For the first four years that I partially homeschooled, we did our work on the dining room table. Our dining room had no storage, but I tucked piles of papers, books and supplies into a corner. I loved the light and the working space at the over-sized table, but the lack of storage and the fact that it is the FIRST thing you see when you enter my house made it less than optimal.
Last year we moved homeschooling into the guest room.
It is now a homeschool room.
I love the space and over the next few weeks will share some of my favorite spots.
Today, we will start with the absolutely best part…the closet.
The years of dining room schooling taught me exactly what was on my wishlist and now it exists.
The big rolling backpacks have always been an issue. I wanted to create a space where the boys could leave them when they returned from school and grab them on the way out the door. We needed them accessible throughout our homeschooling days. I left 1/2 of the closet floor available for these three monstrosities and laid down the law that they need to stay there while we are working. There is enough space above the backpacks that the boys can easily slip things in and out of them without disturbing anything else.
My next goal was to have a spot for random things each boy drags home. You know…some stuff that needs to go back to school, some stuff that needs to stay home, and some stuff that would require serious creativity to categorize. These items need a home for a few hours, overnight and sometimes for several weeks. I needed a place to throw migrant toys, found treasures and pocket contents where I wouldn’t feel the need to dispose of them while their owner still was attached.
The solution was an Elfa Storage unit that is free-standing with 4 wire baskets. The top basket is shallow and perfect for miscellaneous school supplies like paper clips and rubber bands that freely roam the earth. Then each boy has a deep basket labeled with their name. They are free to put ANYTHING in there and encouraged to do so.
Because I converted a conventional closet space, I had floorspace in one of the corners that was tucked behind the wire baskets. It is not easily accessible without pulling out the unit. I stacked 4 plastic milk crates in that area that are filled with extra folders, spiral notebooks, computer paper, drawing pads, and 3-ring binders.
The shelves were also configured with Elfa. I did the basic closet design online with The Container Store and found that it wasn’t as expensive as I expected especially with the yearly sale they have each January. Part of the installation cost included removing the existing closet shelf and hanging bar so that it was a clean slate to dream up what would work the best.
I selected a deeper shelf for the bottom shelf that could accommodate the GIANT 3-ring binders that grow as the school year progresses holding all things done and to come along with resource books like the boys’ Bibles, Dictionary and Story of the World texts.
Above are three standard depth shelves. The lower one is the home for extra Kindergartner activities. I have found that the workload in Kindergarten is light and Rhett will be done with his work HOURS before the other boys. By finding him “enrichment” activities (hopefully things he can do on his own), it saves me from having to entertain.
The next higher shelf has a teacher area. This is where I keep the teacher keys and homeschooling resources for my reference. It is above the boys’ reach…and they know better than to pull out a chair anywhere in the vicinity of this side of the closet! There are also some smaller supplies stored in clear shoe boxes like post-it notes and the million 3×5 cards that we will use during the year.
Also stored in the clear shoe boxes are the math center activities like cubes, wrap-ups, flash cards, coins, beads, string, and a cardboard clock. I like to keep these things where they come out into the room one at a time on my recommendation. Otherwise the floor space turns into math manipulative soup.
The top shelf contains all the books from years past that are being saved for hand-me-downs to younger boys. I also create a 2 inch 3-ring binder for each year they have completed that consists of a sampling of that year’s work in addition to any art and writing they finished.
Being organized has decreased my stress level on homeschooling days significantly and it is a blessing to have a separate homeschool room.