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Homeschooling is a messy business.
If you’re anything like me, there are thousands of books, millions of papers, tons of crayons, markers, pencils and pencil crayons, and umpteen other tools lying around. What do you do with all the stuff? How do you organize your homeschool?
One easy thing you can do is to have a separate room for homeschool, and shove all assorted homeschool stuff in it. Then you can shut the door when you’re not using it and ignore the clutter — whether it’s organized or not.
Personally, we don’t have a separate homeschool room. Our homeschool supplies are spread throughout our home. We have bookshelves in the living room and dining room, craft supplies in the playroom, science tools in the kitchen, and historical maps, models and charts just about everywhere you look.
It’s kind of obvious that we homeschool. But that doesn’t mean it has to look disorganized… at least not all the time!
Here are a few simple things I’ve learned over the years to organize the myriad of homeschool tools and supplies in my home. Try one of these tips to organize your homeschool.
1. Contain where possible.
Containers are often a homeschool mom’s sanity saver. And it’s more than just keeping the toddler’s hands out of the paint, or trying to find an eraser when you need one.
It’s about minimizing the stuff.
When you put lots of things inside a container, all of sudden you no longer have lots of stuff in front of you. You have a container. That’s one single thing that you can make sense of easily.
It tricks your brain into thinking there’s less stuff around you.
Containers don’t have to have lids, though. A basket, a tray, a crate or a bucket can all be containers that help corral all the stuff.
2. Use neutral colors.
If you’ve ever walked into a school classroom, one of the first things that you’ll notice is the bright colors and cheery but busy walls.
The plastic containers for pencils, crayons and markers are in the primary red, blue and yellow. You’ll see bright orange bulletin boards, vibrant purple rugs or cushions, and a kaleidoscope of color everywhere.
We don’t have to replicate school classrooms in our home. And we don’t have to use school organization tools either.
We use neutral organization baskets, like these photo storage containers or these fabric file folder holders, for holding school supplies and papers.
We use dark wood shelves, dark brown furniture, coordinating cushions and rugs that not only function as family furniture but rest the eyes too.
3. Put things behind doors where possible.
You do not have to have every item you have for homeschooling on display all the time.
Even when you’re a visual organizer like I am, and you find it hard to remember what you have when you can’t see it, some things can go behind closed doors.
Try converting a linen closet into a craft supply closet. You can use an over-the-door shoe holder for things like paintbrushes, rulers, scissors, pipe cleaners, and other supplies.
Or tuck board games and card games in your entertainment center — maybe where you used to keep the VHS and DVDs. (And if you still have those… maybe consider decluttering?)
Some people might dedicate a pantry shelf or kitchen cupboard to math manipulatives, or extra paper & blank notebooks.
Putting things behind doors keeps the clutter contained while remaining easily accessible.
4. Make things do double-duty.
Whether you have a smaller space or a larger space, using pieces for more than one purpose is a way to reduce the stuff and keep it from taking over your house.
For example, lap desks, which store great under the couch, not only help with writing or coloring, but they also make great trays for popcorn on movie night.
Coffee tables with extra storage make great places to put the magazines you want to keep for future collages. Tuck finished art pieces in the photo albums with the kids’ pictures you print out (or take a pic of the art and put it online!)
Look for hidden storage you might not otherwise use. Rolls of paper can go in the corner where the bookshelves meet. Repurpose your mail sorter to hold your kids’ math books. You never know where you might find an extra nook for organization.
5. Group things by theme.
Treat homeschooling supplies the way you would any decor item. It looks nicer if things on display are related to each other.
And, if related things are near each other, that makes it easy to find and grab what you need when you need it. When you’re not searching for something, you’re less likely to make a mess in the process, keeping things neat and tidy.
So put the magnifying glass, magnets and scales with the microscope and that poster of the planets. And put those books on Ancient Rome next to the plaster model of the Colosseum your children made.
Keep like things with like, and you not only make it easy to find but easy on the eyes too.
Homeschooling is extra.
Homeschooling means extra stuff and extra time for the kids to be extra messy inside your home. But it also means extra time with the kids to connect, have fun and learn. And it means sharing the space you have with some pretty cool things.
So contain it. Use neutral colors and put it behind doors. Find the hidden nooks and make things do double duty to help you organize. And group it together. It will be more organized and easier to manage when everything has a place.