BookShark's Guide to Homeschool Organization

school supplies sit in a row on a wooden background

Head over to Pinterest and type in the word homeschooling to see what other related words come up. Would it surprise you to know that the word organization comes up alongside other more obvious heavy hitters such as curriculum and schedule? It probably doesn't surprise you if you are a homeschool mom. When we decide to educate our kids at home, there's a list of concerns we all have to work through. We may start with our perspective—secular homeschooling for example—and then move on to curriculum and scheduling our day. But eventually, we all have to grapple with how to get and stay organized.

Of course, we all have different tolerance levels for clutter, chaos, and ambiguity. Your messy may be another mom's tidy! Or your well-oiled machine may be a straight jacket to a more loosey-goosey mom. There's no right or wrong. As long as you are fulfilling your state's requirements in record keeping, there is—thankfully—no homeschool police that will arrest you for messy bookshelves, disorganized school supplies, and unruly stacks of activity sheets. But while most of us go through periods of messy homeschooling, we also prefer to have some semblance of order so that finding things is easy. Some children also perform better in a tidy and low-key environment without an abundance of visual distractions. So getting organized is a worthy pursuit!

Keeping Things Tidy

Homeschooling comes with a whole set of physical stuff to store and keep track of:

  • biographies, reference books, nonfiction, novels—books of all kinds
  • science experiment equipment and tools
  • Instructor's Guides and teacher's manuals
  • CDs, DVDs, laptops, and tablets
  • school supplies like pencils, paper, markers, scissors, glue, etc.
  • paperwork for recordkeeping
  • school work, posters, lapbooks, portfolios, journals, and crafts

Where will all of those important resources go? Do you set up a dedicated school room where all the lessons happen and all your materials are neatly organized into bins on uniform shelves or cubbies? Or do you carve out a corner in the dining room for supplies and books while you homeschool all over the house from the kitchen to the living room? Both approaches work! The key is finding what suits  your unique family space and family style.

You don't have to invest hundreds of dollars on expensive organization systems. Repurposing boxes, bins, tins, and baskets can work just as well. (Save the money for books instead!) 

An Organized Curriculum

A big factor in feeling organized is your choice of curriculum. If you buy from dozens of retailers and publishers, your approach may feel disjointed. If you stick with just one or two primary providers, your homeschool may have a more orderly tone as you know exactly where to look for your daily schedule and don't have to piece together a half dozen different timetables. Parents who buy a BookShark All Subjects Package love receiving everything in one big, organized, box. Then when they assemble their Instructor's Guides, they start to see the bliss of a well-planned homeschool schedule. They have to consult just a few pages each day to know exactly what to cover.

BookShark's Guide to Homeschool OrganizationCreating your own curriculum, although fun at times, also requires a huge investment of time and dedication to being organized. If being organized gives you fits, investing in a program that is already fully organized for you is a form of self-care! You get all that time back to use however you want instead of poring over websites and printing freebies on Sunday night.

Daily and Seasonal Maintenance

Essential to any organizational plan is getting buy in from the whole family. If mom is the only one putting things away, not only will mom get cranky and resentful, the house is liable to stay perpetually messy. Make clean up time a part of every homeschool day and every homeschool activity so that it becomes second nature to tidy up. Organizing, cleaning, and decluttering all fall under the "life skills" category of homeschooling. Yes, it's valid to spend time on these during your homeschool day. (Just think of all the time that's spent on logistics and classroom management in the public school. The life skills taught at home will actually transfer directly to real life!) 

But thanks to entropy, organizing isn't a one-and-done venture. Decluttering and purging are jobs that have to be done regularly. Why not factor them into your schedule? You will probably want to schedule a major purge each semester or at the very least annually. Put it on the calendar, and enlist your children to help. Yes, it makes the job slower, but you are teaching them valuable organizational skills. And eventually, they will be able to do the whole task themselves with minimal direction.

Oh, and remember that when you start the organizing task, the situation typically gets way worse before it gets better. You know—when you sweep everything out from under the couch or pull all those messy papers off the shelf? In that moment, you cringe at how the disaster just exploded into clear view! Tell yourself that you are on the way to organization. The mess is part of the process!

Above all, remember that just like your Instructor's Guide is a tool not a taskmaster, being organized is not an end in itself. Having a tidy homeschool is about functionality. It's about being able to find things quickly so you can maximize the resources you have and spend more time learning in a relaxed environment. 

Below is a collection of our resources related to organization. Click on the image to read the article.

Do You Really Want a Dedicated Homeschool Room?

How to Manage your Library Books

Organize Your Homeschool with a Portfolio

5 Minutes to a More Organized Homeschool (Really!)

Inspiration and Ideas to Organize Homeschool Learning Spaces

Secrets of an Organized Homeschool Mom

Upgrade Your Homeschool Portfolio by Going Digital

Reduce Homeschool Stress by Getting Organized

Decluttering Your Homeschool at the Mid-Year Mark

7 Insanely Clever Ways to Add Homeschool Storage to Small Spaces

5 Tips for Reducing the Sentimental Clutter of Homeschooling

How to Homeschool (Well) as a Disorganized Mess