Homeschooling Organizational Tips


We did it, we took the plunge. We're enrolling the kids in Seton this week and diving right in. Scary.

Anyway, Wednesday I'm going to stock up on homeschool supplies and I'm trying to figure out what I need. Any tips for organizing supplies? How do you organize your child's work? Binders with dividers? Folders? What works best? How about organizing all your child's books and supplies? I eventually want to buy a big office type desk that we can use to organize everything in one spot and have a nice work area for the kids. But for now we have the dining room table and I'm trying to figure out how to store everything without causing chaos AND keeping it out of reach of my very, very curious and destructive 4 year old. :rolleyes: I'm open to any and all suggestions!!


Lots of teachers use these. You can put it face towards the wall to keep the little one out of it when not in use.


We have an eat-in kitchen with a large table that we're using to homeschool. I cleaned out the cupboard closest to it and deemed it for school use only. It has our books, notebooks, and any other must haves for homeschooling. I use mason jars to keep our art supplies organized. They are a nice size and it makes them neat and accessable to the children, I just push them back far enough on the counter that the little ones can't reach.

I bought a cart that has a dozen little drawers and organized it for craft supplies and paper, and also for activities for the little ones- one drawer has playdough and appropriate toys, one has color books, one whole drawer is just crayons, one drawer has our science equipment (magnifying glasses, etc), one drawer has math manipulatives, one has writing paper, etc, etc.

The drawers pull out so it's easy for me to grab the playdough or crayon drawer and bring it to the table, then the kids can put everything back in it at clean up time and I go put it back into the cart. On the top of the cart we keep all our nature study things in nice baskets.

I also keep a basket of the books we all read from- the bible, the catechism, the book of virtues, the lives of the saints, etc, by the couch. It makes it accessable in the morning and I can nurse the baby while I read and not have to keep jumping up to get something out of the cupboard.

The remainder of our family library is downstairs in the office, on a bookshelf, grouped by subject. That is also where I keep anything else that won't fit in my cupboard upstairs- additional resources and art supplies, paper, large maps, etc. Our printer/copier is down there, too.

It took me somet ime to get this organized, but it has been worth every minute of work. There is nothing that compares to being able to run downstairs and grab what I need in seconds. I spend 15-30 minutes every night after the children are in bed prepping for the next day.

I don't know how Seton works, but I have given my six year old a binder that is his. He has a section with writing paper for copywork, a section with graph paper for working his math problems, a section with science experiment print-offs, a section for his first holy communion prep papers, and a section in the back with his time line for his Book of Centuries. I thought this would work better than dividing his binder by subjects, and so far it has.

I have my own 'control' notebook where I keep a master of our weekly schedule, including blocks of time devoted to each subject and reoccuring appointments (like playgroup and story time), my lesson plans, sleeves to hold handouts for each child, a list of things I want to accomplish this year for each child, a section for things I need to do, and a section for things that inspire me.

Our day is broken into 'blocks'- one for each subject. Each block is only half an hour long. We do religion and language arts on the couch first thing in the morning, then an hour outdoors for nature study, fine arts (Latin, music, or art depending on the day), math, and then history before lunch. After lunch the children have a mandatory rest period (and so does mommy, who needs it desperately by then!) then a mandatory outside play time. After playtime we have a short read aloud time, either a book about the lives of the saints or something similar (right now we're reading The King of the Golden City for my son's FHC prep)

From 2-4 they have free time to finish their school work or do other projects, art work, or independent reading. If they have nothing else to do, they may spend their afternoon outdoors or playing with their toys. I am available to them during this time, but they are obligated to work on their own as much as possible. I make a point of doing whatever teaching is required of me during our half hour blocks in the morning. We always move on to whatever is next at the end of the half hour and they can complete any additional work they have in that subject during the afternoon. This frees me up for housework, time to spend with the little ones, or time to prepare for tomorrow's lessons.

This blog has helped me a lot, particularly her posts on the learning spaces (look down along the right side)


Thanks so much!

Also, any ideas on how to occupy my 4 year old? Today was our first day and it went HORRIBLE. He cannot stand for me to have my attention on the other kids. It was very, very, very stressful for all of us.

I tried to keep him busy with crayons and a preschool workbook, but he's only interested if I'm coloring WITH him.

This is not good. On one hand, I enjoyed the time I spent with the kids today, but I'm scared to death this isn't going to work out if I can't figure out what to do with Jacob. I am registering him for preschool this week, but that'll only be about 2 hrs. a few days a week.


[quote="masondoggy, post:1, topic:212524"]
Any tips for organizing supplies?


Hopefully the 4yo will eventually get the message that there is school time and play time, and the siblings are off limits when the books come out.

But I want to add a piece of advice you may not get from the tons coming your way: Above all, keep in mind that the best organizational plan is the one that you will develop for yourself as you go. Sure it's helpful to have a pre-made plan in place at the outset, but the first year is always 50% chaos. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not a program!

Improvise along the way. I trust you already know what sorts of records you need to maintain, and a system that works for you will just evolve on its own. Binders? Folders? Filing cabinets? You will know what you need - or what would be useful to you - only after you start.

Same with organizing supplies. A basket full of mixed pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils, crayons, paintbrushes and watercolors, sharpeners, erasers, a couple of plastic rulers, a calculator - and a totally useless half of a pair of safety scissors! - is a simple solution I see in many of my clients' workspaces.

I do want to add: you *will *need bookcases, not only to store books, but also for convenient shelf space to store work and other "stuff". Get something small and cheap from a resale shop - or from the alley on bulk-pickup day! - for your first year, maybe something 5 feet tall and maybe 3 feet wide.


[quote="masondoggy, post:4, topic:212524"]
He cannot stand for me to have my attention on the other kids.


Ah, so the center of his universe is shifting! I know what that's like. Try setting aside a hoard of schooltime-ONLY toys and supplies, to be used ONLY during schooltime. He can have "assignments" too that he can "hand in".

I'm scared to death this isn't going to work out if I can't figure out what to do with Jacob.

I understand. He's going to fight tooth and nail to make sure his world doesn't fall apart. You'll figure out a way to help him make the transition. Don't lose your head. Lay down reasonable expectations and insist through your own behavior towards him that working alone for short periods is not the same as being abandoned on a hillside. And don't forget that you are the one running the show.


I would be eager to hear your experience with will not take much more and I'm going to enroll my boys...I feel like I'm not accomplishing much this year so far ... but of course, I feel like this every year ....


They have those crates, different, blue, green, etc ... sized for school lockers and/or filing sizes ... each of my kids get a color ... one crate for my stuff for them, one crate for their stuff to haul around, even corresponding colored pencil boxes, etc...(you get what I'm saying) and life has been happier!

Good luck!:thumbsup:


We do our work @ the kitchen table. Books, folders, notebooks we are using get stored in a magazine holder on the shelf in our living room. When it's school time they, magazine holder and all, get brought into the kitchen and sit in the middle of the table. The children grab the books as they needed and put the one they are done with back into the magazine holder. When we are done with school it goes back on the shelf.

For paint, construction paper, extra folders, etc. I have them stored in various places. Some of it is in the cabinet here in the kitchen, the rest of it is on a shelf in the living room. We have a 900 sq house so I don't have much storage or a room I can just use.

If we had a 4th bedroom, we would use that as an office an store many of the extra school supplies in there, besides the paints, crayons, and other arts and crafts. Those would still be stored in a kitchen cabinet seeing we do art @ the kitchen table.


RE: the four year old.

What I have done is schedule times where he is my focus. We all get together for family prayers, then I send the six year old off to memorize his catechism while I read a morally themed story to the four and two year olds. Then I set them up with an activity- wooden blocks or something nearby- and I go check in with my six year old.

After awhile we'll all come together again and go for our nature walk.

I just rinse and repeat that idea over the course of the day. That way he's getting attention, he gets 'school' time, and he is learning that there is a time when mommy has to give other people attention, too.

There are lots of great ideas here:

I also printed off a bunch of these free montessori resources and get a few out a week for him to work on on our living room carpet.


HI Masondoggy,

People find various systems that work for them. When we used our dining room, I put a bookshelf in a nearby closet and kept all our homeschool supplies there. We now have several bookshelves for our homeschool library and materials.

I like magazine holders to keep workbooks organized. That website offers tons of organizational products.

You can store items based on which child or grade it's for, or you can organize based on subject, so that all math books are kept together. I keep all math manipulatives together in one section of our room, art supplies in another area, etc. We almost always write directly into workbooks. I used to keep loose papers neatly filed in a binder, but I found we rarely looked back over old papers. Now we usually throw the loose papers away once I've looked it over and discussed it with them. It works best for me when look over their workbooks and papers either right away that day or right before I do the next lesson. We also use small white boards with colored markers to do some of the work. (Less paper, pretty colors.)

I really like having a printer. Keep enough ink and paper on hand. This year I tried some teacher materials with "master copies" that I can copy at home instead of workbooks. I pushed my computer printer too far. It keeps jamming and failing to print, and I hate having to deal all the loose papers. I wish I had just bought more of the books to let the kids write in--that system worked better for me than this. Now that I think about it more, maybe I'll do that. It's cheaper than a new printer and less frustrating to me than all those loose papers. I'm pushing my faithful old home computer printer past its limits.

I wish I could offer you more tips on how to keep a perfectly organized home school.

Organizing isn't the challenge for me--keeping things organized is. ;)


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