It's so hard when you feel overwhelmed by homeschool supplies, books, curriculum, isn't it? Finding what you're looking for in the mess can easily derail your homeschool day.
I'd love to help you get – and STAY – organized! In our 6 years (so far!) of homeschooling, I've settled on a simple system to organize your homeschool.
We don't have a dedicated homeschool room in our house, and honestly, for most people (unless you have a large family) homeschool rooms don't usually work out. My daughter, and kids from other homeschool families we know, prefer to be together & do homeschool work in the regular living areas… dining room, living room.
So how do you keep all the homeschool gear organized, tidy and accessible? Read on.
I'll share how we've made it work in our home, and some inexpensive products that I've discovered to make things easier! And I'll share lots of other tips for homeschool organization in small spaces.
How does it all multiply so fast?
It happens to all of us!
We want to provide engaging curriculum, lots of books, workbooks, fun games, manipulatives and kinesthetic learning materials. Friends and family learn we are homeschooling and we are gifted supplies and books. We read other homeschoolers' supply lists and find things that just look amazing.
Add in multiple kids, and as the days, months, and school years pass by we accumulate more and more. And it's so hard to let go of books and learning materials – at least it is for me. I mean, we *might* use them someday.
As you embark on getting your homeschool organized, I urge you to get brutal with supplies and curricula you've never used. Pass them on to other homeschoolers. Your sanity is worth it!
A Simple, Flexible System to Organize Your Homschool
We are in the midst of the middle school years of homeschooling, and I finally have things organized in a simple and usable way.
Here are the building blocks of my system:
- Shelving space for dedicated homeschool storage.
- A really good, reliable printer/scanner.
- Portable storage totes to divide and organize curriculum and supplies. You can use one tote per child or use a tote per subject.
- Zipper pouches for finished work, sets of supplies (art supplies, math manipulatives, etc.) or to-be-used loose-leaf curriculum sheets
- One spiral notebook per child to write the daily list of to-dos
- My printable learning tracker to track what was done each day, along with everyday learning moments, conversations, documentaries, field trips, etc.
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Organize Your Homeschool: Foldable Bookshelves
First, you do need some shelf space to make this system work. I'm not a fan of bins that are stacked on the floor, because I hate having to move things to access other things. I prefer shelving, so that I can grab what I need, but everything still has a home.
We were lucky enough to get some built-in shelving added to our home last year and that's where the bulk of our daily homeschool supplies live. However, with a budding artist, crafter, graphic novel addict and board game lover, I very quickly filled up those shelves and still needed space.
Foldable bookshelves to the rescue! They are study enough for books and binders, light enough to move easily, and the shelves are attached so when they fold up it's all one piece. They are brilliant and perfect for homeschool supplies!
Organize Your Homeschool: A Really Good Printer
Truth: as a homeschooling mom, you're going to be printing. A lot.
It's kind of a racket how much printer companies charge for ink cartridges that only last a few hundred pages. Plus, you know, throwing away all that plastic. So one of the best things you can invest in as you start homeschooling is a good printer.
I'm a big fan of two kinds of printers: tank style ink jets (where you can refill with liquid ink) and color laser printers (which are more costly but print even more pages per toner cartridge). For most, a color laser is a big leap price wise, so I'm going to recommend my fave tank style ink jet printer here.
I firmly believe you need to have a flatbed scanner with your printer. It comes in SO handy for scanning kid artwork, scanning in receipts, tax docs or other things that need to be emailed (like pet vaccinations for boarding, etc.). I also like this particular model because it's got a double size black ink tank.
Organize Your Homeschool: Filing Tote Bags
OK. Here's where we start getting super organized. Ready?
Filing totes are step #1 once you have some shelf space ready. You have a couple of options here. You can use 1-2 totes per kid, a tote per subject, or combine both ideas.
We have a tote with all the main books/supplies we use daily. For us, currently, we have a typing curriculum, some math practice puzzle books, and we're working on some art projects with colored pencils. I also a tote with art supplies that we use regularly.
If you do morning time in your homeschool, you could have a morning time tote. Or a poetry tea time tote. Get creative and think about what would make things easiest for YOU.
These totes are awesome and they come in a HUGE variety of patterns. There's also a couple of sizes, make sure you get the bigger one. It's important to fit in the next step in the organization system.
Organize Your Homeschool: Indestructible Zipper Pouches
I'm not even kidding when I tell you that these zipper pouches have changed my life. I use them for all. the. things.
But first and foremost, they help with all the paper clutter that comes from homeschooling. They are 13″ x 10″ and can fit quite a thick stack of papers, and they are darn near indestructible.
Here's how I use these magical zipper pouches:
- All finished work goes in one. You could separate by subject or by child.
- One is dedicated to things I want to save (artwork, a breakthrough moment, etc.)
- Sets of markers, colored pencils, etc. go in them.
- Loose materials for curricula go in them.
- Past issues of our favorite subscriptions (Letters from Afar, Yesteryear Gazette) get tucked away in them.
- Charging cables go in them.
- Seriously, the only limit is your imagination. Use one color per kid, one color per subject, or ignore the colors and just use them.
Seriously. Just buy them.
Ever discover something that just changes your life in the best possible way? Yep. I organize everything with these… kid art, charging cables, filing…
Organize Your Homeschool: Really Good Spiral Notebooks
You're going to roll your eyes at my fancy notebooks. Hear me out.
I hate flimsy notebooks. In our homeschool, we like to go on adventures. We take notebooks and nothing is worse than struggling to write in a flimsy, bendy notebook when you're sitting in nature or at a park.
So, if you have a few spare dollars in your budget I present to you the best notebooks ever. They have sturdy cardboard on the front and the back and are 100% recycled. The lines are printed beautifully and there are neat, clean tear out pages.
My daughter likes to see a list of what she has to get done on a given day. I write her daily to-do's in a notebook, and it's also a place for her to journal, take notes on something she's watching, or doodle. This is how we keep track of where we are in a curriculum (especially handy when it's not something you do every day).
At the end of the school year, it's a great at-a-glance of what you've covered.
I also personally use these notebooks as part of my everyday life being CEO of my house. 🙂 I am never without one on my desk.
Organize Your Homeschool: Tracking Learning
One of the hardest things to keep organized and at hand is your records of what you've done. It's a lot, I know, keeping track for the end of the year assessment or portfolio.
I have found over the years that simpler is better when it comes to tracking homeschool learning. Online and tech-based solutions never were simple or sustainable for me, and I don't really want to pay for a monthly subscription to anything.
So – ta daaaa – here's my super simple learning tracker. Print a bunch and throw them in a zipper pouch, or hole punch and put them in a 3-ring binder! As your kids get older, filling these out can be part of their daily routines.
Just enter your email below and you can download it right away.
Kim's Super Simple
No other system of tracking my daughter's work has ever stuck for me. Free download!
Common Questions about Homeschool Organization
Getting your homeschool organized and functional can feel like a never-ending task.
The first step is always to go through what you have accumulated and choose what is really working for your family. Let go of the aspirational curriculum purchases, the ones that looked SO good to you but your kids gave the big thumbs down to.
Really. Let 'em go. It's so freeing. If you have a lot to get rid of (you're not alone), find out if there's a used curriculum sale nearby in the community. Chances are, something you're getting rid of is exactly what works for another family. You can also sell online in FB curriculum groups or on eBay.
When you keep just the essentials, the things that really work, then you can begin to actually organize! Most homeschool moms I know find their “tried and true” learning materials and supplement with lots of library trips and Netflix documentaries.
Here are my thoughts on some common questions about organizing your homeschool.
You CAN Get Organized!
Share your struggles with getting your homeschool organized in the comments below. I'd love to chat and find solutions together!