My Homeschool Supply Closet/Cupboard/Cave-Under-the-Stairs
As you may or may not know, we are living in an apartment right now, and consequently, we do not have a dedicated homeschool classroom. To some, this may seem like an impossible homeschooling situation. Where do we do our work? Where do we learn?
To be honest, we do our work and our learning where we do all the other things we do in our apartment. In our kitchen, in our living room, in our bedrooms. We have even done some science experiments in the bathrooms, and I recall one that was conducted in a dark closet, because we needed the darkest possible space in the middle of the day. Sometimes we do our work outside on the porch swing, and if we really need more space, we take it with us to the library. I bought a clipboard for each of the boys, and they are magical. And to be honest, who doesn't want to curl up somewhere comfortable when reading a book?
The trickiest part was probably finding a way to store and organize all the homeschool supplies so that they weren't all over our living spaces all the time, and so that they would be easily accessed. The answer to this was the smallish closet under the stairs.
It reminds me of Harry Potter's famous Cupboard Under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
I hung our Tag Reader Human Body Poster and growth chart on the inside of the door. Don't mind that Budweiser mirror - it's something of a family heirloom. You can also see our zipper binders stacked near the door, along with an extra backpack for taking homeschool out and about.
There are two art easels, the crayola one for kids, along with a "grown-up" one. Canvases and paints. Piles of hands-on stuff and stacks of library books. I didn't clean the closet up before this photo shoot, because there are often piles of homeschool stuff in there. Honestly, as long as it's in the closet and not on the kitchen counter, it isn't such a bother to me. I just close the door.
There are a couple of file boxes and a filing cabinet. Not all the files are full of homeschool stuff. Some are just documents and things that we need as a family. Being a family creates paperwork.
You can also see the big piece of furniture that I put in the closet. It's an old fashioned secretary cabinet. It is probably the biggest help in keeping things organized.
Here are some of the most important things we use in our homeschool. Each of the boys has a pencil box, and these come out every day. There are two magazine racks, again one for each, and those are filled with their workbooks for the year. These don't come out very often. Occasionally, I will pull them out, and then I use an exact-o knife to cut the pages out and three hole-punch them to put them into their binders. I try to keep about a month worth of curriculum for all of their subjects in their binders.
The secretary cabinet is full of homeschool manipulatives, games, books, supplies, movies, etc. Some of it is corralled in little baskets. Some of it is more free-range in the bottom drawers. In fact, the bottom-most drawer is full of puzzles. The puzzle boxes didn't fit in the drawer, so I cut the pictures off the front of the boxes and put the pieces in large ziplock bags. It was a huge space saver.
The most important part of our homeschooling out of a closet may be these zipper binders. Connor uses the green one, and Lex's is the black one.
These come with us whenever we are homeschooling away from home. (Having such a portable homeschool system already in place makes it easy to travel and hotel-school.) They come out of the closet everyday, and the boys know to find one page for each subject inside to complete everyday. (One page works out nicely because I bought daily workbooks for most of their curriculum this year, and each page is already clearly labeled with the week number and the day of the week that it is to be completed. This habit just carried over into the other subjects that were not from daily practice workbooks.)
Since they close with a zipper and have a ton of pockets, there is a lot of stuff that gets stored in there.
This is an example of a workbook page that I sliced from a workbook and then put into the binder. Keeping a month worth of work in there means that they don't have to move around an entire school year's worth of paper every day. And it means that I'm not cutting up workbook pages and assembling binders too often.
I have found that they work on their favorite subjects more often than just one page a day. Several times this year I have had to add more geography and phonics pages to their binders before the rest of their subjects were done for the month. (It's a little bit funny that they both have the same favorite two subjects.) I'm totally fine with them working ahead on the subjects that they enjoy. That's part of the reason that we do this whole homeschool thing.