Visit any proper Home education or homeschooling blog and you will often find posts wherein the mother displays her glorious organisation system. Bookshelves that reach to the ceiling, stacked neatly with size arranged educational tomes, followed by colour coordinated draw and box systems for workbooks, equipment and bits. Each draw is neatly labelled and all the children know exactly where their pencils are at all times. Some homes even have a classroom!
It’s awful isn’t it? I groan in the pits of mother-home ed-failureness. I don’t think I will ever reach those levels of colour scheme pristineness. My children will always lose pencils and chew their rubbers. There will always be Lego,including a disturbing number of headless Lego men, beads and an astonishing number of marbles scattered around my house. Such is life. Such is our life anyway.
But we don’t live in absolute chaos either (well there are occasions, but they are just occasions honestly). So here is how I get the learning organised, stored and done.
The bookshelves are indeed packed and stacked with curriculum, workbooks and chocolate tins full of manipulatives, attribute blocks and laminated sentence strips. We have a low level storage thing from which I have removed the draws, thus making another bookcase and then I admit I have made bookcases and storage shelves out of cardboard boxes, which I have covered with paper or a small rug to hide (not all that well) the fact that my furniture is just a pile cardboard.
We do not have a set room for learning. A lot of the time it depends on what we are doing and how warm or cold it is. We have a pop up tent and a little red table that a friend gave me for those balmy summer days, (all three of them), or we might pack up and go and learn in the park. We spend more time in the living room in the Winter because it is warmer there than most other rooms. We use the dining room for craft, art or big group work.
The moving around can mean moving stuff around quite a bit. So each of my children has a “learning box“. I have bought these, rather than reuse parcel boxes, as they are tough boxes and have lasted well. Each of the younger children have one that will take a days work easily and can be carried to anywhere they might want to set up for a bit of learning.
It does mean that each morning I am setting the boxes up, but sometimes we just repack as we go along depending on what needs tweaking or changing for another day.
OK, I am going to admit that the learning box would work much better if I was better at sorting out what was to stay in the box and what should go back on the bookshelves. I am also beginning to think a bigger box might be better, especially for Ronan, but then his box wouldn’t fit in it’s little space and he wouldn’t be able to carry it.
My friend has rucksacks for her children’s learning stuff which they bring here for joint learning times.
The main disadvantage is, you do tend to need to know what the learning for that day entails. It doesn’t stop rabbit trails and moments of inspiration, but I think it could curb it. For us the workbook type work happens in the morning and the craft, experiments, cooking, art etc. happens in the afternoons, usually.
We have one of those high chairs that converts into a chair and table. This has proved to be much more useful than you might imagine. Apart from the size meaning Heleyna still uses it for meals so she doesn’t become a table-chinner, there is the fact that other babies and toddlers use it. Then when we are doing learning time it becomes the chair and table, either for Heleyna to sit next to me and work or for their keyboard lessons with Musical Adventure.
We have no attic or garage for storage, so “stuff” gets stored around the house. I do try and have a system, where what we are using now is easy to get hold of, and other stuff is stored around bedrooms, or lent out.
The floor level books are for the children to use as and when they want to. The higher up stuff is what I need to get down for them. I try to remember to rotate the books between the higher shelves and the floor level ones – but I am not that good at it.
Our final, and as far as the three younger ones are concerned, most important home education equipment is a large sofa and cuddly blankets. We tend to finish off most days of learning with read alouds.
Here are pics of my messy organisation – you wont find such photos in those posh magazines or those proper home ed sites – I home ed improperly hehehe.
Hope this helps Janine 🙂