One of the biggest challenges facing homeschooling parents is finding the space for studying and for storing books and other materials. Even those with large homes find themselves battling clutter and chaos if they are not organized. Building homeschooling into your home and its decor can help you use your time efficiently and keep your home comfortable and welcoming as well.
The Homeschooling Room
If you are lucky enough to have a room to devote solely to homeschooling, make the most of it. Many families convert a little-used dining room into a schoolroom. Bookshelves with enough space for storage bins to hold art supplies, individual student’s work as well as your actual books are a must.
Keep one shelf open for library books so they are easy to find. Organize your books in a way that makes sense to you and your children. Keep reference books together in a spot where your kids can reach them. Place books to be used at a later date higher on the shelves. If you have small children, keep their books on the lowest shelf for easy reach. Add a couple of bean bags for reading, a work table for the kids and a desk or smaller table for yourself and you are ready for school!
Kitchen Table School
If you do not have a room that you can dedicate to school, you will have to be creative in finding storage. If possible, add bookshelves to your living room or put one bookshelf in each of your children’s rooms. Art supplies, pencils/pens, paper and the like can be stored in a rolling cart with drawers that you can keep in a closet when not in use. Use timelines and the kid’s artwork to decorate a hallway. Find an attractive world map, frame it and make it part of your kitchen.
Living the rule: “A place for everything and everything in its place” will make your job of homeschooling easier and your home more functional. Take 10-15 minutes each day and have the kids help you put everything where it belongs and you’ll find that homeschooling does not have to dominate your house.
Workboxes are not a part of a homeschool curriculum but rather an organizational tool originally developed by Sue Patrick. Designed to help autistic children, children with ADD/ADHD and families with many children, the workbox system works for anyone and helps children maximize their learning by helping them focus and understand their work while teaching them to become independent learners.
The first component is you truly understanding the curriculum and work you are assigning your child. Often the key is to present the child with smaller chunks of work.
As a parent, you create a daily lesson plan for each child. There are a variety of ways to record the plan. Some people use an index card system, others prefer creating a spreadsheet that can be easily updated.
The plan is divided by subject and assignments are placed into boxes or drawers – one for each subject. The boxes/drawers are numbered or color-coded so your child can see at a glance how much work he has for the day and the order in which to do the work.
In addition to books or worksheets, you also place any other material your child will need to complete each lesson. This eliminates the distraction of wandering around the house looking for scissors or tape.
The second component of the workbox system is the physical set up. There is no one way to set up your workbox system. What you choose will depend on your budget, the amount of space you have and number of children you have. One option is to use a rolling cart with multiple drawers like those used by artists and scrapbookers to store paper. Others use plastic bins or boxes on an existing shelf in their home.
Workboxes are a great way to keep your students focused and excited about learning. As an added benefit, you stay current with their work and develop excellent record keeping skills. And your child’s homeschooling experience is definitely at its best.