We have gone crazy since Christmas cleaning out, organizing, and cleaning up our home. It all started with my girls wanting to renovate their room. In order to paint and set their room up like they wanted, we really had to purge. It was incredible! After we finished cleaning up everything, there was a weight lifted from the oppression of constant clutter. I wanted this feeling in our school room since it was a place we had been avoiding for the last couple of months! Am I the only one whose homeschool room gets out of hand?
1 - Rearrange the School Room
Sometimes a simple adjustment of what you already have can do wonders for giving your schoolroom that needed lift. While I loved having all of my books in my school room, the room was crowded with shelves, and all of my gear that I brought home from Classical Conversations would just overwhelm the room. We started with moving my big cabinet out to the garage and two of our bookshelves into our bedroom. It's amazing what a little rearranging can accomplish. Room to breathe - yes, it's so nice!
2 - Purge
While you're shifting around your books and materials, make sure that your prized real-estate is working for you and not against you with only the things that you need this year. If there is curriculum you're not using anymore, don't feel bad getting rid of it. If you need to keep copies of your child's school work for reports at the end of the year, then file the necessary items away, and don't feel bad about throwing away the 100th copy of their math facts practice. It is amazing how wonderful organized feels. It's really hard to feel that way when you're shackled by stuff.
3 - Retire Old Art Work
This one is hard for me. I love the sweet art my children make, but there is no way I can keep it all. My favorite thing to do with their art work is to take pictures of it and add it to the end of our family photo book that year. That way I have a record of their sweet drawings, but I don't have to store it all. Of course, the best of the best is treasured forever, but this way I don't feel guilty for throwing some away!
4 - Showcase Favorite Artwork
I took a cue from my girls' room design and asked my husband to make me a fun way to showcase some of my kid's favorite artwork! I love this simple way to hang up artwork that will be easy to change out as they keep creating. When I change things out, I'll be sure to take a picture for my year end photo book, and not feel bad about filing it away in the trash.
5 - Simplify the Storage
I think I had about 8 cups of pens, 4 boxes of crayons, and sticky notes strewn about the room. My husband made this beautiful storage container for all of our writing utensils to live in one place. The girls and I sorted through the pens to find the ones that didn't work, threw them away, and then stored whatever didn't fit in this container. I'm so excited to have a simple and beautiful place to store all of the essentials.
6 - Sort, Sort, Sort
All of those wonderful books you've been collecting for your home library need to be sorted into families just like they do at the library. This helps your kids not only find them and use them as you'd hoped, but hopefully learn where to put them back when they're done. Have them help with this process so they can have ownership of the final destination of all of their books! You might even find them getting lost in a good book along the way.
7 - Share the Wealth
Most of the time you can easily find someone to sell your curriculum you no longer need, but often, there are things that may be just as rewarding to give away than to sell. While cleaning out my shelves, I found multiple copies of several books I love. It's a problem of seeing books that I love on the $1 clearance section at Half Price Books and not being able to resist buying. However, when they're on my shelf three years later, it's time to let them go. I posted my books on my homeschool community Facebook page and had so much fun giving away books that I treasured to people who I knew would love them as well.
8 - Refresh Your Shelves
You know how mad you get at Walmart for updating their stores. It's frustrating because you can't find things you were used to finding. Why do they do it? They are genius. If you could find exactly what you need and bypass all of the additional aisles, you wouldn't see any of that wonderful merchandise you never knew you needed. Do the same thing with your books. Rearrange your books and put the ones you want your kids soaking in at eye level (kinda like the candy by the check out). Thin out the selection a bit, and rotate in new books every few weeks. It will give your school room new life as books see more action than they have in a while.
9 - Put Away One Thing at a Time
Anytime you rearrange things, the job gets worse before it gets better. My youngest gets easily overwhelmed with cleaning up, and recently we were talking about a strategy to overcome a messy space: put away one thing at a time.
If you're looking at your pile of mess and thinking, "How will this ever get finished?", adjust your thinking and ask yourself, "What one thing can I put away?" It's like pick up sticks. Find the one easy thing to put away, and then find the next easy thing. By working on the job a bite at a time, you'll either soon be finished, or soon find all of the unnecessary items that are lurking in your school room that just need to find a new home.
10 - Pay Attention to the View
I don't know about you, but I don't want to be facing a wall all day long. If I'm going to be spending time in my homeschool room, I want to have a good view! Maybe you don't have windows like mine to look out, but it's a great idea to make your view something worth looking at. What inspires you? Put that in front of you. I love these vision boards from Working Mom Magic.
Above all, if this is going to be a place you're spending lots of time in, make sure it is inspiring and lovely. If it inspires you to learn, then you'll want to be there with your kids, and that is really the best way to reclaim your school room. If they know you want to be there with them, they will want to be there with you. Then learning can happen.
How are you reclaiming spaces in your home?
Wooden Pencil Caddy
If you'd like to make a pencil caddy like the one in my room, you can click here for PDF instructions. If you're not as industrious, and you'd still like one in your room, check out my husband's etsy shop and get him to make one for you! Here are a couple more pictures for fun.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.