Ask the Experts

Q: “I Need Homeschool Organization Advice for a Mom with ADHD!”

Learning how to homeschool is complex yet rewarding. For parents with ADHD, organization may be the biggest initial hurdle. Use these strategies to organize your home classroom with intention.

Q: “We’ve decided to homeschool our two children (10 and 13) for the new school year and I want to try to get a jump on setting up our classroom. I’m not very organized (I’m the one with ADHD!) and don’t know where to start. I have one room set aside for homeschooling but want to also use other rooms for projects or science experiments. I have bins for storing supplies and materials but that’s it for now. Thanks!” — ADHDHomeSchoolMom

Hi ADHDHomeSchoolMom:

For homeschooling families, getting ready for back-to-school goes WAY beyond a trip to the local office store for brand new notebooks and binders. Curriculum materials need to be sorted and grouped. Spaces need to be optimized and organized. Books and resources all need accessible homes so as not to cause clutter. It truly can be overwhelming not knowing where to begin. I have ideas to help organize your homeschooling space so you can start the new school year off on track.

Create a Central Command Station

Earmark one area in your designated homeschooling room where you will store the bulk of your homeschooling supplies — items you are going to access daily. (Surplus storage or infrequent items can be regulated to a closet or another room in your house.) Open and accessible shelves, such as bookcases or cubbies are a natural and easy choice — and not just for textbooks or reading materials. They can be customized in multiple ways to suit your teaching and family’s needs.

Here are some tips to maximize their efficiency.

1. Store the supplies that you use on a regular basis in open bins or containers. “Open” being the key here. You want to streamline the process of retrieving materials as well as putting them back. Just easily remove a bin from the shelf, grab the necessary supplies, and quickly put the bin back — no clutter, and no guesswork as to what’s inside! Added plus? Small hands can easily maintain this system.

[Read: Learn More by Keeping It Neat]

And a tip within a tip. There are endless ways to organize with bins. My favorite? Sort your curriculum by units in open bins that hold all the books, kits, resource materials, games, and tools needed for that subject.

2. If you have deep shelves, use organizers with drawers that stack on top of each other. I like these because there’s no need to unstack containers to get to the ones on the bottom. A win during a busy school day.

3. Labels are YOUR best friend… and your child’s! Make sure to label each container clearly. This will act as a visual reminder of what’s inside and also help you know where things go when you’re tired after a long school day.

4. Magazine files work really well on an open bookcase. Use clear transparent ones as a catch-all for papers, workbooks, forms, or important information you need to keep at your fingertips. Don’t forget to label!

[Read: School Organization 101: Clutter-Free Backpacks and Bedrooms]

5. If you’re worried you might have trouble keeping track of assignments or supplies, consider organizing by color. Color-coding simplifies the process of finding items according to subject. Use one color scheme for every notebook, index card, binder, sticky note, folder, etc. related to a specific subject. You can even follow the color scheme you’re using for your storage bins.

6. Keep the items you use most regularly in your prime real estate. This means the space between your shoulders and knees. If you have to reach up or move several items out of the way to access supplies all day long, that will take precious time out of your day and make maintaining your systems difficult and time consuming.

Tight on Space?

If you’re homeschooling in a small space, I recommend literally thinking out-of-the-box by bringing your walls and closets into action.

  • If you have ample wall space, hang bulletin or peg boards. They come in fun colors and provide space for notes, lesson plans, charts, schedules, or other visual teaching aids. Or use your wall space to create a message center. Use magnetic, cork, and dry-erase boards or clipboards to hold papers you need to quickly access, keep to-do lists in sight, and make the daily schedule easily visible to all.
  • Have ample hanging space in a nearby closet? Hang clear shoe storage bags in the closet and tuck supplies and materials in the individual pockets. Store cords and wires for your electronics or math manipulatives for games. The list and uses are endless!
  • Hang door-mounted racks on the inside of closets or cabinet doors to maximize storage space. This is a great technique for freeing up counter space and making your supplies as visible as possible.
  • You mentioned you would like to use other rooms in your home for projects and experiments. The empty area under your stairwell can be turned into a reading nook with cozy seating and bins for books, or a science “lab” housing a small table and slim shelving. Purchase a rolling cart with ample storage space to house items you’ll need.

A system is only as good as its maintenance. So if you use any of these systems, you’ll need to clean them out regularly to prevent them from becoming unwieldy.  A good rule of thumb is to empty them after a unit or project is completed.

Here’s to a successful and organized new school year!

How to Homeschool: Next Steps

ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

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