Homeshool Organization For Your Toddlers & Tweens..... What Does It Look Like?
This is by no means an absolute. These are just suggestions that I thought might come in handy for everyone and anyone.
Organizing Your Home for Success
Vicki Bentley helps HSLDA members homeschool children in preschool through 8th grade. She and her husband homeschooled 17 children and led a support group of over 250 families. Read more >>
Summertime re-organizing means a fresh start—not only for the children, but for mom, too! Think “outside the box” (pun intended) for homeschool storage and learning centers as you organize your home for a learning lifestyle.
A Place for Everything …
It is helpful for each child to have a space for his personal school belongings. A plastic snap-shut pencil box, an inexpensive lidded plastic shoe box, or a zippered pouch can hold pencils, pens, glue sticks, erasers, and more; your children may like to decorate their own pencil boxes before the school year began, using paint markers. If the children all share these supplies, you’ll want the items to be easily accessible, such as in a compartmentalized drawer or standing in a mug or other container near where they will be used.
Do your kids waste or “lose” school supplies? Color-coding all supplies for each child made life easier in our household: child No. 1 had a blue binder, blue tape on her pencils and pens, blue scissors, a blue pencil box, etc.; child No. 2 had all purple accessories, and so on.
So where will they keep their pencil boxes, their reading material, notebooks, and plan books? A few suggestions include:
- Milk crates
- Rolling carts
- Plastic drawer units
- Filing cabinet
- Bookcase shelf
- Kitchen cupboard
- Under-bed boxes with wheels
- Lower section of china cabinet
- Dresser (not mixed in with their clothes)
- Backpacks (If space is at a premium, these can hang on bed posts!)
It Doesn’t Have to “Look” Like School
If you don’t have a dedicated school room, you can retrofit everyday furniture to accommodate school needs and still look like a “regular” room. Instead of school desks, you might incorporate a slipcovered (translation: spillproof!) sofa, lap desks, and a large coffee table with a shelf or cubbies below for games or work in progress. A rolling microwave cart or file drawer cart can hold daily supplies and be wheeled from a closet to the work area, then back out of sight in the afternoon. An end table with drawers can hold educational games, manipulatives, and thinking skills activities. Vintage linens on a tension rod can serve as a decorative curtain to conceal science center supplies on a bookshelf in the living room. Or skip the curtain and simply stash the supplies in decorative baskets.
Learning Centers Promote Independent Exploration
Grouping resources and supplies into learning stations or learning centers can make educational activities more attractive to a student. These can be year-round assortments, or temporary collections to reflect (or inspire!) changing interests. Learning centers can simply be baskets on shelves in various locations or drawers in a corner—anything that can entice a child to pick up an activity and explore on his own, so learning simply becomes part of his lifestyle. Here are a few ideas:
- Good lighting
- Cozy (sofa, chair, tent, nook)
- Books—easy to select/put away
- Bookcase, basket, dishpan to store books
- Magazines for children
- Books on tape or CD
- Reading games or flashcards
- Desk or table with good lighting
- Paper/notebooks (including some “pretty” paper)
- Note cards
- Story starters (in a jar)
- Thesaurus and dictionary
- Colored pencils, pens, calligraphy markers
- Stamps, addresses, envelopes
- Computer with printer
- Desktop publishing software
Art center—You may want to keep parts of this one up higher!
- Colored pencils and drawing pencils (good quality)
- Paints, papers, canvas
- How-to-draw books or DVDs
- Calligraphy supplies
- Color books, tracing paper, construction paper, markers, white board
- Blank note cards or folded cardstock
- Craft books (Laurie Carlson, Williamson Press)—many historical crafts
- Art postcards/posters
- Magazines, glue, leftover photos
- Stickers and scrapbooking supplies
- Other craft supplies (on a rotation basis, to conserve space)
- Smocks and vinyl tablecloths
- Frames, mats, clothespins, magnets (to display artwork)
- Field guides
- Magnifying glass
- Bug jar/net
- Nature notebooks
- Experiment books, access to supplies
- Coloring books, such as Dover
- Games (anything with money or points)
- Blocks, rods, other manipulatives
- Brain teaser books
- Graph paper
- Measuring cups, rulers, scale
- Measuring medium; for example, a bucket of dried corn can be cleaned up easily
- Legos or blocks
- Classical music
- Family math or puzzle books
Drama, home living, and others
- Dress-up box with shoes, hats, baby dolls, jewelry, disguises, etc.
- Junior kitchen with cookbooks, cooking storybooks
- Puppet theater (tension rod with sheet tossed across; dollar-store puppets)
- Building center—Legos, blocks, Lincoln logs, CAD, cars and trucks
- Sewing center—handcrafts
- Music center—instruments, CDs, rhythm band, sheet music/hymnal, tape recorder
Encourage independent study
Have educational “while you wait for Mom” materials on hand for those times that a student needs to wait a few moments for help. Consider using the computer for drills, research, and educational software. Make it easy for him to correct his own work in skills areas such as math. You might give him his own planner with his assignments listed so he can move forward at his own pace, or try Sue Patrick’s workbox system. Categorize materials into “learning stations” to make self-study more user-friendly. Have a specific in-box and out-box: spaces for work to be checked and work that mom has already evaluated. Most of all, remember that they do what you inspect, not necessarily what you expect, so do stay nearby and available.
For more ideas, visit the Organization section of the Toddlers to Tweens website!Blessings,
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens consultant
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What Do You Look Like when You Get out of Bed?