You may have seen our very first homeschool room. While it wasn’t perfect, it was a large and beautiful space, probably the only part of that house that I was sad to leave behind when we moved. You don’t have to have a homeschool room to homeschool, but I find that our family works much better with a dedicated learning space, so my list of homeschool room must-haves was ever-present in my mind during our house hunt. In this post, I share with you our must-haves and homeschool room setup.
Homeschool Room Setup Must-Haves
Must-Have: Dedicated Space
I didn’t want our learning space to do double-duty. That meant that the kitchen table (the idealized homeschool space for many families) was out. I have a couple of reasons for this choice.
The first reason I wanted a dedicated learning space is that using a space like the kitchen table to do most of our learning would create unnecessary complications in our days. We would have to clean up messes and interrupt projects for mealtimes. Supplies would end up all over the place, meaning time that should be spent focused on an activity would instead be spent hunting for pencils, scissors, what-have-you. And, wow, there are a whole lot of distractions in the heart of the home, and I think it would be unreasonable of me to expect my kids to stay on task with all those distractions.
The second reason I didn’t want a double-duty learning space is that I want my kids to get into the habit of getting into a learning/working frame of mind when sitting at a desk. This sort of habit training has helped me so much in my own life, whether it’s sitting in the same spot to do Bible study or sitting in front of my computer to lesson plan or write or whatever. The habit itself, and the habit’s association with a particular location, does half the work of getting me to do what I need to do. I would like my kids to have the same benefit of habit associated with location appropriate for the task.
I need to add that there was a time, after a move and during a minor renovation in our new home, that the only dedicated learning space we had was the kitchen table. I hated it! Distractions, supplies everywhere, constantly cleaning up…that’s not the life for me. It only confirmed my family’s need of a schoolroom. After renovations were done, the schoolroom was the first room in the house that I set up!
Must-Have: Location, Location, Location – Downstairs!
In our last home, our schoolroom was on the second floor. That schoolroom was a nice big beautiful space. With older kids it might have been ideal, but since I had very small children at the time, the schoolroom’s location on the second floor became a huge source of frustration for me. There were times that I wanted to get a meal started or put laundry in the dryer or even just answer a knock at the door, but I would either have to carry my toddler down with me and rush to get back upstairs, or we would all have to go down together (because Mommy running out-of-sight for even one minute often resulted in dangerous shenanigans).
After a couple of years of our days revolving around when we were going to be up in the schoolroom, I’d had enough. When we decided to move, a room on the main floor that could be dedicated to schoolwork was a must-have.
Must-Have: Let There Be Light!
I’ve found that daylight has a huge impact on our moods, especially mine. According to Healthline:
“Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. ” “What are the Benefits of Sunlight?” on Healthline
So I wanted a homeschool room that allowed the outside in rather than one that made us feel like we were in a cave. Both teaching and learning can be hard work. Homeschooling isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, no matter what we see on Instagram. So why not give us the added benefit of mood-lifting daylight?
Must-Have: Dedicated Workspace for Each Child
When we were considering homeschooling, I did some experimentation to try to figure out how we would homeschool. Part of that experimentation involved doing learning activities at the kitchen table. I found that a shared workspace overly complicated our learning time and greatly lowered the enjoyment of that time for everyone involved because there were arguments about encroachment of perceived personal workspace.
The obvious solution to the encroachment issue is to give each child his own desk, along with drawers for storage of their personal things. With three children, I needed a learning space that would provide room for three desks large enough for them to spread out their materials.
Must-Have: Adequate Storage with Room to Grow
The struggle is real when it comes to storing all the things needed for homeschooling, especially if you have younger kids that require a lot of manipulatives and hands-on activities. We can usually find nooks and crannies in our houses to put things, but I wanted the Learning Stuff close at hand to avoid complicating the day and wasting time by going and looking for the Learning Stuff.
The Homeschool Room
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.
Alrighty, now that I’ve shared my Homeschool Room Setup Must-Haves, I’d like to welcome you into our current homeschool space!
Our learning space is on the main floor, just like I wanted, and it’s a game changer for us. Our homeschool room has glass-paned French doors. We usually leave both doors open, and the large entrance makes it feel very connected to the rest of the house. But even with the doors closed, the glass panes still allow the schoolroom to feel very open.
Our schoolroom has large windows that bring the outside in. The windows face east, so we get a lot of morning light diffused by trees. To increase the feel of natural light, we also have daylight bulbs in the light fixtures, enabling the schoolroom to always feels light and bright.
IKEA Desk / Pennant Banner / Ashley Desk Chair (left) / IKEA Desk Chair (right)
I staunchly avoid dark colors and have chosen to use a lot of light neutral colors in our schoolrooms. I find that, visually, I’m sensitive to too many colors in a room – even if the colors and decor are beautiful, they just aren’t restful to my nerves, and I suspect that my kids may be the same way. So I like to use a lot of white to give our eyes (and minds!) plenty of opportunity to rest. But I do add pops of color to add some fun and delight into the room. I feel that the neutral background makes the color that we do use even more delightful.
Our homeschool room already had a wall of built-in shelves and cabinets when we moved into the house. It’s a 20-year-old house, so the built-ins were pretty beat up and I didn’t love them, especially since the upper shelves aren’t easily accessible to my short stature. We had most of the house painted when we moved in, including the built-ins. The fresh paint improved the look of the built-ins, but I didn’t think to be specific with the type of paint used so the painters used flat paint. That was a big mistake on my part since the paint scuffs up pretty badly. A magic eraser helps a lot, but I’m not gonna lie, it makes me a little angry every time I see the marks. So if you do paint surfaces that will serve as shelves or especially as work spaces, do better than me and be thoughtful and specific about the type of paint that you use.
I do love the drawers and cabinets. And I’ve become pretty strategic about how I use the shelves…but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Something else I love about our schoolroom is the wood-look tile floor. Our last schoolroom was carpeted, so I had to be very careful about messy activities. And when you have preschoolers and toddlers, there are a lot of messy activities. Even activities that shouldn’t be messy become messy!
But I don’t have to worry about messiness now! We’ve used paint in this room with no fear from me. I don’t get stressed about markers, even the huge dabbing markers, falling on the floor. A tile floor is less comfortable than carpet, and sometimes the loudness gets to me since there are so many hard surfaces for sound to bounce from, but the ease of cleaning makes up for all of that.
The size of this room, the wall of built-ins, and the large whiteboard we use does severely limit the amount of wall space, so I can’t hang many posters. But I’m ok with that because I found that we didn’t end up using most of the posters that I had up in our previous schoolroom.
We’ve used IKEA desks since we began homeschooling, and they have been a cost-effective option for us because my kids are pretty destructive. The desks are not my favorite because I have had some issues keeping the table tops still (I really need to get something to hold them together underneath), but they’re pretty easy to clean and have a lot of drawer space, so I’m sticking with them for now.
I originally had three of these desks put together. I wanted individual desks so that each kid could clearly see where his space ended and his brother’s space began (avoiding encroachment and arguing). So I chose the size table top that was twice as long as it is wide, allowing me the flexibility of putting the desks together to make one big table.
Putting the desks together as one big table worked great in a larger room, but it severely limited the walking-around space in this smaller room. And my boys are getting bigger by the second. So I moved my oldest to what was my teacher desk, allowing me to get rid of one of the IKEA desks and opening up the space. This had the added benefit of giving my oldest some personal wall space, so I’ve been experimenting with the use of a small magnetic whiteboard for him. After a few months, I decided to move my workspace into this room and currently have my younger boys’ desks up against the whiteboard, but I’m still not sure how long we’ll keep this setup.
The drawers in the drawer units are mostly personal storage space for my kids and are where they keep their crafty creations. The exception is the top drawer, which holds a drawer organizer for pencils, scissors, and such. I may eventually use them as my kids’ workboxes (more on workboxes further down). You can see this post on how I used these drawers as workboxes for my oldest last year.
I saved a little spot for me between my two younger kids so that I could work with them. The drawer unit at my spot holds teacher’s manuals and supplies.
Chairs are also a key part of a workspace. I’ve been through different chairs for my students to use. I started with IKEA’s junior desk chairs, but my kids tore those up in no time, and they were really difficult to clean. So I eventually replaced them with different inexpensive rolling chairs from IKEA that were basically a hard plastic shell. They were easier to clean, but after moving into this house the rolling feature became a problem because my kids tended to stand on the chairs to get to upper shelves. So I replaced those chairs (my oldest still uses my old teacher chair) with sturdier and safer student chairs. They’ve been great because they’re pretty comfortable, easy to clean, and we can safely stand on them.
Maybe the most important storage solution we have in the schoolroom is my kids’ workboxes. They are also a great way to teach responsibility. I have separate posts on how I used these craft drawers as workboxes (including videos) for a first grader and preschooler, so hop on over there to check those out.
Since I moved my oldest to the built-in desk this year, I needed to come up with a new workbox-like solution for him. I decided to use more binders since they stand on a shelf better than a regular notebook, along with IKEA magazine holders (similar) for smaller books and loose papers. The magazine holders are made of metal and very sturdy. I created cute labels out of repositionable sticker paper. I like this labeling solution because I can create custom labels and they remove cleanly.
These wall pockets from Ballard serve as Schoolwork Purgatory and hold completed work. I go through the completed work at the end of the school year to select items for our portfolio. It does get pretty messy looking, but at least I know where everything is.
These IKEA Kallax shelf units live on the wall next to the doors. It holds large bins (also from IKEA) where I store curriculum that we’re not currently using, as well as other supplies. The bins are great for bulky and light items, but not great for heavy items like books. I created the bin labels myself. I’ve made the labels available as a free gift to you. Just click this link, sign up for my newsletter, and they’re yours!
Kallax shelf units are popular for homeschool rooms, but I kind of wish it was a regular bookcase since this is a smaller room. As you can see, these shelves, which hold readers for my kindergartener and books that we’ll be using for history and science this year, leave a lot of wasted room.
So if you’re looking for a storage solution for your learning space, I recommend sticking to regular bookshelves if you’ll be using the shelves just for books, and getting a unit like this one if you want to use bins to organize and hide away random supplies.
Now let’s tackle the built-ins!
First, let’s peek into the drawers. (The drawer and cabinet labels are also printed on repositionable sticker paper.)
This drawer has writing supplies.
These drawers have miscellaneous school supplies.
This drawer contains our supplies for our wall calendar. I know it’s a mess. Don’t be jealous of my organizational skills! 😜 #reallife
Now let’s tackle all those shelves! The Learning Stuff we currently use on the regular is on the lower shelves.
Craft supplies are on the desk level since they get the most use and so that my kindergartener can get to them easily. He loves to create!
I have a printer/copier on the other side of my oldest boy’s workspace, along with a paper organizer. This printer is eligible for HP’s Instant Ink program (they automatically mail you ink when you’re running low), which I love because I hate having to run out and buy ink when we run out.
I have math games and activities on one shelf, and language games and activities sharing a shelf with manipulatives I gave my youngest to use during vision therapy.
An upper shelf holds some of our leveled books. I have to get on a chair to get to them, but I don’t want my kids getting into these particular books since we use them for school. I want to know where they are when I need them.
Portfolios and work from previous years are up at the tippy top. Our current year’s portfolio is on a lower shelf.
The highest shelves also hold overflow books that don’t fit in my Kallax bins, as well as special manipulatives that I’m saving to use with our history curriculum.
Learning Stuff that we’re not using constantly but that I want to be accessible is in the lower cabinets.
This cabinet holds some crafting and science supplies.
This cabinet holds cleaning products and an old shoe organizer that I’ve repurposed to provide shelf space for printing supplies.
The Teaching Aids
I’ve had a large magnetic whiteboard in our schoolroom since Day 1, and I love it! Besides using it to teach my students as a group, it has been great for:
- spelling words and dictation
- magnetic educational puzzles for a child that needs to stand and move
- displaying teaching aids and artwork
- playing with magnets
We’ve also had a calendar bulletin board from the start. Each year, one of my kids has the responsibility of updating the numbers on the calendar each day before doing his morning work. This year, my little kindergartener gets the job.
While we do have dedicated learning spaces, we actually school all over the house.
We’ve watched our IEW Student Writing Intensive, Math-U-See, and BJU Heritage Studies videos in the living room on the big TV while sitting cozily on the couch.
The kids do educational puzzles on the floor all over the house.
The kids migrate to the kitchen table or island for science or art projects, or simply when they want to be near Mommy.
We sometimes work on the front porch, at the table in our carport, at the picnic table in our backyard, or on the trampoline when we have a nice day.
My oldest will sometimes lay on a beanbag chair in the playroom or in the hammock in the backyard to do his reading.
It’s nice to have options! But no matter where we “do school” that day, the kids take their supplies back to their homes in our homeschool room so that we know where those things are the next day.
I feel like we’ve met and surpassed my objectives for a homeschool room in this house since we do have so many options, while still having a good central location. And that’s what I call Whole House Schooling!