the fact that we’ve lived in four different houses over the past seven years of homeschooling. I’ve had to pack and unpack my classroom numerous times. Organization is crucial or I would lose my mind.

Through personal experience and observation of other homeschooling families, I’ve found that there are as many ways to organize the stuff of homeschool as there are methods for education children at home. After seven years of teaching at home, I’ve found a few tricks that help us not to drown in the sea of paperwork and books. These have worked for us whether we had one room dedicated to school supplies or if we simply took over the kitchen table and a closet for a season.

Color Code Everything
Once I started teaching more than one child, I assigned each kid his own color. I use this coding system for notebooks, assignment sheets, folders, and the boxes where each student corrals his work at the end of the day. It saves time and space in my mommy brain if I can narrow down a color instead of hunting for a needle in a haystack of white paper.

clipboards

Waste Not, Want Not
With homeschooling comes an obsession with books. It would seem that one can never have too many. Each year I weed out the ones that I had every intention of using, but never did. I’ve become more relaxed about selling the excess to give us more room, less stuff, and few extra dollars to put toward resources we will use.

Divide and Conquer
It helps to divide what’s left into at least three categories: read alouds/picture books, chapter books, and teaching resources. Next I place them on the shelves according to the size of their readers. Books that the preschoolers enjoy are within easy reach for them while the $100 math text is kept up top where their little hands can’t touch them.

Containerize
Supplies as well as daily schoolwork get containers, Sterilite boxes, of their own. Each child has his own box which holds his clipboard of assignments and to do list, as well as any books that are for his sole use that week. It helps us track down the current chapter book if it’s in his box rather than thrownin the mix of other books we own. His math book and any other texts that we use for his assignments go in the box as well.

tote

Categorize
Likewise, I divide our school supplies into similar boxes into two armoires that my husband added shelves to. Each box is labeled so kids and Papa all know where to return items after use. Our categories include: paper, pens and pencils, markers, crayons, post-its and index cards, fasteners (like tape, staplers, paper clips), measuring tools, math manipulatives, science equipment, craft supplies, folders, notebooks, and binders.

cupboard

Again, this is not an exhaustive list of all the great ways you can put order into your schoolroom. They’ve worked for us for several years. But, as with all good things, change happens, kids grow, and new systems are developed. I’m eager to watch the transformation.

I’m also curious. What do YOU do to organize your schoolroom?

Jessica Fisher, aka FishMama, is on the road to joyful motherhood at www.lifeasmom.com.

Comments

15 Responses to “Organizing a School Room at Home”
  1. 1

    oh that was SO helpful – thank you for this post!
    Courtney

  2. 2

    We’re color coding things, too! We’ve done this a little bit in the past, but this year, I’ve color coded EVERYTHING. It’s really helpful!

    We don’t have a whole school room, and we have little storage space. One thing I have done is to purchase one storage box (approx 11X13X4) for each child, to function as basically an oversized pencil box. It holds pencils, scissors, glue sticks, rulers, and that sort of thing. My oldest’s also holds a dictionary. These are their regular school supplies – and they’re not to be used for anything else than school so they don’t get mixed in with all the craft scissors, glue, crayons, etc. This way, we will always have the needed supplies at hand and never have to stop school and hunt for a good pencil or a missing pair of scissors. =)

  3. 3
    Lona says:

    Here’s a link to my paltry offerings in the organizing sector: http://shadysidefarm.blogspot.com/search/label/Organizing

    Scroll down a ways to see the process of setting up a new homeschool room.

  4. 4
    Anna says:

    We are just starting our first year of homeschooling (tomorrow) so I don’t have a lot of great ideas. I do like the idea to color code for each child.
    Right now I am organizing by subject, so that all the math is in one area on a shelf, including books, manipulatives, etc., all the handwriting is together, and so on…

  5. 5
    Elaine H says:

    I think that I need to get back to color coding my kids stuff as well. The next time I am near an office supply store I think that I will stock up on colored paper – different color of each kid and then a color for me as well.

    We do have a large open bookcase where we keep the majority of our supplies though I have yet to figure out a good way to manage the paper issue other than just going completely digital which might work when I can get the girl on a decent laptop.

  6. 6
    se7en says:

    We color code everything in our house, not just school stuff – everything!!! Otherwise we keep all our school materials in a dresser in our kitchen because we work at the kitchen table. This is our dresser a couple of months ago… and frankly I was so appalled at how much stuff we had that I did a complete purge and now it has about half of the stuff shown in this post (I should definitely a write a refresher post!)

    http://www.se7en.org.za/2008/08/14/organizing-school-and-craft-stuff-in-se7en-layers

    Our books are on a shelf in our “Book Nook Room” a shelf per grade, and all color coded on the spine.

  7. 7
    FishMama says:

    I would lose my mind if things weren’t color coded. We’re moving to another, possibly smaller, house. Things are going to need to get even more organized.

  8. 8
    Cristen says:

    Oh what an interesting post! I would love to share some photos of how I organize my actual classroom at work. Would that be okay? I teaching 8th grade ELA!

  9. 9
    Natalie says:

    We have five kids currently schooling. We have an ikea bookshelves containing many cubicles. We have given each of the older kids 2 cubicles to keep their school books in and the little ones have 1 each. They have all their books for the year in the shelves even if they are not currently reading some of them. I bought ikea wooden draws, the kind that has 9 little drawers. We painted them and keep all coloured pencils, erasers, glues, scissors, stamps etc in. We are better at not loosing all 6 pairs of scissors this way. We too are constantly changing the way we organize our supplies as our schooling needs change. I am not however very good about getting rid of unnecessary books.

  10. 10

    Wow, inspiring tips! I’m just beginning homeschooling and enjoyed your article! I’ll have to try the color-coding thing!

  11. 11
    Devon says:

    Thank you for the great Ideas! I am starting my 2nd year of home schooling and my husband built me a classroom in the basement. I am always looking for ways to be more organized, for I too am an Organizing Junkie! I have found a wonderful way to organize their school work for each day. It’s called The workbox system. What you do is you buy plastic bins or shoe boxes around 12, depending on your child’s age. You number them 1-12. The night before the next school day starts, you fill each box with a different school subject: Example: #1 could be Math and you would put a post it note on the front telling your child what pages or what they have to do that day in math. #2 could be reading a book and how much you want them to read, and so on. That way your child see exactly how much work they are to do, and you don’t get are we done yet! LOL Also, your not trying to remember what you had planned for each child and your not looking for the supplies you need. They will already be in their boxes for that subject. And when they are finished they can stack up the boxes on one another as they finish the box to see that their work is being done.

    If you have questions you Google Workbox System

    Again, Thank you for sharing! :)

    Devon

    • 11.1
      Chrissy says:

      Wow this is a great idea. It would be so much eaiser to start the day with everything already set out for each child. Wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing.

  12. 12

    What a great post! I am finding that the more homeschool “stuff” I accumulate, the more it is taking over. :-) I definitely need some sort of system to implement so that it doesn’t become one big mess.

  13. 13

    Devon and Natalie, we’re going to be moving soon and our “plan” is to get the IKEA cubbies and implement the workbox idea into them. We’ll see if it happens, but that’s what hubs and I have “planned.”

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