Often, parents think organizing their homeschool means organizing homeschool curriculum and creating a schedule. Those are two important ingredients (and we explain how to accomplish those tasks!), but we have a full menu of additional strategies to help you organize your homeschool effectively—from record-keeping to meal prep!
Experienced, organized homeschoolers know homeschooling is smoother when you also take time to organize homeschool records and assignments (if you use assignments), set up your home for homeschooling, strategize your house cleaning, and plan your meals.
Incorporating the best systems for homeschool organizing will create a more harmonious homeschool lifestyle—for you and for the kids!
Keeping your resources and homeschool curriculum organized will help you and your kids keep track of books, workbooks, school supplies, project materials, and all the tools needed for homeschooling.
Organizing physical curriculum, books, and supplies
Homeschooling comes with the addition of lots of things that take up space. Here are some ideas for organizing your homeschool curriculum, books, and other physical supplies:
- Repurpose furniture. Consider a repurposed entertainment center, armoire or buffet to create a place for everything that is behind closed doors. These are inexpensive at thrift stores and garage sales, and they look great with a fresh coat of paint.
- Use a closet. Use a few shelves in your pantry closet (handy if everyone gathers in the kitchen) or add shelves to another closet, so each child can have a shelf that can contain work "to do" and completed work.
- Create a "family command center." Set up in a central area: wall calendar with important dates, white board or chalk board, sticky notes, home address, and phone numbers.
- Shelve it. Bookshelves, bookshelves, bookshelves! You can have a specific section of a bookshelf for each kid and one spot for the library bag (or each library bag, if each kid has one). Basic school supplies can go on top of a lower bookshelf: markers, scissors, pencils, pencil sharpener, paper, and headphones for online work with audio.
- Store items according to kids' ages. Make sure kids can "help themselves" by reaching for the right books and supplies on their own. Older kids' materials and the oil paints go on taller shelves to be out of reach of the littles.
- Use a crate system. Give each child a plastic crate to contain their books, curriculum, and materials. Add a couple of folders for completed work and checklists.
- Prepare totes & backpacks. Have "to go" bags or backpacks for each kid to make it easy to use car time or waiting time at piano lessons so kids can read, write, draw, or work on curriculum pages.
- Gather a morning basket. Gather basic materials and books in a morning basket you'll use to ease into your morning routine with all kids, all ages, learning together.
- Save completed work. Have a box or bin in an established place for each child's completed work and artistic creations.
- Hang on to unloved curriculum for a while. Don't be too quick to resell or give away curriculum that "doesn't work" if you are homeschooling more than one child. Homeschoolers famously find that a curriculum that worked for one child won't work for the next, but the curriculum that didn't work for the oldest works well for a younger sibling. Designate a box or shelf for curriculum worth saving even if it's not in current use.
- Rolling homeschool cart. Keep curriculum close at hand but also be able to roll it out of the way by using a rolling homeschool cart.
A word about desks. Homeschoolers tend not to use "school desks," but if you or your child wants to, you can use them and organize curriculum and books under the seat just like you used to do in school.
Homeschoolers often gather at a central table (in the kitchen, dining room, or homeschool room) or use a regular desk instead of a school desk. Frankly, in some families, a lot of homeschooling is done under the kitchen table, flopped across a bed, or by reading in a hammock.
Organizing digital/PDF curriculum files, online curriculum, and online classes
Some homeschool curriculum is delivered from the curriculum company to the customer as PDF files. These may come in emails or in downloads through the company's website.
Other companies have their curriculum as part of a platform that is meant to be used online with a student actively logged in to the curriculum company's website.
Many homeschoolers also use online classes as part of their learning.
Here are a few homeschooling organization ideas for online tools:
- Folders on your desktop. Create folders on your computer where you can save the relevant curriculum emails and URLs. Include digital receipts for purchases.
- Passwords. Use a password manager or keep a record of passwords you create or use to access your digital homeschool curriculum, whether you download files or your child works on the company's online platform.
- Bookmarks toolbar. Use the bookmarks toolbar on your browser to create folders for each child and put all bookmarks to their online resources in that folder. The folder becomes a dropdown menu giving easy access to the needed URLs.
- Curriculum on your device. Consider pros and cons of viewing your PDF curriculum on a device without printing. Some curricula look amazing on an iPad or other tablet and are easy to use there; however, kids' responses vary—some may be distracted knowing other "fun" apps are on the same device.
- Printing digital curriculum. You can also choose to print and bind downloaded curriculum yourself or hole punch it and put it in a notebook. Another option is to outsource the job to a printing company that will print from your file and ship your hard copy to you for less than printing it locally. (You may need to provide a notice from the curriculum company stating that they allow printing for personal use before a printing company will complete the print job.)
- Grade reports and completion certificates. Save screen shots and/or printed copies of completion reports and grades if your curriculum platform provides these. In some states, you may be able to use these as part of an annual assessment, or you may want them for your own records. Some platforms end access at the end of the term you paid for.
Keep these considerations in mind when deciding to use digital resources:
- Internet speed and devices. Before purchasing online resources, make sure your internet service and your devices meet the minimum required for downloading large files, loading complex websites, or handling video for remote learning homeschool classes. Do you have enough computers or tablets for all the kids who will be using them? Will a tablet work with the online program or class you have chosen?
- Copyright. Know the copyright rules for your curriculum. Most curriculum PDFs can be used for more than one child in the same family but cannot be forwarded or sold to anyone outside the family.
Not all homeschooling families use curriculum for which they create a daily plan or assignments that children do independently, especially before high school or middle school.
That said, many do!
If your child does have daily and weekly expectations—or if you as the teacher need a way to plan out your curriculum over days or weeks—you may be looking for ways to organize each subject's homeschool assignments. That way, the kids are clear on what they need to do for each subject or on each day, and you have all your materials gathered and ready to use.
Here are some options:
- TheHomeschoolMom's free Printable Homeschool Planner. Has assignment pages as well as pages to record natural learning for interest-led homeschoolers.
- Homeschool Planner Plus, our digital homeschool planner. Spreadsheet-based planner that is expandable to cover all years of a student's schooling from elementary grades through high school; includes an attendance sheet that automatically calculates attendance for the year based on daily input.
- Workboxes. Consider using a "drawers" or "workbox" system to organize your child's homeschool curriculum for the day.
- Homeschool Planet. Popular digital planner designed for homeschoolers. Includes separate log-in for each family member.
- Bullet journal for homeschooling.
- Trello. Works well for homeschool planning.
Organizing Homeschool Records
Your homeschool organization should include keeping records for your homeschool:
State requirements. Depending on your state law, you may need to keep certain types of homeschool records. For example, some states have notification requirements, assessment requirements, portfolio requirements, attendance requirements, or hours requirements. Check your state and local homeschool groups to find the homeschooling laws for your state.
Not all states require this level of record-keeping, so it's worthwhile to look into it and not waste your time on unnecessary documentation.
School enrollment. You may also want to keep some records in case your child needs to enroll in school. While grade placement is up to the school at the time your child transitions from homeschool to public school, your records may help school administrators in determining appropriate placement.
High school transcripts. High school students will need a transcript that reflects their studies. Keeping track of what teens are learning will help you create a solid homeschool transcript. An accurate transcript can help a child with gaining admission to college, going to trade school, getting a job, or joining the military.
You may find miscellaneous needs for records, such as needing to show paperwork so your teen can enroll in drivers education class in some states.
Progress tracking & nostalgia. In addition to outside needs for records, you may want records of learning for yourself. Tracking what your child has learned can help you plan future learning and can give you a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, you may want to revisit your records and portfolios over the years when you feel nostalgic.
TheHomeschoolMom's Printable Homeschool Planner will help you keep your homeschool records together regardless of your need and purpose.
Organizing Your Home for Homeschooling
There are several ways you can organize your home for homeschooling:
- Create a separate homeschool room where all your homeschool activities take place and all your materials are kept
- Homeschool with no homeschool room—but with homeschooling integrated throughout your home and homeschool resources stored or as part of the environment, somewhat blending into the background
- With homeschool learning centers obviously set up around the house
- With your outdoor areas maximized for homeschooling
What's best? What works for you and your family!
There are always pros and cons to having a homeschool room. Many people swear by having a separate homeschool room right up until they decide it's not working for them any more—and vice versa. Lots of families don't have the space to have a distinct homeschool room, and they still homeschool successfully.
Many people use parks, trails and common areas for homeschooling outdoors (nature walks, biking for phys ed, making letters with sidewalk chalk), while others help their kids learn in their vegetable gardens or the sandbox in their back yard.
- Organize homeschool supplies as well as curriculum—paper, pens and pencils, scissors, art supplies, white boards, pencil sharpeners, and more.
Organizing, Maintaining & Cleaning Your Home While Homeschooling
When you homeschool, your house will have more of that lived-in look than ever. Our best suggestions for keeping a home clean and organized for homeschooling:
- Lower your standards; be realistic
- Choose furniture and carpet to match the colors of your shedding pets
- Emphasize basic organization - a place for every thing
- Plan for ongoing cleaning and maintenance
- Involve your children in household responsibilities when they are too young to actually be helpful
Try one of these apps to help you create and stay on top of a home maintenance routine:
Find Insta-inspiration and direction for housecleaning on Instagram:
Organizing Your Meals Around Homeschooling
Many new homeschooling parents are surprised by the unexpected homeschool challenge of feeding everyone when all the kids are home all the time and there is less unencumbered time for a parent to plan meals or quickly slip to the grocery store without littles. If a parent has cut down on paid work to homeschool, there is less income for take-out meals and convenience foods.
Paying attention to the kids and organizing your homeschool is much easier when you know you have a plan for dinner. We suggest:
- Make weekly menus (or use free weekly meal plans online)
- Plan one big monthly shopping trip
- Have a regular weekly shopping day and time to fill in with a bigger monthly shopping trip
- Prepare dinner during school time. (No, really!)
Our sister site, Add Salt & Serve (formerly Menus4Moms), can help you put dinner on the table with less stress and more savings. The Secrets of a Busy Cook are the key to making dinner prep stress-free.
At Add Salt & Serve you will find recipes, tips for saving time and money, bulk/freezer cooking helps, and dinner menus plans.
Organizing Your Time for Homeschooling
Organizing your time means creating a homeschooling schedule or routine. Many parents like to plan their schedules by the week, or they may also come up with a daily routine that is not precisely fixed to clock hours but by blocks of time organized around predictable aspects of your day, such as meals, the baby's nap, a regular walk, and even when the neighbor kids get home from school.
Our homeschool schedules post gives examples and a free workbook that will help you organize your time and create a schedule that fits your situation.
When you organize your time, don't forget to include time for the primary homeschooling parent to rest, pursue an interest, or work away from home. When children are young, admittedly, this is tough for parents who have decided to be at-home parents. You may be able to hire a hero of homeschooling—a mother's helper to get a break without leaving the house.
Parents who are sharing homeschooling by tag-teaming and working for pay will want to remember to include "time off" for both parents, hard as it is to come by.
Homeschool Organization FAQs
How do I organize my home for homeschooling?
- set up a designated classroom that is separate from the rest of the house and has school desks for the kids
- set up an extra room like a cozy den with comfy spots for reading and a table for seat work and projects—if you have space
- set up learning stations around your home
- have learning take place at your kitchen or dining table, with materials in cupboards or closets or on bookshelves
- use "workboxes" or crates for each child's books and materials
- let learning take place however and wherever, and gradually put the right resources in the places children gravitate toward
- set up desks and cozy reading nooks in children's bedrooms
- create an art or project table where materials and supplies can stay in plain sight
- set up a family center with calendar, white board, sticky notes, and important numbers
Many experienced homeschoolers start out with a homeschool room and let go of it over a few years as homeschooling becomes more of a natural part of life. Other parents prefer a separate room to keep the homeschool clutter and process contained to specific areas. Do what works for you and your kids, knowing that people homeschool in all kinds and sizes of houses and apartments!
How do I organize my homeschool curriculum?
Homeschoolers may use digital/online resources, physical materials like books and workbooks, or a combination of both.
Organize physical materials such as books and resources:
- on shelves (bookshelves, in closets, or in repurposed furniture)
- in workboxes
- in crates—one for each child
- in learning centers around the house
- at each child's desk
- on a rolling cart
- in a morning basket
Designate a specific place for kids to place completed work and projects they want to save.
Organize digital materials by
- designating a folder on your computer for downloads
- keeping a record of passwords and logon information for you and the kids
- printing, taking screenshots, or downloading files that indicate progress, completion, or assessment
- putting live pre-scheduled online classes on your calendar
- helping your child learn to bookmark useful websites
What else should I organize for homeschooling besides my curriculum?
In addition to organizing your homeschool curriculum, homeschooling will work more smoothly if you also organize:
- your homeschool records
- your routine or schedule
- your materials, resources and school supplies
- your home itself
- your meals and grocery shopping
Think beyond "organizing my curriculum" to how your days and weeks will be scheduled, how you'll keep everyone fed now that you're all home all the time, and how you'll keep the house from devolving into chaos. You won't get all of the organization perfect, but thinking beyond the curriculum to a whole homeschooling lifestyle will help you have a smoother homeschooling experience.
The Organized Homeschooler
You and your kids are learning together and using your home harder than ever, so getting organized on the home front will help reduce chaos. Then you can enjoy your family more, feel less overwhelmed, and get things done.
All aspects of your homeschool will not become well organized overnight, but when you take steps to organize your curriculum, your home, or your meals, you'll start to feel more calm. You're on your way to becoming an organized homeschooler!