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As soon as warm days return I fling open my windows and start spring cleaning every nook and cranny in my home. Windows are washed, the tops of my kitchen cabinets are dusted, and every wall is wiped down. I also take the time to spring clean my homeschool.
My goal with spring cleaning is to clean and organize my home. It is an annual chance to clear out the clutter.
It is no different with my homeschool. I spend quite a bit of my day focusing on lesson planning, teaching, and overseeing hands-on projects. By springtime everything can use a little extra organization. Spring cleaning my homeschool gives me a chance to get all of my materials back in order.
We do not have a dedicated homeschool room. Instead, I store our materials in my office and we do schoolwork in the dining room, kitchen, and living room.
Tips to Spring Clean Your Homeschool
Homeschooling seems to involve quite a bit of paperwork. There are lesson plan ideas, printables to use in the future, and completed worksheets.
The first step is to decide what you need or want to keep and recycle the rest. At a minimum – keep anything that is required by your state. In NC I have to maintain attendance records. It always feels a little silly keeping HOMEschool attendance records, but legal compliance is important. It is easier to just keep the required paperwork as we go than to panic if our homeschool records are requested for review.
Next sort the paperwork. Everyone’s needs might be a little different, but I keep completed work samples and themed papers for future lessons. I organize completed work and future work separately. The completed work samples are sorted chronologically by student. Future work papers are organized according to theme. This insures that I can find what I want, when I want it.
Does anyone else end up with multiple bookshelves full of various homeschool curricula? I have one bookshelf that contains the material we are using this year. Another bookshelf contains curriculum that we have used in the past and other books that we plan to use in the future.
It all adds up to a lot of curricula!
An important step in spring cleaning your homeschool is to take a good long hard look at all of the curricula and decide what you really want to keep.
In my opinion, there are only a few reasons to keep curriculum:
- Currently being used
- Will be used in the future
- Is a reference resource
Organize the curriculum that you are keeping based on a strategy that makes sense to you. I sort the books by subject and then grade level. So all language arts books are together in grade level groups, all history books are together in grade level groups, all science books are together in age level groups, etc.
Now that you know what you are keeping, you can make a plan to get rid of the curricula that no longer fits your family. There is definitely a market for gently used homeschool curriculum, so selling might be a great option. If you don’t want the hassle of pricing and selling used books, donating to a friend is always appreciated.
There seems to be a running joke that homeschool moms collect books. There might be some truth to that! I pick up picture books, novels, and poetry books any time I spot a deal. Books are even my favorite vacation souvenir!
Everyone has to decide for themselves when to let a book go. It can be a surprisingly emotional decision.
When we moved cross country last year I had a hard time deciding which books were going to make the move too. I read to my children all the time when they were small (and still do), so there were a lot of memories wrapped up in the familiar titles. In the end I chose to keep our absolute favorite picture books and let the rest move on to other families.
Regardless of the number of books you own, you need a system to organize everything. There is no use owning a book if you can’t find that title when you need it.
I have our books sorted into three groups:
- Chapter books and novels
- Picture books
- Stories that correlate with an academic subject
The chapter books and novels are sorted in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.
Picture books are grouped in topics in a way that just naturally makes sense. Books with common themes – winter, Thanksgiving, spring, etc. are together. Books that are part of a series or have the same author are grouped together too.
My final shelf is books that are educational. My collection of The Magic Schoolbus science books, Sir Cumference math stories, and poetry compilations all live together on this shelf – sorted by subject of course.
Inspect Art Supplies
I’m not sure why, but my children often put empty bottles of glue, dried out paint tubes, and empty tape rolls back in their baskets. During homechool spring cleaning take a few minutes to inspect your art supplies.
- Toss out empty packaging
- Make a shopping list of art supplies that need to be replaced
- Organize remaining art supplies
Our art supplies are organized on a shelf rack in the office closet. Paint supplies, including blank canvases, are stored together. Glitter bottles are kept in an old ice cream gallon bucket. Sharpies are bundled together with a rubber band. Keeping similar supplies together makes it easier to find exactly what you need to complete your art project.
Organize Random Educational Toys
Over our eight years of homeschooling we have ended up with a lot of random educational toys. Things like geoboards, alphabet stamps, various varieties of flash cards, Toobs, rock identification kits, and so on. Every year when I spring clean my homeschool area I consider what is still used and what never leaves the storage bin. Kids just keep growing up so there is no point in keeping toys that are not enjoyed any more.
After clearing out the toys that no longer benefit my kids, I organize all of the remaining items. Most of the materials fit neatly in an under the bed storage container (although I store it on a shelf in my office closet – not under a bed). I group things according to academic subject.
These educational toys and materials are used in our boredom busting baskets. It is easier to rotate the toys when everything is well organized.
Taking a little time to spring clean your homeschool can help keep you organized for the rest of the school year. Staying organized saves you time and money.
Some years I dedicate an entire day to tackling all areas of homeschool spring cleaning. This year I am planning to complete one area each day. Breaking the big task into smaller pieces can be really helpful when time is in short supply.
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