3 Homeschool (or Homework) Organizers

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3 School Organizers | Life as MOM

This is it! School starts today! I’m sure that I’m not ready, but when have I ever been?

Except for maybe that first day when I got to take my Mork and Mindy lunchbox to school.

To be honest, I had kind of forgotten about school over the long weekend since I was busily recipe testing. Thanks to reader Wendy who is my prayer cover in all things school and cookbook related. She wrote to tell me she was praying for me — and then I remembered that school starts. Yikes!

Time to get the school room ready. No better time than last minute, right? On Monday morning, I dusted, sorted, and set the boys to helping me set the room to rights in anticipation of tomorrow.

School Organization

At our house school means a return to routine, a damper on video game time, and an increase in library fines checkouts. A few weeks ago I shared my homeschool binder which is my first step toward feeling like I’m sort of ready. This year all six FishKids are “in school” by which I mean I don’t have a toddler underfoot anymore; everyone’s got their own studies to do.

Since neither FishPapa and I were homeschooled, we’ve had to feel our way through this lifestyle that, at the start, was so new to us. Over time, we’ve figured out systems that have helped us bring order out of chaos. There’s still chaos, but there’s a little bit of order, too.

These are the organizational strategies that have served us well over the years.ย While we use them in our homeschool, as a former public school teacher, I’m pretty confident that they’ll serve you well if your kids go off to school every day and have got homework in the evenings.

homeschool clipboard

1. The clipboards

As I mentioned previously, each of the kids has a color coded assignment sheet. Each week I fill out the assignment sheet for the week and attach it to a clipboard. Each child has his own.

Not only does the clipboard hold the assignment sheet but it also holds other papers that my student might need to complete during the day or week. The older they are, the more work I can hand over at one time. Littles might receive stuff on a daily basis, while my 11th grader gets it all at once.

The kids are responsible for their clipboards as a means of tracking their assignments as well as communicating to me what’s been completed.

A clipboard system will work for families who are tracking homework assignments as well as for those doing all your school at home.

Homeschool cubbies

2. The cubbies

No matter where we’ve lived, we’ve tried to have a designated area for school supplies, even if it’s just a place to put stuff away at the end of the day in a cupboard in the dining room. For the last 10 years or so, we’ve had some kind of box, bin, or cubby system. These are special areas where each child stores his assignments and the books that are his to use at that time. (Books that everyone might need to reference are stored on a community shelf.)

The cubbies serve as my kids’ lockers, if you will. A few years ago we bought the Hemnes sofa table and matching baskets from Ikea. It was definitely a step-up from the cheapo melamine things we’d used in the past. Unfortunately, the sofa table doesn’t have as many sections as I have children. My eldest has a designated space on a bookshelf, while my youngest has a purple egg crate to store her books in. The middle kids get the cubbies in the sofa table.

Whether you school in or out, having a designated space for school books is ideal — and really helps keep the messes down.

library shelf

3. The library shelf

We use the library a lot. There’s no way I could keep my kids in books otherwise.

We also pay a fair amount of money in library fines each year. It is getting better, though, in part because we have designated library shelves in our school room. This is where the library books are supposed to be stored. That doesn’t always happen, of course, but it works most of the time.

By placing the books in one spot we’re more likely to find said books in time to return them to the library.

These three things help us maintain a little bit of clarity and organization in our busy home. None of them work absolutely perfect. I sometimes forget to fill out the assignment sheets by Monday morning; someone’s cubby is often a total trash heap; and we still have library fines!

BUT, it’d be a lot more crazy around here if we didn’t have these systems in place.

Do you have a favorite manner of organizing school stuff?

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  1. I’ve got a similar basket system with their text books in them. My manuals are on a shelf. Older two now have “assignment books” after having charts the last few years and folders with any papers to be done. Younger two have checklists and folders. My school room is being turned into a room for my mom to move into…so unused textbooks are now in the attic. The other reference books are divided by age and are on different shelves. It’s going to be an interesting year adding a grandparent to our daily routines!

  2. just as an fyi…write the NUMBER of books that ARE supposed to be on the shelf….as I always forget…lol

    cubbies are awesome and so are the clipboards..totally stealing the clipboard, my kids are in public school, but they have things to attend to before and after school

  3. LOOOOOVE the cubbies. Nice piece of furniture. I have two smaller plastic crates, one for each boy in different colors and then a larger on for me (teachers manuals, etc.) I detest the crates but it works for now and was cheap. Maybe I can find some sturdy rectangular baskets to replace them since my desk is in the living room. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The 10th grader has a shelf in his room and the 7th grader, one in the LR. Between those two spots it’s fairly contained. I put everything in Homeschool Tracker Plus (since I cannot read my own handwriting) and print out a 2 week “to-do” list. I give 2 weeks so if I slot something that doesn’t take as long as I think it will, they can work ahead. Especially the 10th grader—helps knowing when essays/research papers are coming up and budgeting his time. This is the first year for a two-week list for the 7th grader. So far so good as long as I remember to print out the lists. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Oh, I love these ideas! I am definitely stealing the clipboard one as it will help my DS13 keep himself more organized (just started high school and there’s lots going on!) I’d love to adapt the cubby baskets too~ I think it would be easy to fill them w/ fun learning activities that my kiddos could choose outside of school hours. (We’re at an independent school during the day…)

    I have to ask what you keep in the scrapbook cases?? I had never thought of using them for anything other than scrapbook projects and they intrigue me! T

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Ha! I didn’t know they were scrapbook cases. This year they hold extra pens, paper, and other other school supplies. I’m using one to hold the phonogram flash cards and phonics book.

  5. Oh, wow! Love this!

    I just heart you for having library fines. (Bane. of. my. life. But we, too, have a dedicated shelf now, so, here’s hoping!?)

    We have the Expedit block shelves from IKEA, and the kids each have an IKEA cardboard magazine box (so cheap, and I’ve got stacks as backups) for notebooks, workbooks, and thinner textbooks. We just did a big cross-country move back to CA and our shelves don’t look exactly the same as they did at the old place, but Expedit is so very versatile (we have 5 total! one for me, a couple for the kids, and some for books/knick-knacks), and I’m always on the hunt for the drawers and boxes that fit in them in the As-Is section at IKEA when I go. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Oh, and we’ve been using your OLAM assignment sheets for three years running – color-coded, of course! I type and print them out each Sunday night. We laminated your “Things For Me to Do Today” sheet in the kids’ colors, and they fill it out every day with wet erase markers (another “you” tip) and carry it about the house (car?) with their schoolwork, because otherwise my precious Lesson Plans wouldn’t make it through the week…!

  6. I like the baskets in the photo for organization. Those kinds of holding containers attract my attention for my own home because they blend with decor rather than looking out of place and “office-y.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi Jessica,
    I was searching online to find a way to set up homeschool space that would be efficient for my kids. Looks like your cubby system and binders look great. May I ask, what do you put inside your children’s binders ( and if you had one for a kindergartner, and what it looked like), and also what inside the cubby bins? Thank you!

    1. All the individual books for a specific kid go in his cubby including special crayons, etc. Math manipulatives were too numerous to put there, so they’ve always been stored separately. The idea has been that the kid could grab his basket and have pretty much everything he needed to do his day’s work.

      Kindergarten binders would include tabs for each “subject” and we would store finished work there (copy work, drawings, narration pages, etc) as a type of portfolio of the year.