I thought I’d show you the nitty gritty of how I keep my school area organized and looking halfway like a normal space and not an explosion.
I don’t have the luxury of a separate room for school. So we, like many homeschoolers, use the dining room. What I do have though is a dining room large enough for 2 tables, so I have dubbed one of them “The School Table.”
I tell ya, you need a lot of STUFF when you homeschool. And the books aren’t those pretty books with leather covers and fancy pages. No sir. They are huge and have spiral binding and they kind of slump down on a shelf. There are papers and supplies and little clocks with movable hands, teddy bear counters, maps, notebooks, erasers, oh it is all too much!
A few years ago I crossed over to the dark side and even added a huge white board. Can you say U-G-L-Y? But we needed it and I will say that it has made a world of difference in our life. We use it not only for school, but we leave each other notes, we make lists, we write Bible verses, we play games….it really is a family favorite. Sometimes the little boys just draw pictures on it for hours.
I got the board at the office supply and we framed it with some trim from the hardware store. Then I took myself to IKEA to get a shelf to fit under it. It’s the shelf that pulls everything together.
The lower shelves keep those horrible, huge books organized and the baskets store all of the little, annoying things you have to have right at your fingertips. I did splurge on the baskets from Pottery Barn. I could have gotten cheaper ones but I needed them to be really sturdy since the kids would be using them every day. It was worth the cost since we’ve had them for several years and they still look like new.
I labeled each basket with Chalkboard Tags from my shop so we can easily change the contents in the baskets. The needs change hourly around here! I also jazzed them up with graphics from The Graphics Fairy (more on that later).
On the top of this shelf I keep a bucket of dry erase markers, the teacher books that I use every day, a microscope that the kids like to use often and some decorative things.
The tall shelf to the left holds our favorite (and most attractive) books.
If you are wondering about the candy machine, I use it for rewards. The kids get a quarter for the machine when they have done all of their work to my satisfaction. They love not only the little handful of candy, but getting to put the quarter in and turning the dial. By the way, you can’t use your own quarters for the machine. I painted a bunch of quarters white and I use those for the rewards, so if there’s an unpainted quarter in the machine at the end of the week when I pull them out of the back…I know there’s a sneak around here and we shut down the whole operation.
I can see that the machine needs to be refilled. Note to self: buy candy.
I let the girls write Bible verses on the chalkboard above the candy machine. It gives them an opportunity to be creative. We change it about once a month.
Lastly, I like to use school-related things as a centerpiece for the table. When we have guests over we use this table for eating and it still looks cute. This week I am using a variety of sand timers with a jar of pattern blocks.
I change it all of the time though. Tomorrow there may be a pile of clocks or some pencil bouquets lined up in old cans. Whatever whim strikes me I go with it.
As for the kids own books and supplies, we keep those in individual lockers in the living room. It’s dreamy. Looks cute AND keeps their things separated and organized. I wish everything were so easy.
We still have thousands of books and supplies we aren’t using right now but I need to keep….I store those away somewhere else. The only things I keep out are what we are currently using.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of our homeschool area. It works for us!
Follow up: Sadly IKEA no longer sells the shelf I used below my white board. Their HEMNES sofa table is very similar and it is a part of the same collection that my tall bookcase in the photo is from, the HEMNES bookcase.