Simple Homeschool Organization, When You Don’t Have a Dedicated Room (And a Math-U-See Review)
As I peruse blogs, pins, and social media posts of magazine-ready homeschool rooms, it is easy to for those of us who don’t have one to feel a bit under-resourced.
However, I believe that we don’t need a dedicated homeschool room to run our homeschools effectively! In fact, I find I actually like not having one!
Benefits of NOT having a dedicated homeschool room
- No clutter. Because we homeschool in our dining room with access to only one small storage cabinet, we keep nothing more than the essentials at arms reach. This means staying organized with which materials we are presently using and tucking the rest away out of site and mind in tubs.
- No mess. We must completely clean up school for lunch and completely clean up lunch for school. We must completely clean up school for dinner, et cetera. This might sound like extra work, but in reality, it is wonderful! We stay on top of our mess little by little throughout the day.
- Pleasant space. In my case, our dining room has big windows, a pretty light fixture, fun floral-upholstered chairs and decorations. It is a pleasant room to be in– more so than any other room in the house. A perfect place to spend the day.
- Multi-functional. Large tables are comfortable for everyone to work at. Being at the dining room table allows for easy transitions to snack time and art time.
- Efficient use of space. As you know, the more rooms there are in your home, the more you have to pick up, organize, clean, and even heat and cool. When a single room can be used for multiple purposes, it is a more efficient use of space and good stewardship of resources.
- Multi-task friendly. If my kids are engrossed in a Math game or doing an independent activity, I can easily unload the dishwasher while they are working. I enjoy being able to work a little bit if needed while still be present with them.
My simplistic method for homeschooling without a dedicated room involves a bit of daily preparation and four “levels” of organization.
Recommended Levels of Homeschool Organization (without a Homeschool Room)
Organization Level 1: The immediate workspace
Each night before I go to bed, I set up our homeschool table (the kids will typically eat breakfast at our bar).
I place a cup with pencils and erasers in the middle of the table. It also contains dice and game pieces the kids will need during math.
At each spot, I place a handwritten list of their activities for the day. This gives them (and me) a clear idea of what we hope to accomplish. Below that they will find their morning warmup.
At my spot I place a folder. This contains additional worksheets and notes about our day.
(Bonus tip: I find my children do better if I detach the worksheet I want them to complete from its workbook. This makes it feel more attainable and less overwhelming for them it seems.)
I wanted to post rules, a memory verse, and a daily schedule, so I taped them up to a colorful canvas print already hanging in our dining area!
Organization Level 2: Supplies we will need that day
In addition to what is on the table, I also lay out everything else we will need the next day on the end of our kitchen island during my nightly prep.
Having these materials nearby but not in our immediate workspace helps my children stay more focused on the task at hand. This also helps our school day flow since I never need to riffle through materials to find what we need. It is within easy reach.
I also like to sort out the materials we are finished with throughout the day and put them away. This dwindling pile helps me visualize how much territory we still have left to cover.
Organization Level 3: Materials that are relevant to my children’s current needs
These are things I may pull from on any given day. They are the materials I want to maintain easy access to.
Across our living room we have a hutch. The top shelves are mostly decorative, although I do have some homeschooling-related books on display.
(Bonus tip: this was originally two ends of an old school entertainment center. My husband and I bought these for $300 and bolted them together. It was a great cheap option for storage that could’ve easily cost $1500 or more… and it’s a beautiful addition to our living room.)
The bottom section of this hutch is devoted to our homeschool. You can see it’s not stuffed full. It only contains the things we are currently using.
- Top left: learning activities and games.
- Bottom left: curriculum and books
- Entire right side is devoted to classroom supplies (pencils, markers, crayons) and a big crate of craft paper and supplies.
All the things we use each day are stored away in these cabinets when our homeschool day is through. They house everything we need for our working school!
Organization level 4: Stuff we don’t need easy access to, but that we will use occasionally or later on
In order to keep our homeschool environment minimal, I put away the things we are not actively using. These are in tubs in the bottom of a closet.
Tubs like these could be stored almost anywhere in a home. I look through them every few months to swap out activities or consider incorporating these things into what we’re learning. When I’m ready, I will place them in the hutch cabinet and they will be on active duty!
Do you have a homeschool room? Tell us why you love having a dedicated homeschool room OR how you make living without one work well anyway!
Homeschool Spaces Blog Tour
Would you like some more homeschool organization inspiration? My friends and I teamed up to create a homeschool spaces blog tour!
Check out their homeschool spaces here:
Bonus! Curriculum Recommendation: Math-U-See Review
Because I have a teaching background, I feel confident teaching my children naturally in most content areas, rather than following a structured curriculum. However, Math is the one subject area I feel I needed a little more guidance. After all, it tends to build on itself, so sequence matters.
After doing some research, I settled on Math-U-See. This is a challenging Math curriculum that helps learners develop a conceptual understanding of numbers through seeing how they interact. Abstract concepts become concrete through this approach to teaching Math.
The curriculum comes with a set of math manipulatives, a workbook with perforated pages, an instructors guide, a test booklet, and an instructional DVD.
I started the Alpha set with my Kindergartener last year, and it quickly became too hard for her. She was overwhelmed by all the number writing (such as filling in 100’s charts), and the massive workbook was overwhelming.
I eventually realized she was not ready for the Alpha level at that time (which is not necessarily for Kindergarteners), and we stepped away from it. We’ve picked it back up this year, and it is going very well!
I now detach each day’s practice sheet from the workbook. My 6-year-old is now much more ready for this curriculum. It is fun to watch her understanding grow!
This approach does a wonderful job with helping children move past rote memorization of facts and algorithms and deeply understand the concepts behind the math. They must be ready for it, but when they are, it works!
We plan to continue using this curriculum in the coming years! Find out more about Math-U-See here.
*Math-U-See provided me with the instructional materials that were reviewed in this post. All opinions are my own!
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