I love organizing. LOVE it. Not a whole lot in life makes me quite as happy as a clean, organized space.
Homeschooling two boys ages 10 and 6 in an apartment presents spatial challenges on top of the regular old run-of-the-mill home education struggles.
Trial and error have helped me find a solution that works for us. Even in a small space, homeschooling is possible. Organization is key.
My main focus is functionality. Secondary to functionality is design.
Where you study
For the first year and a half after we moved overseas, I tried to homeschool our boys at the dining room table. For our family, it was not the right solution. So many nights I ended up shoving all the school stuff to one end and we ate dinner at the other.
I had a giant whiteboard mounted to our dining room wall. There were puzzles left on the floor. My office supplies were down the hall.
When we moved into an apartment with three bedrooms, I chose to use our third bedroom as a schoolroom. Thankfully, our boys happily share a bedroom. This gives us the freedom to use the space as it works best for us.
Our homeschool room isn’t grand by any means. It’s a small L-shaped room with paper-thin walls and a cold cement floor.
I dragged a good-sized couch into the room and I love having it in there! It’s a comfy spot to snuggle up and read, great seating for the boys while they listen to instruction, and a soft place I can shut my eyes real quick while they are working at their desks (it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’m SO happy!).
I purchased a bookshelf from IKEA to organize our books and supplies. Bookshelves with doors are my preferred style because I can close in some of the mess, making it look neater.
Having boys that are getting bigger and can be responsible for retrieving and putting back their school books, I’ve positioned their books on the shelf about eye-level for them. It’s working great and they are responsible for returning the books to the shelf properly. This way, it keeps the shelf looking organized, and it’s the only shelf they are required to keep neat.
Storing activity books and craftier items on the lower shelves works well for the boys. They can sit in front of the bookshelf and occupy themselves by drawing or creating or whatever they find interesting at that moment. Those shelves are the ones that don’t usually stay too neat, but once the doors close, no one can tell!
Office supplies and other ‘mom’ items can occupy the upper shelves. I’ve purchased various colored boxes to hold smaller items that tend to look messy. It creates a pretty look while completely functional.
The boys have a long desk with two workspaces – also from IKEA. I don’t keep too much on it. A metal container for pencils and such on the surface, but in the drawer, I allow them to keep things that are important to them at the time. Drawings, magazines, things they’ve created. Once in a while we go through and clean them out.
I purchased the smaller version of their desk for myself. Having a desk allows me a small space for planning, marking and extra desk space should they need some separation. My desk contains miscellaneous office supplies, answer sheets and markers for the whiteboard – items I use on an almost daily basis.
On one wall, you’ll find maps and other helpful charts and hints for the kids. I’ve decorated another wall with some wooden artwork and a small chalkboard to put our new memory verses on.
To personalize my desk space, I hung a few photos of great memories above it. I’ve added pretty candles and small accessories to amp up the femininity and elegance in a boy-centric room.
We also hang a calendar to show the boys what is happening in their world – sports lessons, music lessons, and an indication of days we intend to homeschool. We include special activities or trips on their calendar. Knowing what is expected of them takes care of a significant amount of whining and complaining.
Organizing your time
Not only have I found it useful to organize our homeschool space, but organizing the boys’ schedule ahead of time helps our day run much smoother.
The curriculum I purchase comes with a handy instructor’s guide. They have completed the arduous task of breaking down a year’s worth of work into a 36-week schedule. I don’t always follow their schedule religiously, but it helps me keep an eye on things.
If I spend 10 minutes at night making a checklist for each kid, the following morning runs much smoother. On top of knowing what is expected of them, having a checklist gives them some control of which subjects they complete and when. This gives them the ability to keep the end in sight, which provides them decent motivation to keep working.
Organizing your homeschool space doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Don’t be afraid to change something that isn’t working for you!
Take it one step at a time to figure out how to turn your homeschool area into a space you love!