Organizing, Decorating, & Planning, Oh My!

We are gearing up for year 2 of homeschooling! With all the craziness keeping kid-friendly places closed plus the heat and humidity of the southeast, we decided to get a head start on school this year. It’s a little different this time than it was last year – we have a new little one in tow and Bay is officially in Kindergarten! This presents some new organization challenges, but I think I finally got it pretty well sorted out. Let me show you around our school area!

A couple of years ago I moved Bay so that he is sharing a room with Punky and made his old room into a playroom/classroom. I kept as many toys as possible in the playroom and put only quiet toys and story books in the bedroom. My intention was for the bedroom to be a place of respite for them and to keep the toy-disasters corralled in the playroom. Unfortunately this didn’t quite work out the way I planned. We ended up with toy disasters in both rooms anyway, so there were messes at bedtime and school time, and lunch time, and…. ALL the time!! This mama could NOT handle that anymore! My solution – get rid of the play room. I reclaimed the space as my office and their school room by rearranging things in their room to accommodate all of the toys. It’s a little cramped in their room now, but having less floor space has really helped them remember to clean up one mess before making a new one. I think it’s going to work out better this way. It also gives me a place to work in the evenings (I teach online) and a designated space for doing school work and storing all things school/craft.

Math manipulatives, teacher manuals, curriculum books, extra practice books

With Bay starting his first “official” year of school and Punky moving into 1st grade, I now have 2 sets of curriculum supplies to make room for and organize, so it took some finagling to get it all sorted out. We have one shelf that is all of the math manipulatives. Since these are useful for both kids right now, it made sense to store them all together. I also like the idea of keeping things that are alike together in general, as it makes it easier to find down the road. The next shelf is where I keep teacher’s manuals and other curriculum related books that I will need throughout the year. This includes designated read-aloud books and practice workbooks. Other books for extra practice or on-the-go learning are kept in a cabinet, out of sight and out of mind for the kiddos, sorted by grade level in Dollar Tree magazine holders.

Learning books, work boxes, baby books, library basket

As I mentioned before, all the story books are kept in the kids’ room, but I prefer to keep “learning books” in the school room. So books about weather, space, and other science topics, history, spanish, and poetry, as well as the dictionary and kid’s Bibles are kept on a small bookshelf where the kiddos can get to them. I also decided to made little work boxes for each kid to keep their materials for the week. A couple of letter trays from my favorite store suffice to put their current workbooks as well as a folder for each day’s worksheets in their work box so we have our materials handy. I hope I can get in the routine of updating this each Sunday evening as I’m lesson planning and either purging or storing completed materials as I go. The bottom shelf is all our baby books so Little Bit can hang out with us when she’s awake during school time. Our preferred way of learning about the world is by touching or reading. So when we can’t explore in real-life, we use books. LOTS of books! Thank God for our library and inter-library loan system! We have a decent home library, but our public library has been a God-send when it comes to finding books on all kinds of topics. Right now we can’t go to the library to peruse all they have available, but I can reserve what we need online and pick them up. We currently have 20 books checked out on this week’s science topic! These are kept separate from our personal books in a basket near the little shelf.

Calendar time area

Even though they are using separate curriculums, I like for the kiddos to start the day together. So, like most schools, we start with calendar time. Here we go over the days of the week (click here for a FREE printable days of the week wheel!), months, date, season (click here for a FREE printable seasons chart), and number of the day. The clips seen in the picture are to hold cards that display their verses to memorize. I’ve also stashed a snap-lid box (via Dollar Tree) for markers to mark on the calendar and the 100 chart.

Lessons happen here 🙂 Supply storage cart in background

Our actual lessons happen at the table right now. Sitting upright in a chair with good posture improves handwriting, which is a major goal for both kiddos this year. Messy crafts, science labs, read-alouds and many other activities happen in different areas of the house to keep things spiced up a bit, but for now the the majority of our core lessons are done at the school table. I have a small rolling cart with 5 drawers to house our school supplies like pencils, scissors, glue, scrap paper, etc. Mom’s school tools are in a spinning kitchen tool organizer (re-purposed from my time as a specialty kitchen item consultant) on top of the rolling cart.

Mom’s Hot Mess

Last, and probably least, is my “mom mess” area. This is where I keep my planner, MY pencils and pens, clips, sticky notes, and other work materials. It is a hard rule that there is NO reason for a kid to be at mom’s desk for ANYTHING, for their safety and my sanity! Above it you’ll see a few learning inspired decorations like an alphabet chart and some science posters I picked up from – you guessed it – Dollar Tree.

So there you have it – our learning space – all ready to go for the 2020-2021 school year. Hopefully you found a few useful organization tricks you can use in your space. I know we are very blessed to have a designated space for school time, but many of these tricks can be tweaked for use in a multi-purpose space. Do you have organization tricks that are time or space savers? I’d love to hear some of them – share in the comments below!

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