Organizing School Supplies when You Homeschool in a Small Space

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Homeschooling in small quarters can be challenging. It seems school supplies breed in the night and then disappear during the day. How can we keep things corralled and organized without tripping over all the tools and things we need for our daily lessons?

Organizing School Supplies in a Small Space 5 day back to home school series at ApronStringsOtherThings.com

Our family has had the pleasure of having a designated school room with plenty of storage space as well as the challenge of squeezing into tight quarters with hardly enough room for people let alone ‘stuff.’ One thing I’ve learned is not matter how large or small our space is, we fill it.

I once thought having a beautiful, spacious school would solve all our troubles with keeping organized. I was wrong. I also had the idea that living in a tiny space would make it impossible to do any schooling. I was wrong. We’ve been on the homeschooling journey for a long time now and I’ve learned a few things over the years. It may help when you are storing school supplies in a limited space.

Accept The Challenge.

Let’s face it. We all have a limited amount of space. Whether it is a big, open room or a small bookshelf in a corner, our school supplies have to be confined to certain boundaries.  Why fight the fact that you are given only so much space? Most of us are not going to be in a position of building an addition onto our homes just for school supplies (if you can, Huzzah!) so we might as well own the space we’ve been given and make the most of it. Attitude is everything.

Don’t be Deceived.

All that glitters is not necessarily what we need. I just might look forward to school shopping in the summer time even more than I look forward to Christmas. The scent of a brand new box of crayons makes my heart pitter-patter. And the feel of a brand new, unblemished notebook, pristine pages flipping through my fingers – well, don’t even get me started!

It is so much fun wandering the back-to-school aisles with my kids. We drool and dream, and then give ourselves a reality check. We begin asking questions. “Will the glittery notebook really help us do our lessons better?” “Will that cool super hero folder truly keep me organized?” “Does every child actually have to have their own stapler and hole punch?” And then the biggest question of all —  “Where will all this stuff live? Do we have room for it all?”

Let me burst your bubble. The cutest notebook and latest gadget will not guarantee a good school year. The fun and newness will wear off. Don’t make your purchases just because everyone else is buying it. Don’t fall for the promises sales ads make saying you can’t live without it.

Start with a Bare Bones List.

What is it you must have in order to do school every day? I asked my kids this question and they came back with pretty much the same answers. Pencil. Paper. Notebook. These are the things I am sure to stock up on. Everything else is bonus – if there’s enough room, enough money in the budget, etc. When living in a small space, make sure you have the most essential items accounted for first, before adding the fun, luxury items like sequined calculators.

Purge what is used up, broken, not used at all. Replace only what needs replacing. Purchase only what you’ll actually use. There will be less to store that way!

Be Honest.

Take a good look at the space you have. You will not be able to squeeze crates full of binders, every type of writing implement, 5 years worth of curriculum, art supplies and everything else into one small cabinet. Is it possible to replace the cabinet? Or move all the items to a place with more space? If the answer is ‘no’ then let it is time to let some of it go. Accept the fact that you can only house a certain amount in the space available and make it work. Be content. Like I said earlier, attitude is everything.

dollar store bins | Apron Strings & other things

Get Creative.

You can get (and stay) organized with your school supplies if you are willing to be creative. One option that worked well for us for quite a while was plastic dishpans. Each child had their own and they were stored on a small book shelf. They kept their workbooks, pencils, erasers, etc in it. It was easy to grab when it came time for school lessons and it was easy to clean up and store away. On the shelf below we housed any books or binders that did not fit in the bins.

You can stack plastic drawer sets on top of one another to house pens, pencils and other office supplies. Totes or milk crates can be kept on a closet shelf and pulled down as needed. What about a drawer or a dresser no longer being used? Give each kid a tote bag or back pack to house their supplies and hang them on a coat rack. Maybe there’s a corner in the pantry just the right shape and size for Teacher’s Answer Keys. Use under-the-bed storage containers and slide them under the couch for easy access. Pegboards can be used to take advantage of vertical space – attach to the wall and use hooks and bins to store items. Read my post Organizing the School Room to get more ideas.

Make Choices for Long Term.

The challenge with schooling in a small space is you will have to change things out each year, or each semester, each season. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the luxury of shopping for new storage bins and shelving units. So when I actually do purchase something for our schooling, I try to think ahead. How will we use this immediately? Does it have potential to ‘grow’ with us? As the kids get older their books get thicker and heavier. As my creative child gets more involved in his artwork will this be able to handle the supplies we’ll need?

Think about the here and now, but also think about what might be ahead. Book shelves and drawer units can be converted to storage for a new baby or furniture for the game room (and vice verse.) Take time to make wise decisions so you don’t end up with a houseful of not-so-useful items that are just in the way.

Include a Little Something Extra.

Going the ‘minimalist’ route definitely makes it easier to organize your school supplies and finding space for it all. But in the spirit of making things work, I sometimes take the fun out of it for my kids. To keep things balanced and give them something to look forward to, I try to find something a little fun, just because. I give my kids the go ahead to spend a bit of their own money on anything they would like to add to their own school stash (within reason, of course) As long as there is a place for it, and it’s something that will help or enhance their school work, I say OK!

A notebook with a 3-D sequin cover? Sure! A folder and set of pencils showcasing their favorite sports team? OK! Hello Kitty erasers? Why not! Sticking with the bare bones essentials and adding a little something extra, just because, keeps our supplies manageable and if we keep them where they belong, they also stay organized.

What are your favorite tips for organizing school supplies?

 

This post is the second in my Back to {HOME} School  5-Day Series.

Back to Home School A 5-Day Series Homeschool Review Crew at ApronSTringsOtherThings.com

 

All week long I’ll be joining my fellow Homeschool Review Crew Mates as we all get ready for a new school year. Check out their best tips, just click the image above. You can see their favorite School Supplies and visit the terrific posts in our linky party below!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017



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Comments

  1. A great post! Good tips for the people (the majority) who homeschool in a small space!

    • aww, thanks, Lisa 🙂 Most of us do have limited space. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking “if only I had more space” when getting more space is just out of the question. I hope you will be getting off to a terrific start with your new school year!

  2. What a wonderful reality check. Especially the reminder that we tend to fill whatever space we have.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Lori. I am trying to leave margin and boundary around all my spaces and not over-stuff. It isn’t easy, especially living with many people in a smaller home but it does make life more enjoyable!

  3. This is so true: All that glitters is not necessarily what we need. I like keeping our writing supplies in small pull out drawers. Keeps them all contained nicely.

    • Keeping it handy is key, isn’t it? I know around here, if we have to work at getting things out and/or putting them away, it just doesn’t happen. Love those pull out drawers!

  4. Great organizing tips for parents of all school-aged children. Congrats, you’re featured this week at the This Is How We Roll Link Party.

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