What do you need for your homeschool room?
Before you can answer that question, you really need to ask: Do you need a dedicated homeschool room?
The best thing about homeschooling is that every family can do what works for them. We usually think curriculum when we talk about this, but it applies to every part of how we ‘do’ homeschool. And that includes where we homeschool.
Whether you have a designated homeschool room or do schoolwork at the kitchen table, there are 4 areas we all have to consider.
You’ve got to have the ‘stuff’. Every fall public schools send out school supply lists. Being a former classroom teacher, I can tell you that having materials on hand, ready to use, makes all the difference between learning happening and chaos erupting. Pencils, paper, calculator, ruler, markers, highlighters, etc…keep them all well stocked! One tip is to load up on school supplies when the back to school sales hit in August. And don’t forget about ink for your printer. It really stinks to hit the ‘print’ button and find out your cartridge is empty in the middle of a lesson.
Having all the stuff isn’t enough to make for smooth days filled with learning if you can’t find it when you need it. You don’t have to have a dedicated homeschool room to keep your materials organized. We don’t have an official ‘homeschool room’, never have. I tried creating one when we moved into the house we’re in now. But it was in the basement, and the boys preferred to work upstairs at the kitchen table or in their bedrooms. We also enjoyed (read: mom enjoyed) snuggling on the couch to read together. So, that room in the basement has become more of a game room. And while I have lots of bookshelves downstairs that are loaded with curriculum, references, and other supplies – – I also have a system upstairs that organizes what we’re using on a daily basis.
Here’s what works for us.
I found a four cube bookshelf on Craigslist (like this one) and assigned one cube to each boy for his school materials (books, notebooks, folders, binders, etc.). The other two are mom’s storage and are used for curriculum, activity supplies – like our disecting kit, when we did that unit – and materials I use for tutoring.
Now that my eldest is doing dual enrollment, he chooses to keep his school stuff in his bedroom so mom has 3 cubes.
The top of the shelves hold lots of loose leaf paper, pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils, index cards, three-hole punch, stapler, tape…you get the idea.
Here’s the takeaway for you: No matter how you set up your organization, have a place for everything you use.
If someone needs scotch tape…they should know where to look.
For awhile we used a file rack for the boys to turn in assignments. It worked while it worked, but then we didn’t need it anymore.
Be flexible. Try things. Stop doing things that don’t work.
Whether in a homeschool room, a bedroom desk, outside at the picnic table, or in the kitchen… kids need space to do their work. One of the great blessings of homeschooling is that work can be completed anywhere.
The very first day we started homeschooling we did a craft that I’m excited to share with you. Each of us made our own lapboard with a cushion, so we could work anywhere. (Super easy, by the way, and fun to customize…watch for it!)
In the early days, the boys mostly worked at the dining room table. Primarily because we did a lot of our work together. Since instituting the weekly planner system we now use, I think most work gets done in their bedrooms.
I have a friend who has a room designated for homeschool, and they have a large desk for each of their kids. They are able to use if for organization, and their materials as well as a workspace.
If homeschooling itself had a battle cry, it would be this: Do what works for your family!
When I was teaching second grade, I loved doing bulletin boards. They were a creative outlet for me. But more than that, they served a couple of important purposes, I think. Displaying work and sharing wisdom.
There’s something to be said about seeing your work hung up for everyone to see. It inspires you to do your best work, it builds confidence. When we started homeschooling, we hung a long row of cork boards where we displayed the boys’ work. Sliding glass doors also make a great display ‘wall’.
An aside – – A story comes to mind that is sort of the “anti” version of this kind of inspiration. A couple of years ago, when feeling frustrated – as I’m sure you never have – at my boys for not doing their best work, I threatened to post their work on Facebook. After waiting for me to finish my rant, my youngest quietly said, almost in a whisper, “Please don’t post our work on Facebook.” I didn’t post it, of course. Not my proudest mom moment…but they got my point: Others seeing your work can motivate you to do your best.
The other purpose that display areas serve is to be able to be reminded of truths, encouragements, or work helps at a glance. Motivating posters and charts of multiplication facts or “What Good Readers Do” covered my classroom walls and bulletin boards. Even when I taught GED classes to adults, I used the giant poster-sized Post-Its to hang poems around the room that we had read and analyzed. At home, it’s often Bible verses and words of encouragement.
I found these iron display racks at a yard sale. I think they’re for plates, maybe. We hung them in our dining room, where our study groups meet, and where our main organization ‘hub’ is. Over the years they have displayed a chart of U.S. Presidents, maps, Constitutional amendments, memory verses, and our Question-Quote-Meme or Morsel wall for Economics…among other things.
A special note about maps: I have found it so very useful to have maps up to reference. We almost always have at least a U.S. map and whatever area of the world we were studying up. I think I got our U.S. map at the dollar store and glued it to a piece of foam board to make it sturdier.
The Perfect Homeschool Room
I always dreamed of having the perfect homeschool room. My vision looked something like an ad from Ikea. The thing was, that just never worked with our house and our family. And guess what? That’s okay! I bought a set of matching baskets for sorting our materials and called it good.
Don’t fret over what you don’t have. Make what you’ve got work! Just be sure to cover all 4 bases and you’re set.
I’d love to know:
What materials can’t you live without?
What helps you stay organized?
What are your workspaces like?
How do you display things?