Thursday, September 1, 2011

New School Year, New Organization

I am excited to tell you that I finally ENJOY schooling at the dining table.  What relief a new table and a single cabinet can bring!

When we first began homeschooling we tried schooling downstairs, but it was a little dark (I love lots of light), so we moved everything upstairs to the spare bedroom.  Well then came baby #4 and there went the "spare" room.  Wha-La!  Schooling at the dining table.  Blech.  The struggle of getting school out and then putting it away for meals, keeping the school curriculum area neat and decluttered, and then having to LOOK at all the school materials constantly even during meals...   Since we live in a front to back split you can see the school area when you first open the door.  Not my cup of tea at all.

Our kitchen is fairly small considering that I am a full time cook for 6 who preps mostly from scratch.  Already we store many things on a shelf in the garage because there is not enough cabinet space.  And now we are adding school supplies off the kitchen/dining area?  Yeah - this could be sketchy.  This is what I ended up with, and this picture was before we placed the iMac on the table.

There were another 3 of those storage carts on the other side of the dining area full of craft supplies.  Now it looks ok in the picture above, but this method of organization was impossible to keep clean.  It was too difficult to return items to their proper homes and too easy to just pile everything on the table surface.  Fact: If it's not easy to clean, then it won't be clean.  This is what it looked like most days.   Notice how small I posted that pic?  Mwuah ha ha!  It's enough to make you want to run away from school.

I tried rearranging this set up and removed the school table and computer to another room and just lined ALL those storage carts against the railing.  And still I ended up with constant clutter collecting on the tops of those carts.  Oh and as a side point?  Our dining table had a sticky surface where the top layer of varnish had never fully cured.  Nice eh?  Homework papers and crafts became permanently stuck to the table.  For life.  All alround, this was a sticky situation for learning.

After careful consideration of exactly what our storage needs were, my need for closed storage, much prayer, and then hours shopping at furniture stores (mostly used) and craigslist, I found this treasure.  Oh how I'm thankful for thee solid oak cabinet lined in cedar.  It is just exactly the storage I needed - an answered prayer, for sure.  AND!!!  The doors close completely so you don't have to look at all the school stuff during meals or when we are entertaining!

But the table...  When the Lord blesses, He really blesses.  We now have a table that seats 6 (extends to seat 8-10 with a leaf) with matching chairs.  No more school work permanently glued to the table!!!  Having a proper table and storage has completely transformed school this year, partly because it has transformed how I feel about school and partly because everything is so easy to retrieve for use and store when finished.  I love how there is room for everything and we aren't spread out all over the house.

Our curriculum materials fully organized.

And this is what a normal day looks like after school when the cabinet 'messed up'.  What a big difference from before!
See this post to find out about my curriculum binders.   I used these to organize MFW Kindergarten and Adventure and I still love them.

All closed up, book baskets loaded, and ready for school tomorrow.

And this is where the magic happens.

As for my time, I'm still organizing my time using the Motivated Mom's Calendars.  It's a simple schedule, and it works for me.  I even have it all clipped to the same yellow folder. 

Thanks for looking and happy schooling in 2011-2012!

This post is linked up with Homemakers Challenge blog hop.  Check it out!


  1. Michelle,

    This is beautifully done! We too school at the kitchen table and last year I neglected many meals at the table because it was a mess from the school day. I have been feverishly organizing for the past few weeks and I think we have a plan that will work great for this year. There is just something so important for a homeschooling mom to have her surroundings working for her instead of against her.

    Blessings to you and your family as you start this new school year together.


  2. Thank you Amy! I hope you have a wonderful school year, too!

  3. Hi, found your blog from MFW forum. What a beautiful space...I love how brightly lit it is - it looks so cheerful! Your cabinet is great - I'm watching for something like that to go on a super sale somewhere!!!