August 2010 Inspire!
Organizing a Homeschool Classroom
August 2010 Inspire!
One of the most exciting aspects of beginning a journey toward homeschooling is organizing a classroom space. Whether you have a dedicated homeschooling room or your children take over the kitchen table each day, conducting your lessons in a well-organized space can play an important role in creating a successful homeschooling experience for your family.
Learning Together vs Individual Learning Spaces
When organizing your space for homeschooling, first think about your style of instruction and the needs of each of your children in regards to learning. Some parents like to have their children close by for ease of instruction. For these parents, giving everyone a seat around a large table may create the best instructional environment. If you have children who are easily distracted or require more personal space, you may want to consider using individual student desks. If your family schools around the dining room table and desks are not an option, try placing physical barriers between the students, such as a basket of supplies or stack of books in the center of the table. Sometimes the illusion of separation is enough to create a learning environment that works well for a student who requires an individual space.
Maximizing Your Storage Space
Most homeschooling families acquire many books and an abundance of supplies and materials. The first challenge these families face is a need for storage. If your family has a room exclusively dedicated to homeschooling, bookshelves are an easy storage solution. You may have to try several organizational strategies for your bookshelves. Some ideas include organizing textbooks and workbooks by subject area or by grade level, dedicating one bookshelf for instructional texts, one for literature books, and another for supplies and materials.
If you homeschool at the kitchen table or in the dining room, you may not want to use open shelving. One Calvert family has a solution to this dilemma. In Texas, Edith uses the bottom half of a wooden china hutch to store their children’s homeschool materials. This enables them to tuck away books and papers on the shelves and basic school supplies in the drawers, housed in an attractive piece of furniture. You may also want to consider storing your books and supplies in plastic, three-drawer containers on wheels that can be wheeled away into a closet when school is done for the day.
Expanding Your Classroom
Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the rest of your home to expand your homeschool classroom. Melissa, a Calvert parent located in Georgia, expanded their homeschool classroom to take over the garage. Out there, a space has been set up for art projects and science experiments. This enables the family to minimize mess inside the house that is often created by these projects. This is a great option for families who want to work on projects and experiments over the course of several days without worrying about cleaning up each evening.
Keep Everything Organized
School supplies can quickly grow out of control. An easy way to organize pencils, markers, and paper is to place such items in clear plastic bins on a shelf or in a closet. The benefit of clear plastic is that children do not need to open a container to know what is inside. They can simply grab the bins that are needed with the materials for whatever project they are working on at the time. Many families find great success by implementing a system of color-coding. Each student should be assigned a color so that all the supplies for that child are put in the corresponding colored basket. Books can be marked with ribbon or permanent marker in the appropriate color.Keeping track of assignments can be a challenge for a busy homeschooling family. Some families find it easiest to have students submit completed assignments in stacking trays where they stay until a parent has the opportunity to review the work. Other families put aside a crate for each student to keep track of completed work. Crates that accommodate hanging files seem to work best, as individual files can be dedicated to each subject a student is studying.
Displaying Student Work
It is helpful to have access to items such as white boards and bulletin boards to enhance learning and display student work. You may not want to have such large scale pieces on display in your home full-time. Many easels come equipped with a white board, and can be folded and stored at the end of the day. Similarly, you can purchase small, individual white boards for each student and store them with your books and materials. Instead of hanging a bulletin board to display student work, think about purchasing simple picture frames to hang on the wall. Use these to display your students’ work and art projects, rotating the work samples on a regular basis. To inspire your children to do their best, allow them to choose which piece of work will be displayed each week.
Setting up a homeschool classroom is exciting and challenging. Think about what motivates you and your children to do your best and enjoy the opportunity to exercise your creativity.