There are many ways to set up a homeschool classroom, and deciding what works best for everyone can be a huge learning experience – for the parents, teachers, and students.
Optimal classroom setups can vary from family to family and student to student, so creating the perfect space for learning is more of an art than science.
You need a practical space where learning will be both comfortable and productive. And with all the possibilities available, you may be having a hard time deciding where to even start.
That’s why we’ve gathered nine practical tips for setting up a homeschool space, based on personal experience and what other homeschoolers find works for them.
1. Be Flexible
You will need comfortable chairs, a large, flat surface, good lighting, and a classroom bookshelf for storage – but it’s worth keeping in mind that your homeschooling space doesn’t have to look just like a conventional classroom, so keep an open mind.
Choose an area that works for you and your students. Ideally, that should be somewhere close to where the parent or home teacher will be spending most of his or her time – this will ensure that they will be available when questions arise, even if they are not directly involved in the child’s work.
2. Find a Suitable Work Surface
Dedicate a large desk or table where schoolwork can be left undisturbed – preferably one that is not utilized for any other purpose by other family members.
If the table needs to be shared, prioritize keeping it clean and tidy and encourage the student to pack everything away after each use.
3. Make it Comfortable
Choose chairs that are comfortable to sit in for long periods of time – this will keep unnecessary fidgeting to a minimum.
Ensure that you have a good amount of space and enough seating for everyone, as well as a few extras for other people who may collaborate with them, such as homeschool tutors and guests.
4. Make Materials and Supplies Organized
Some families find it helpful to dedicate an entire room to school time, and others use whichever surface is available – like the kitchen table. You can also set up a large chalkboard or whiteboard for lessons.
Always make sure that all your supplies are easily accessible and that your students keep their things organized. Set up all shelves, cubbies, drawers, and other storage options nearby so that any materials you need will be on hand, and that all supplies will be kept organized.
You’ll also need somewhere to store your lesson plans, curriculum, and reference books, and an inbox/outbox or workbox system can work well for sorting work in progress. Learning materials like art supplies, stationery, and science and math tools will also need to be stored somewhere.
5. Minimize Clutter
Visual clutter can be extremely distracting for children, so eliminate any clutter to make sure that your students stay focused. Avoid having everything out at once and use a rotation system – this will free up space and keep distractions to a minimum.
Materials and learning aids that are used daily can be put away at the end of each day by the students – this will help instill healthy habits like cleaning and tidying up after themselves.
Noise distractions are also highly disruptive for children, so keep background noise like music and television to a minimum.
6. Create an Aesthetically-Pleasing Environment
When you are preparing your dedicated homeschooling space, aesthetics are as important as your materials. If you can repaint the walls, opt for a calming, muted color like pale green or light blue. It may also be useful to paint one section of the wall with chalkboard paint.
You can also create a gallery to display artwork and other academic achievements of your students. You can hang a bulletin board or use cork wall tiles for display purposes, however, try to choose a wall that’s not in direct view of the learning space because it can cause distractions.
7. Make it Easy to Clean
To simplify the cleanup process, place a recycling bin or trash container near the designated workspace. You can also try using washable plastic tablecloths, which are a great way to instantly transform an academic workspace into a space for arts and crafts. Having a prep sink nearby will also help make the cleanup for messy projects simple.
As discussed, it’s best to keep the workspace clutter-free, but if clutter is unavoidable, there are a few space-effective ways to hide it. You can store clutter in baskets, crates, boxes, behind doors, or behind a folding screen. Using a tablecloth with a long hem is useful to conceal things stowed away under tables.
8. Use Your Outdoor Space
While you may be preoccupied with what space you have indoors for homeschooling, don’t forget that you can use your outdoor space, too. If you have a gazebo, porch, garden table, or patio, you can utilize these extra spaces when it’s warm enough to work outdoors.
Bear in mind that the same principles for indoor homeschooling areas apply to outdoor areas as well, though. You’ll need a flat workspace and comfortable chairs for your students, but an outdoor hammock can be ideal for reading, relaxing, or studying.
If your students are old enough to go to the library or park, encourage them to use these public spaces for studying, too.
9. Get Feedback
While you set up your homeschool space, don’t forget to ask your students for feedback – after all, they will be the ones using it. Ask them what they might find helpful, and be flexible enough with your space to allow it to adapt and evolve to better suit everyone’s needs.
Continue to assess your homeschooling space so that you can make improvements based on your student’s input, and above all, don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect. There is no “one size fits all” approach to homeschooling, so don’t be afraid to find out what works and let your creativity inspire you.