It used to be that whenever I talked to somebody about homeschooling, I made sure to mention how much time we spent outside of our home. Choir, softball, co-op day, volunteering at the local retirement community, visiting the library, meeting up with friends — some weeks, it seemed like we spent more time learning in the car than we did at home.
And then 2020 happened.
With a high-risk kiddo, we’ve spent 99% of our time at home over the past 13 months. We watch movies, go to online church, do school/work, play games, listen to music, meet with friends virtually…all from our living room.
After a full year at home, it was time to make some much-needed changes to our space and systems.
Our home is small and cozy. Unlike most of our homeschooling friends, we don’t have a dedicated space just for school. We have two bedrooms, one main living area, and our basement (which currently houses our book collection, a small play area, and our exercise equipment).
When the girls were younger (preK and 2nd grade), I set up our learning area in a corner of the basement. It was nice to have a separate place for school activities, especially since the books and toys are all stored down there.
But a couple of years ago — when their daily workload and the length of our school day increased — we moved both desks upstairs to the back wall in our living room. It’s easier to have the kids do school on the main floor, so I can multi-task throughout the day (while helping them to stay focused).
Our living room is quite large, but we don’t entertain large groups of guests often (or at all during a pandemic). Inspired by the small spaces on display at IKEA, we realized we could maximize our living room for more than one purpose.
We bought a small bookshelf for my teacher materials and store the wireless printer on top. It sits on the wall perpendicular to our kids desks, and we have a 6-cubby shelf between them for textbooks and library books. On top of the cubby, we keep jars of sharpened pencils, whiteboard markers, and the colored pencils the kids use for spelling and geography.
Last month, we added in a homeschool wall organizer over the cubby, next to a wall clock and a Monet poster we bought on clearance. The organizer has a large calendar, plus a file holder to store clipboards and daily checklists. We also hung scissors, rulers, and $1 timers on the organizer hooks so none of our school supplies ‘walk’ away.
Next to the kids’ desks (behind the couch), we added a small round table with two chairs and an exercise ball. After 8 years of homeschooling, I know that my girls like to move around during the day. This way, they can spread out at the table, curl up cozily on the couch, lay down on the floor, bounce on the exercise ball, or work independently at their desks. They are also free to work in their bedroom or sit at the larger kitchen table around the corner, if they need some alone time.
These simple changes have helped us make the most of our small space. After school, the girls can do art or puzzles at the round table, and they have a permanent place to store their library books.
Best of all: our kids are developing independence and taking ownership of their learning. The calendar and checklists show them exactly what needs to be done, and the clock and timers help with time management. Having a variety of seating options keeps our learning area cozy and gives them freedom to choose the environment best for them.
Using a Homeschool Wall Organizer
I received a free organizer and was compensated for my time writing the review, but all opinions are my own! Read our full disclosure policy here.
The Susan from 1Thrive is perfect for our learning space. The special liquid chalk markers are vibrant so we can read the calendar from across the room. And since they aren’t dry-erase markers, the kids won’t accidentally smudge them with their fingers! (When you’re ready to change something, the color comes off easily with just a little bit of water.)
Benefits of the 1Thrive Wall Organizer:
- The frame and chalkboard/whiteboard are magnetic!
- Two small buckets are included to store markers, pushpins, or small plants. (We keep our multitude of timers in one bucket, so we can always find them.)
- The individual pieces can be rearranged for maximum efficiency using a simple frame and hook system.
- It helps my kids be independent, organized, and self-directed during the day.
- It’s prettier than anything I could buy at a teacher supply store! (And I love the teacher supply store.)
And get this: it was a breeze to install! The necessary hardware arrived with the organizer, and after a little bit of measuring/planning, we had the frame on the wall in just a few minutes! (You can use over the door hooks if you prefer not to install your organizer on the wall.)
Win a free 1Thrive wall organizer here:
Since we started using our homeschool wall organizer, I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from 1Thrive on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest — it’s where I got the idea to hang the kids’ scissors from the hooks!
Using one family wall organizer works well for our combined learning space, but I could also see the benefits of getting one for each child. There are so many ways to customize the organizer for your family!
Use code homeschool10 for 10% off any organizer. (Does not expire. One use per customer.)
How could an organizer help your homeschool?
Share your ideas in the comments below!