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get organized and quit wasting time looking for lost stuff

Get Organized and Quit Wasting Time Looking for Lost Stuff

by Dr. Kathryn Knight


How Can We Have A Successful School at Home?

I have a friend who has 11 eleven kids, and every kid ALWAYS knows where their shoes are. That amazes me. Organization for kids who are having school at home – whether you are homeschooling or using virtual learning – is key to a successful school day. Some tips we’ve learned over the years have lessened the “I can’t find my book/pencil/paper” problems that waste time and cause frustration. When you get organized and quit wasting time looking for lost stuff, you can get on with your day and avoid lots of frustration.

Here are 6 things you can do to get organized and quit wasting time looking for lost stuff:

Color Code Current Books.

  • Our house is full of books. We love books. But too often, someone mislays a book that we need for school. Each year we study a particular historical era, so I code each book for that era with a small piece of colored tape (duct tape has fun colors). This helps us easily identify the books associated with our current studies and shelve them quickly.


Organize Other Books.

  • In addition to the books for the current year’s study, we have shelves where books are sorted (based loosely on the Dewey Decimal system). Reference, biographies, animals, YA fiction, Bible studies, etc. are categories in our library/music room. Shelving mixed-up books take a while but can be a fun project. Pull every book off the shelf and dust the shelf. Then sort books on the floor to see how much room each category needs. Have your kids help you decide on what categories your books should be arranged. Be sure to make a lower shelf just for toddler books if you have little ones still at home. Remember to shelve books often to keep up. 


Individual Organization.

  • Each kid is different, and each needs to figure out his or her own system for organizing as they mature, but you can start early to teach them to put their notebook, reader, pencil box, and other personal school things into a box. An inexpensive milk crate from Walmart is excellent for storing books and supplies. Ikea also has storage boxes that are perfect for books. As kids get older, they need to keep their papers in order, especially class notes or research papers that have multiple iterations that may need to be reviewed.


Require personal responsibility.

  • One of my kids lost her math book (not the first book to be lost). We searched for a week and could not find it. It was an expensive textbook and I told her she would have to replace it with her own money. She found a used copy on ThriftBooks (she was in high school at the time). It was a good lesson on keeping up with books – although she did not face much of a pecuniary fine. She learned to get organized and quit wasting time looking for lost stuff.


Clean up as you go.

  • Start each day with a clean work area and as kids finish a subject or project, they need to clean it up. Shelve books. Put away art supplies. Sweep the floor. We call this a ten-second tidy (so-called after we saw a kid’s program where we learned this term). Keep up with messes during the day and you can be done with school when you’re done with school. No long or difficult clean-up time as you prepare dinner! 


Assign zones.

  • Or call them areas or territories or whatever helps you remember each person’s duties. Ownership inspires people to take care of things. Assign each kid a zone that they need to police daily. One kid might have the hallway, one the stairs or the foyer, etc. Check each day that they are keeping that area neat and tidy. If they fall behind, help them, but do not clean for them. 


Being home together is, for many Americans, a once-in-a-lifetime event. Enjoy it. But don’t let disorganization or lost books waste your time. The old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place” is very true for a successful school at home. You can get organized and don’t waste another minute looking for a math book or that one lost shoe!

Dr. Kathryn Knight is a 20+ year homeschool veteran who has graduated with three of her five children.

Kathryn loves to find creative ways to make learning hands-on so brain synapses connect and her kids enjoy school and remember what they’ve learned.

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For even more help on the organization in your homeschool classroom, check out our previous blog and try to incorporate these tips as well!


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