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How do I set up a homeschool classroom?

By January 19, 2021January 19th, 2022One Comment

Perhaps one of the most intimidating to-dos for the homeschooling newbie revolves around the “homeschool classroom.”

Maybe you’ve seen the picture-perfect rooms on Pinterest, tried a few arrangements … until the end result resembled a tornado that just blew through your house.

If you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by all the options out there, or even if you’re a homeschool veteran looking to improve her current classroom setup, we hope this collection of FAQs helps!

1. Where should I set up the classroom?

The answer varies by homeschool. Some children do best without a separate space – cozying up on the living room couch, for example, while their school supplies reside in a nearby bookcase or armoire.

For other homeschoolers, a dedicated space helps their children transition from “play mode” into “learning mode” much more easily. They also love having everything enclosed in one area.

Perhaps the biggest benefit, as one mom explained – “I can also close the door and not look at it in the evening. Big plus!” 😉

Some places for setting up dedicated spaces include:

  • Kitchen/dining area (although some moms say this makes it hard to clear up schoolwork quickly for meals)
  • A portion of the basement
  • Desks in the kids’ rooms if they need extra peace and quiet
  • Living room
  • Family office or den
  • Foyer

Other moms say their house is too small for a dedicated space, and they do different classes and subjects from a number of locations. For example, science experiments in the kitchen and bathroom, read-alouds outside on the porch (if weather permits), and math in the front yard!

2. Do I need child-sized desks, and if so, how big?

Again, the answer depends on your child. Generally the younger your child is – e.g. if they’re in preschool – the less they’ll need a desk. (See more of our thoughts on homeschooling preschoolers.)

If your children are in high school and working on more complicated subjects that take several days to complete, however, they’ll probably enjoy the benefits that come with a workspace. At that age, a regular desk will do fine.

You’d be amazed … or maybe not … at the number of homeschoolers who have a desk space reserved for their children, and it seldom (if ever) gets used.

3. How many shelves can one student have to store school supplies?

As many as they’ll need! One mom uses her walk-in closet near the garage to have a separate shelf for each child. Her children grab whatever’s needed from that shelf whenever it’s time for a subject.

Other moms use inexpensive file cabinets (or even china cabinets) for their children’s books and papers. Even the family room coffee table can be a good area for keeping everyday items.

4. How do you stay organized?

Don’t beat yourself up unnecessarily over this one! Sometimes, the less that your classroom looks like school, the better your children will function, says one homeschooler.

A few general organization strategies:

  • Binders. One mom keeps all her classroom papers in a three-ring binder per child, which then goes on a shelf in the living room with all the textbooks.
  • Cabinet tubs. School and craft supplies can go into a cabinet tub that can be moved from room to room, or stay in a dedicated space as needed.
  • Baskets. Like cabinet tubs, these containers are handy for the end-of-day dumps such as pencil boxes, crayons, markers, scissors, etc. Out of sight, out of mind!

We have updated this blog post, originally published in 2019, for timeliness and detail.

What have you found useful in your homeschool classroom?

Shanxi Omoniyi

Shanxi Omoniyi (@ShanxiO on Twitter) is MPE's online content director. A homeschool alumna, Shanxi graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in journalism and English. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and nonprofits share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.

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