How to Clean Your Homeschool Room and Reset It for a New Start
Nothing is worse than coming into the beginning of something only to find that you need to stop and clean up from what happened earlier. Waiting until fall could feasibly delay your school year launch and inevitably start everything off behind. Likewise, stepping into a brand new school year with a clean space that has been gutted and restocked, jumpstarts everyone toward success. While these ideas are not all inclusive, they are helpful! Many come from working to avoid a delay I experienced in my early years on this journey of educating my children.
The ideas in this blog show you how to close your school room and leave it ready for school in the fall.
- Involve your children.
- Start in April
- Confirm all academic classes needed for fall.
- Purchase used or new books and materials
- Go through all of this year’s books and papers.
- Gather up all supplies.
- Clean. Re-shelve. Sharpen. Wipe all surfaces. Make list of needed items.
- Sort out purposeful reading for this summer.
- Touch everything in your school room. Ask what you love. What can you throw away or donate?
- Arrange room for summer activities.
Let’s flesh out these ideas.
1. Involve your children.
One of the best things a mom can do when coming to the end of any school year is to include her children in the process of cleaning. Whether in the spring or sometime in the summer, gather your students (i.e.kids) and work together on some of the uncluttering and cleaning up. Look through the following ideas to see where they can help. Each child can contribute based on their age and abilities. Older children pitch in by going through the notebooks from the year and tossing out uninportant papers. One of the children might be able to sort and clean supplies. Look for ways they can play a part. This saves you time and provides ownership for them.
2. Start in April.
Early in the spring moms are thinking through the classes needed for the upcoming fall. If accessing a tutorial, sign-ups for classes occur in the spring, begin working through the school materials in the fall. Put away, donate or sell all that you will not need again.
As students are working on a regular school day, begin working your way through your space. Perhaps pull several boxes out for donations, trash and selling. Ask yourself if the school books or items you are sorting are truly going to be used. Last year I pulled about eight boxes out of my school room. Ask hard questions. Go through your games and supplies as well. Share with younger homeschool moms when appropriate. Hand-me-downs can save money and bless the giver too.
3. Confirm all academic classes needed for fall.
Each of your students must meet required classes. Sort these out in early spring so that you will know what tutorial classes you need. Also decide on what classes your student will work on at home. Make a thorough list of all books and supplies needed. Starting with a detailed need list will help you search for used books and ones you might be able to borrow.
Some of the best classes fill up quickly. When being intentional about a particular class or tutor, contact them early to request a hold a spot for your student. When sorting out the classes that each of your children need for the next semester, sometimes you run into questions. I certainly do. Sometimes the questions involve which class to select? Or which class to do next? Or which curriculum to use? Or which style to mimic? Or what not to do? Starting early provides time to ask around or network for just the best answer.
4. Purchase used or new books and materials
Once your list of needs is complete, the shopping begins. Determine which books need to be new, borrowed or purchased used. For example, this year our Chemistry books are going to be newly published. So, we will order them new. Amazon Prime and our local used book sale are my other first places for required books.
Shopping for books and supplies early allows me to create stacks for each child for the upcoming year. Once completed, double check for any missing needs. Sometimes the hunt takes longer than anticipated. Be sure to take time to list your used items for sale. Often I have money in my pocket once I have sold all of my books and bargain shopped for the fall.
5. Go through all of this year’s books and papers.
This is really the hardest part of cleaning up from a year of school. Due to my sentimental personality, I feel pained to part with handwritten papers. Organizing a student’s completed school work is such a detailed effort that it likely warrants a whole blog. While discussing this dilemma with a friend recently, we concluded that identifying the right questions for each season of a student’s growth helps tremendously.
When a student is younger, art and handwriting crowd their notebooks and desks. As they advance, students at my house write weekly papers. These are some of my treasures. Projects, speeches and debate cases fill up space in the older years. Limit your student’s saved work to their favorite and your best-liked work. Remind yourself that you cannot save everything.
Although this is a critical step for cleaning up from the school year, I would gather up the notebooks and papers and sort them by student. Complete all other cleaning before beginning this arduous task. It takes time and emotion.
6. Gather up all supplies.
Hunting down all of the calculators, pencils, Expo markers, loose paper and other various stock items would be a fabulous job for an eager younger child. We empty all of our backpacks, hunt through vehicles, the kitchen pencil drawer, all pen holders and anywhere we might imagine they might be hiding. All pens are tested. Dried or resistant ones are thrown out. Calculators are tested for batteries. All covers and parts for the high school calculators are shelved in the math area. (I don’t want to hunt these down later when we need them urgently.) Pencils are sharpened or tossed. In general, all is assessed for usefulness in the future and placed in the supply area of our school room ready to grab in the fall as we prepare for a new school year.
7. Clean. Re-shelve. Sharpen.
Wipe all surfaces. Make list of needed items.
Let’s be honest, cleaning the school room seems to be such a time-consuming job. Taking purposeful time to go through materials, books, supplies, used notebooks and all random things will be worth the struggle. Take time to dust, windex and vacuum. In the very least relocate the children’s desks. Pull out all of the pencil boxes. Throw out notebooks and items that are just worn out. Re-sharpen pencils. Wipe all surfaces well. It’s surprising how much dirt accumulates in a school room in a few short months.
When all things have been accessed, compile a specific list of items that need to be replaced. List items that are missing. Itemize supplies that could be purchased in the back-to-school sales. Taking inventory as you clean through your school room will ensure clarity as you shop for the new school year and look for used items.
Once you close down the school room for the summer, its time to create a checklist for items needed for the fall. Since we have a range of ages doing school, I start with the oldest first. Those are classes we have not done, so the list of needed books is usually longer. Each child after that often uses some hand-me-down materials. Once a textbook is purchased, each student following can use it. This works great unless a new edition becomes necessary. Purchasing new textbooks in high school can be very expensive since many of them range $50-$100 new. Buying used should always be a consideration to keep costs low.
8. Sort out purposeful reading for this summer.
As the cleaning is happening, be sure to think of summer as a great reading time. Set aside a basket or box for each student. Ask them to pull books they would like to read over the summer. Add books that you did not complete during the school year. Add books that cover a part of history that you haven’t read. Add books from their suggestions.
Once you have the box or basket of selected book, think through your schedule. Set aside time to read. Plan reading intentionally.
9. Touch everything in your school room.
Ask what do you love? What can you throw away or donate?
While this seems impossible, you can do it. Touch EVERYTHING in your room. Ask yourself important questions. Ask when did you last use this item? Ask when do you imagine using these books? Have your students outgrown this resource? It might be time to share these items with a mom who has younger children. Has this curriculum been updated? Will you need to buy the updated version? Or use the older one? Look at your entire inventory of school materials. Think how you could simplify or minimize.
In the same way you would sort through other areas of your home, work to donate, trash and resale. Ask yourself if you love the item. Are you holding onto it just because you think you might use it in the future? Ask hard questions. Only keep what is practical!!
10. Arrange room for summer activities.
Why leave your school space inactive for the whole summer? Put away all school if your furniture is collapsible. Our school room stores a full-sized folding ping-pong table. This table is up a good bit of the time anyway. Extra floor space lends itself to train building for young ones. Nothing is more fun than more room to play. School room clean up clears way for more indoor fun on super hot summer days.
So when you prepare to clean through your school room and set up for the fall, consider some of these tips. Add some of your best ideas. Grab the kids and start early. Plan classes for the next season. Touch everything and clean out. Classify and re-group your books and supplies. Clean, sharpen and throw away. Be purposeful. Keep only what you deem worth retaining. Leave the room ready for summer fun.
Create a clean, easy-to-love homeschool room that will welcome you back to a fresh new start in the fall.