Welcome to Day 4 of the 5 Days to an Organized Homeschool Challenge!
Books! They are the joy, treasure, and Achilles’ Heel of most homeschoolers! I don’t know about you, but I have found that organizing my books is my biggest challenge when it comes to keeping my schoolroom tidy!
Today’s challenge will have two parts. First is the “Consideration” stage, and the second is the “Organization” stage.
Step 1: Take a good look through the books in your school area. Do you use them all? Do you have books hanging around that are simply in the way? Think through how you use the books you have, and how valuable they are to you right now.
Step 2: Consider your space. How many book cases do you have? How many books need to be cleared out? Do you need to make space or do you just need a better system to organize your books? Don’t just consider your schoolroom while thinking things through. You don’t have to store all your books and curriculum in one room unless the space in your home forces you to.
Step 3: Plan where you’re going to reshelf your books after you sort through them. Do you need to keep everything school related in one place, or can you have separate zones in your home? If you have more than one place for books, only keep what you are currently using in your school space. Store the rest in a different area and simply update the school area every year or semester. Read the examples and then create your plan for how you will store your books after you sort them.
1. A family has 3 sets of book cases that line the dining room wall. This is the only space in the home for bookshelves, and all school materials need to stay in this one place. The parents decided to keep all curriculum that is not currently in use on the top shelves, teacher guides for the current year have their own shelf, the children each have a place for their books, and then general books are placed on the bottom two shelves where everyone has access.
2. One family has both a school room and several sets of book shelves located through the home. The school room only holds what is relevant to that school year, and then the parents have separate areas for curriculum and reading books.
3. Another family has built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace. This is the only place in the home for books and school materials. The mom stores all curriculum on one side of the fireplace, and the other side holds all reading books and books currently in use. Since space is tight, the family donates or sells one book for each new book bought.
Step 1: Use your bins again, or simply clear space to sort your books. You will need four spaces or bins –
Currently in Use: Use this space/bin for the books you are using in your classroom this year. These are the books you have to have on hand to complete your plan for the year.
Future Use: Do you have a books on your shelf you aren’t using right now, but want to get to in the future? Put them in this pile.
Donate/Sell: This is the most painful pile for many homeschoolers! This is the place where you will sort curriculum and books that you are not using and don’t plan to use again.
Keep: This location is for books that you are not using, and don’t plan to use in the near future, but want to hang on to for nostalgic reasons.
Step 2: Begin with your curriculum. Go through your curriculum, teacher guides, and any additional teaching books. Carefully consider how you use each item and place it in the appropriate bin/space.
– Get rid of any curriculum below the learning level of your youngest child or child with the lowest learning level. You don’t need it any more, and if you’re thinking about saving it for the grandkids, it will likely be outdated by the time they come along.
– If you have curriculum on your shelves that you are planning to use in the next several years, set it to the side and separate it from the curriculum you are currently using. If you keep both current and future curriculum in the same place, you’re just cluttering up your day-to-day space.
– Sort out curriculum that you are either finished with or that you are not planning to use again. Sell it or pass it on to someone else that can use it and clear the space on your shelves.
Step 3: Put away your curriculum.
– Put away your current curriculum first in locations close to where you use each book or guide. If you’re working in more than one place during your school day, place your current curriculums in the place closest to where it is used.
– Next start your curriculum library with your future pile. Come up with a method for your space that will allow you to easily locate curriculum when needed. Sort onto the shelf by grade level, child, or subject. My suggestion it to sort your curriculum library by subject, and in each subject section order your books by grade level. You will be able to easily grab what you need each school year, and once your library is set up, you can quickly store items until they are needed again. This will work very well for families with multiple children who may use a specific curriculum several times over the years.
– Find a home for your keep pile. Keep it away from your curriculum library to make sure it doesn’t get mixed in and misplaced over the years.
– Set your donate/sell pile to the side. This challenge is meant to be completed in one day, so finish the challenge, and then take all of your books to donate, or list them for sale at the end of the day.
Step 4: Process your children’s books. Go through the school room and house and gather any books for children. This includes fiction and non-fiction picture books, early readers, chapter books, and young adult books. Sort them using the 4 spaces/bins method above.
– This is a prime time to clear out any books that are below your youngest child’s reading level. Feel free to save some of the books your family loved during the early years, but don’t hold on to them all!
– Use the current bin to hold any books your children are currently working through or that are related to a subject you are currently studying.
– Use the future bin for any books you want to keep in circulation, but don’t relate directly to your current subjects.
Step 5: Put away your children’s books.
– Designate a space for non-fiction books. Sort the non-fiction books between picture books and reading books. Put them away in their designated space from your earlier planning. Depending on how your family uses books, you may want to order your non-fiction books by subject so you can easily grab books that coordinate with your curriculum.
– Repeat the same process with your fiction books.
– If there are loved items that you don’t want to keep in circulation, you may want to store them in the same place as your kept curriculum.
Step 6: Process your adult/advanced books. Follow the same process as your children’s books. At this point, you should have an orderly system for your books that you can keep up with and will save you headaches from the clutter that books can cause.
Step 7: Process your Sell/Donate pile. If you are going to donate or consign your pile of items to get rid of, box it up and put it in your car immediately. The easiest way to undo your organizing work is for the kids to find this pile and scatter it all over the place! If you are going to sell some of your items online, take photos of each item and then move them to a location the kids can’t get to. Give yourself a deadline for listing the items to get them moved out.
Some other ideas to continue controlling the books in your home:
– Give your library books a home. Use a box, bin, or basket to store all your library books while they are in your home. Teach the kids they can only take one book out at a time, and to put that book back before getting another one.
– Give the kids easy access to books that are related to your subjects by designating a space or shelf and routinely stocking it from your fiction or non-fiction libraries.
– At the end of each semester or school year, gather all finished curriculum and process it using the method above. Keep only what will be needed again or books you may need for reference, and store them in the previously designated places.
– Keep only what you are currently using in your learning space if at all possible. Store curriculum and unused books in another space in your home. By minimizing your surroundings in your school space, you will feel less cluttered and overwhelmed.
Whew! We are almost done organizing the basics of your homeschool room! Click here for the final day of the organizing challenge: Manage Your Manipulatives.
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