Sunday, July 31, 2016

Organizing the Homeschool Closet

I can hardly believe I just typed that post title.  Why?

(ONE)  I never organize the closets until well into August!
(TWO)  It means the summer is winding down.
(and THREE) I am the world's best procrastinator.

On the procrastinating thing:  I only procrastinate the doing.  The thinking?...that I start months ahead.  I think through the entire task; I make mental lists; I talk it over with myself; I visualize; I just don't actually DO until the very last minute or even second.

It drives everyone around me nuts with a capital N.  But, I'm still married and my kids tell me they love me everyday, so it must be working.  Right?  Right!

Back to the closets.  I am so fortunate to have two large closets dedicated to homeschool materials/art project supplies/overflow chapter books.  The closets are big - lots of room for piling, stuffing, and cramming, which is what happens during the school year.  I wish I could place all the blame on my darling students, but I'm part of the problem, too.  We have to leave in 60 seconds for violin - quick, shove the art project in the closet.  And then never get back to it.

Does that happen to you?  Please say YES.  I can't be the only procrastinating, messy homeschooling mom out there.

Since I have two closets, one is for the meat and potatoes the other is for the gravy and dessert.

In other words:  science, math, language arts, history, and religion materials in one.  The other holds art supplies, games, manipulatives, puzzles and other odds & ends.

In the meat and potatoes closet I like to group the subjects together.  In the past I grouped materials by grade level, but that didn't work because I wasted too much time searching for multi-level books.  It's much easier to locate a specific language arts text if all language arts/English materials are together.

Below are two examples:  History and Language Arts

Now for the gravy.

This closet is a little trickier to organize because it contains such a variety of materials.  Basically, I clear out all the stashed in the corner garbage, put all the pieces back in the game boxes, and place similar items together.  Not rocket science, and I try not to spend too much time agonizing over the placement or grouping of like items.  One crazy, busy day and it's bound to get out of order again.

My best tip for you is to make a list of what's in the closet.

If you're like me, all kinds of awesome ideas will pop into your head while organizing the closet and you will start making plans for how and when you'll use all these cool art books and awesome manipulatives.  Then the school year begins and reading lessons and science labs push all those fun plans right out of your brain.  But, this year that's not going to happen because you're going to make a list of what's in the closet.

In all it's organized glory, here is the gravy closet.

It's definitely not perfect.  The violin storage is always a problem.  They need to be out of sight from the little ones, yet accessible.  The stands need to be close by, yet put away to avoid being tipped over.  The music - they want it put away, yet not so put away just in case they want to play one of their old songs.  Try working with that!  On the floor in a heap is our solution.

Since the closet still looks not perfect the list is important.  It's not a detailed list of every item, just the project books and activity packs that seem to get forgotten, but would bring great value to our home education plan.

Hummingbird Paint-by-Number (the Underwater Scene was painted years ago)
Canvas Boards (these are a favorite - Sam's Winter Painting)
Magic School Bus Rainbow Kit (I plan to use this very soon)
Dilemma Games (something similar)
Alphabet Bingo
U.S. puzzle (my childhood puzzle - this one is similar)
Double Take - Butterflies & Moths
Light Up Drawing Desk (ours is a much older version, but it's been a hit with all the kids)
The Window Art Book (definitely keeps kids busy for a LONG time and your windows will be colorful)
Number Flip (fun for kids and adults)
Balloon Animals (excellent for keeping boys busy when you're working with another child)

That's a BIG list.  I'll tape it inside the closet and refer to it when we're looking to add a little fun and flair to our school day.  I'm thinking it will come in handy when I need to grab a quick activity to keep a certain someone from running off while I work with a sibling.

As we encroach upon the school year I'll be sharing more of my not rocket science, but tried and true homeschool tips.  Stay tuned.  And if you know of someone in need of a little closet organizing, why not send them my way - I'd appreciate it.  Thanks.

You all are a great bunch.