Fairly often in the homeschooling journey, it is a good idea to step back and take a look at where you are, what you are doing, and what your children may need moving forward. The world of education is constantly evolving, and as you learn the ways your children learn best, it may also be time to reorganize your space too.
One way to do this is by setting up your space to better facilitate subject models. In other words, organizing your space into categories, even though many of them may overlap at times, helps keep both you and your kids on track during school time.
Another way of doing things is using the STEAM method. STEAM is essentially science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) expanded to include the arts, and is part of a growing movement to engage the creative side of your child’s brain along with the analytical side. This approach also shows students that art is an important part of their education and life.
Here are some tips and tricks that will help with every child, from toddlers to teens.
Gather What You Need
Before you do anything else, gather what you will need. You probably already have some emphasis on art in part of your curriculum, but determine ways to integrate it into other aspects of your teaching. This may mean that you need additional supplies or that you need to repurpose some of the ones you already have.
Fortunately, this does not mean you have to spend a great deal of money. In fact, there are many online resources for teaching STEAM
that are absolutely free. Online is not the only place to turn though. If you are lucky enough to have an Apple Store nearby, they offer free coding classes for kids, will often even come to your classroom, and have coding camps in the summertime. By teaching coding through gaming, your kids will learn without realizing they are “in school.”
Math is another skill that can be learned through gaming, and there are a lot of math gaming sites online too. Math puzzle books help, and even simple things like sudoku puzzles that get progressively harder, are a simple way to emphasize math.
Once you have gathered all of the online and offline resources you need, including physical textbooks and worksheets, it is time to get organized.
Organize Your Materials
The first step in any homeschool space organization project is to organize your materials. This can often be a challenge, as once you get started, you may become a victim of declutter overwhelm. Fortunately, this is not uncommon, and something that can be overcome.
● Set Aside Time: Set an appointment with yourself and keep it — not only when you have a lot of organization to do, but on a weekly basis to keep things clutter free and organized.
● Do One Thing: This is true with most of your time. In his book titled “The One Thing,” Garry Keller debunks the myth of the benefits of multitasking, but also talks about how much more productive you are when you focus. Don’t do other things while getting organized. Stay focused.
● Visualize Your Ideal Space: What would the ideal way for this space to be organized? Use diagrams and whatever system works for you to make sure you know where things are and that your children can find them as well.
● Make a Plan: Once you have your plan in mind, stay focused and follow it. Use your skills to create your ideal learning space.
Want to keep your space clutter free and teach your kids good habits at the same time? There are a number of tips you can use to keep all the kid zones in your house more organized.
● Less Is More: Keep what you have in your homeschool space school related and store extra materials elsewhere.
● Purge Often: Even if you plan to keep something to use at a later date, put it elsewhere until then. Keep your school space lean, and it will stay better organized. Just be sure your homeschool storage is organized too.
● Keep Cleanup Routines Simple: At the end of a particular subject or school time, get in the habit of you and and your kids cleaning up before moving on to something else.
Once your materials are organized the way you want them to be, and your learning space is set up, you will better be able to facilitate various subject modules.
Go High Tech
We already mentioned online resources above, but there is more to it than that. Things like iPads — available at a discount for educators — other tablets or laptops, programmable robots that are truly affordable, and even drones work well to teach the big four pillars of STEM. However, when embracing the broader STEAM, these devices are also useful. Most tablets have drawing apps like Adobe Sketch and others, coloring apps, and even 3D and virtual reality creators.
A word of caution here: Too much screen time is bad for both you and your kids, so limit the tech to certain tasks. This also helps your young students understand that these are not just playthings, but practical tools that can help them build their future.
Typically, refrain from using screen time as a reward. A more integrated, practical approach will help kids understand the way technology is an integrated part of nearly everyone’s lifestyle and education. However, tools like robots, drones, and others can teach kids more about their applications while allowing them to learn through play.
Tech is a balancing act but can be a great asset to facilitating subject modules in an organized way.
Recruit Your Kids
Your best asset in organizing your homeschool space and facilitating subject modules? Your kids. Getting them engaged in the process lets you organize things in a way they understand, like, and can even duplicate for you as they progress in their education. For nearly everyone, learning happens differently and organization also means something different.
From the time they are very young, recruit your kids into the organization effort. A schedule, routine, structure, and an organized space will help them develop better learning habits on their own. In a world where we carry devices in our pockets that contain the knowledge of the world, it is often more important for kids to learn how to research and learn than to engage deeply in any one subject.
Guide their organization, while at the same time letting them lead and make suggestions. Your space will be more comfortable and your teaching better for it.
It Takes a Village
The organization of your homeschool space to better facilitate subject modules is not a task you should undertake solely on your own. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, and the homeschool effort is no exception. Besides joining cooperatives and working with other homeschooling parents, consult with those parents and see what they are doing. Look at how their spaces are organized, and copy them if practical to do so.
Remember there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Besides the extensive connections you can have in your local community, there are online groups, organization ideas on Pinterest (besides curricula and other useful tips). No matter how overwhelmed you might feel at times, you are not alone in your efforts.
Organizing your homeschool space to better facilitate subject modules is an essential part of your child’s education. Gather what you need, recruit your kids to help teach you what they need, go high tech, and consult with others. The success and efficiency you (and your learners) will experience will make all of your effort worth it.
Brooke Faulkner is a mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She loves teaching and learning from her kids. you can see more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek