Many new homeschoolers wonder how best to set up their at-home learning space. The possibilities can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips as you envision and establish a practical spot in your home where homeschooling can be comfortable and productive.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Your homeschooling area doesn’t need to look like a classroom! You will need a work area with a flat surface, comfortable seating, good lighting, and space for storage. Ideally, it should be located near wherever the parent will be so that they can be available for questions when they are not directly involved in the student’s work.
FIND THE RIGHT WORK SURFACE
If possible, dedicate a table or large desk where work can be spread out, left undisturbed, and returned to as needed. If the work surface must meet more than one family need, consider using a table that is only used occasionally or for just one other purpose. With a shared surface, make it a priority to always keep it clean and uncluttered, and develop a family habit to clean up thoroughly between uses.
SET UP YOUR SUPPLIES & MATERIALS NEARBY
Some families create a school space by dedicating a room in their home that is just for school time, while others use the kitchen table. Make sure to have all your supplies handy, and have your children keep things organised.
Locate shelves and organizational units so that materials can be kept easily at hand. You’ll want some combination of shelves, drawers, and other storage options to keep supplies organised. You will also need a place to store your Euka curriculum activity sheets, reference books, and library books. An inbox and outbox or a set of dividers can be helpful for sorting work in progress. Activity sheet folders, desk supplies, art supplies, science tools, math manipulatives, and other materials also need storage space.
ELIMINATE CLUTTER & DISTRACTION
Eliminating visual clutter from the child’s school space and play space can be quite calming. Rotating items for play eliminates having everything out at once and frees up space for creative uses. Some toys might be put away for many seasons and only brought out for a few weeks before they are put away again. Toys that are used year-round (like Lego and dress-ups) can be neatly stowed each afternoon. Even very young children can get into the habit of helping to “put the toys to bed” when play is over for the day.
Place a rubbish container and a recycling bin near the workspace to simplify cleanup. A washable plastic tablecloth can be helpful in quickly transforming an academic workspace into an arts-and-crafts space and back again. If budget allows, a prep sink can be a helpful addition for messy experiments and art cleanup.
Keep your homeschooling workspace as free of clutter as possible. If clutter is unavoidable, find ways to trick the eye by hiding it in baskets, wooden crates, or cabinets, behind doors or curtains, or beyond a folding screen. A fabric “skirt” around a side table can hide many things while storing them nearby until they are needed.
Aesthetics are also very important to consider when preparing your homeschooling space.
Create a visible homemade art gallery to display current academic work and artistic creations. You might use a large bulletin board or a series of cork wall tiles to define your gallery, or simply choose a wall to decorate and let it declare itself!
Don’t forget to consider the spaces that are available outdoors! Perhaps there is a veranda, gazebo, patio, or garden table that could be used in warm weather. Some of the same principles apply to outdoor learning spaces: comfortable furniture, shelter from the bright sun, and a flat space to work on. A large, flat board can be used as a workspace on grass or inside a tent. A hammock can be the perfect cozy spot for reading and studying. A large basket can be used to store materials and carry them to/from the house. Older homeschoolers might expand their horizons and study at the park, the library, or a local cafe.
CONSULT YOUR children
As you consider how to set up your homeschooling space, ask the child who will be using it what they would find most helpful. Be flexible and allow your learning setup to evolve as you discover what works best. Reassess your space periodically, and make changes and improvements with the input of those who use it most.
Above all, don’t worry if you don’t have the perfect space! Let your heart, creativity, and experience guide you. Homeschooling, like life, is a work in progress.