This is the part of home education that is fun for me. I love decorating and re-decorating my house (just ask my husband)!
One of the most truly fun experiences I have with decorating my home is setting up our homeschool work space.
Don’t get stuck on the idea of needing an extra room for school. The truth is, you really don’t “need” to have a “school room”. In our home we haven’t always had only one room dedicated to school. Although years later we’ve managed to rearrange our home so that we do have one room which we dedicate to school, we actually use every room in our house, including our yard. So for us, school is everywhere.
Maintaining orderliness and keeping textbooks, materials, and curriculum together in one spot, is something absolutely crucial to the success of every homeschool. We need places to store and manage our homeschool materials.
For the Fall 2012 my set up looked something like this:
(I had a simple bookshelf to keep all of our books and kits together.)
I placed a work table near a window for sunlight…
Another idea for space: purchase some storage crates from Wal-Mart, Target, or a discount store, get as many as you need, and stack them together against a wall how you like. Tie them together securely with string and use this as a cheap “cubby storage” idea.
Here are some tips on setting up your homeschool workspace that might help:
- Place all important documents (legal paperwork, cover school/private school registrations, testing materials, and academic records) in one secure place. Having these important documents scattered all over the place willy nilly will not be good for your sanity or your kids’ when it is time to send in grades. A good spot for us in our family is one 3 ring binder notebook which I keep on my work desk in my office. Another idea is to keep these in a safe or in a filing cabinet.
- If you have extra room in your house to turn an entire room into your school room, this could save you from having to make adjustments in other parts of your house. Set it up wisely, making sure to take the ages of your children into consideration and how they actually “flow” throughout their school day. If you have younger children, a “one room devoted to school all day” approach may not be feasable. If you are determined to make it work that way, consider having “learning cubbies” (or learning centers, as most schools call them) set up, such as a reading nook, math center, science exploration center, or even a table or workdesks where you might expect a somewhat older child to complete math and grammar lessons. Watch the flow of your children throughout the day to see if your space is set up to fit their needs. If not, tweak and re-tweak until it does.
- If you don’t have extra room in your house for a devoted “classroom”, use each room or any room in your home for school. For a long time we simply used our kitchen table. When my infant quickly became a toddler it became difficult to continue working at the table, so we progressed to using different rooms in our home: the living room for math and grammar lessons (we could use the CD player for grammar jingles and set up the marker board for lessons while sprawled on the floor), the kitchen and front yard for science experiments, and my daughters’ bedroom for literature and history lessons.
- Make good use of bins, book shelves, and filing cabinets. In our home, we have tons of books and three bookshelves already being used. For years, building or purchasing an additional bookshelf was not on our agenda, so we simply used a tall, 4-drawer filing cabinet to hold many of our textbooks. The books were not too heavy for the filing cabinet to endure and it was easy to just pull out a drawer and select a book. (Of course, I wouldn’t recommend this for heavier books). Filing cabinets are also good for sorting and keeping up with your child’s paperwork and lessons. I also love to use bins and workboxes for curriculum catalogs and other paper based items that have to go somewhere. Here is a video on my schoolroom setup for 2012-2013.
- Find a good spot to hang posters. This is crucial if you have visual learners and you’re like me and love to buy educational posters and wall borders. A few years ago I couldn”t really do wall borders or anything especially teach-y, but I absolutely loved hanging up a poster on a topic we are studying. Now, I have more room to work and I’ve learned to hang my posters semi-permanently if I don’t wish for the walls in my home to look cluttered! Now, I simply put them up and take them down before and right after a lesson…or I use two-sided mounting tape.
- Consider some of the following items you might want in your “classroom”: science equipment (magnifiying glass, etc.), pens, pencils, paper, computer paper, notebooks, erasers, hole punch, stapler and extra staples, textbooks, art supplies (markers, paint, paintbrushes, etc.), music CD’s, educational DVD’s, books about homeschooling, reference materials, student desks and chairs, sofas or cushions/bean bags. This is only a short list of possible equipment needs, but it should give you a head start.
- Last, but not least, take inventory of your home spaces and visualize how you want your homeschool spaces to be in accordance with your children’s work flow throughout the day…then take that trip down to Office Depot (or Target!) and purchase the bins, bean bags and cushions, tables and chairs and other equipment you might need for your space, and have fun!