As a Speech Language Pathologist, many of us do therapy through play. While research has shown that this is incredibly beneficial for children’s learning, it poses a very critical problem. The problem that is poses is WHERE TO STORE ALL OF IT!!!
Whether its laminated books, board games, wooden puzzles, pretend play sets, light up toys, reinforcing toys, or sensory bins, all of these things take up a lot of space. The other part of being an SLP is the paperwork and while no one enjoys it, this also takes up a lot of space.
Often when I am stressed and feel like things are out of my control, I organize my office. Over the past 3 years, my office has gone from a desk and a book shelf in a corner of our basement, to a spare room turned office (thanks mom!) with that same desk, the same book shelf, but also 2 cabinets, 3 rolling carts, 2 storage shelves, a wire bin system, a toy organizer, and a closet.
Part of the fun of organizing is that there are so many different ways to organize. As an SLP you can organize by:
- Goal target
- Type of material
- Size of material
- Age of material
Personally, I have found that a combination of goal target and type of material work best for me at this point.
In my office, I use the toy organizer to sort my paper based resources that my awesome mom laminates and cuts out for me. These paper based resources are primarily sorted by goal target (e.g., pronouns, following directions, WH questions, language processing). I also had a few spare bins so I ended up having a few bins based on type of material (e.g., interactive book, Word of the Week book, Visual supports). Many of these resources could have been sorted by theme, or due to versatility could have been sorted in different goal areas but I have found that goal area works best for me and I put them in the bin of the intended goal. For multi piece sets, I have divided the sets into smaller plastic bags and labelled the bag with content (e.g., bag A: toys, instruments, furniture, dessert, bag b: insects, water animals, pets, shapes), then I put all of the smaller bags into a bigger bag.
Not surprisingly, I use my bookshelf for books and binders. On the side of my bookshelf I have a hanging file organizer on which I have the paperwork that I need for each day.
I use my wire bin system to sort my toys. I have these sorted by type of toy (e.g., reinforcer, felt toys, wooden toys, magnetic toys, etc). Most of the multipiece toys are stored in ziploc bags or see through cloth bags which allow me to see what each bag is. For multi piece sets, I have on occasion written the total item number on the bag so that I can be sure that I have packed up all of the pieces each time I play.
As for my two metal cabinets one is used for storing paperwork and locked client information. The other is for storing my Cricut machine and all the materials. I like these cabinets because they can be locked with a padlock.
For my two shelving units, I use one for storing board games, bins, and storage boxes. My bins are sorted again into type of toys (e.g., marble set, assorted block toys, games without boxes, extra toys). My second shelf is where I have my heat press which is mostly unrelated but I have made SLP shirts before!
Two of my rolling carts have assorted office supplies in them, and the third cart houses my laminator, laminating sheets, paper cutter, scissors, and bins sorting what needs to be cut and what needs to be labelled.
Finally, in my closet I have a wire organizer. In the organizer I have cause and effect toys, bigger boxless toys, and assorted bins and containers for sensory bins or sorting activities.
The last component that I have used for my office is my Cricut Explore Air 2. This is a cutting machine with which I made the labels for my toy organizer bins using removable vinyl and the paper labels for my wire bin system. Handmade labels could also work just as well!
Overall, I feel like organizing my office is something that is never finished. I am always running into situations where I will buy a new toy and start to rethink how I should organize my current toys. My advice to you would be to think about the materials you have and which means of grouping works best for you (e.g., theme, type, use).
The other piece I wanted to share is that I have found that by giving everything a “place”, it has made putting materials back after use easier which has allowed me to maintain my office organization.
I hope that a peek inside my office organization helps to provide some ideas for organizing your own resources!