When it comes to homeschooling, sometimes, the kitchen table just doesn’t cut it. Creating a work space specifically for your children to “do school” helps set boundaries and expectations. The area should be fun and functional, but it doesn’t have to be huge. Your kids need to know that when they sit down at that chair, they’re in their own work space and can concentrate and get their assignments done. This is especially important as they get older and become more independent. So, if possible, keep the kitchen table clear for meals and arrange a spot that will allow your child to fully embrace their school work. Here are few ideas to help make that happen.
How to Create a Fun and Functional Homeschool Work Space
Choose the right spot
Pick a location in the house that is free of distractions. A desk next to a window overlooking the street, for example, may not be the best choice. Keep noise, such as a TV blaring in the background, to a minimum. Also, if your children are young, make sure the work space is close enough that you can still keep an eye on them. For us, the spot was a small room off of our kitchen. It’s exceptionally narrow, so we’re looking into relocating the work space to the basement for next school year.
Find a surface that works
The kitchen table may not always be the ideal work environment for children, but that doesn’t mean another table won’t work. Look for something that’s the right height for your kids. Involve them in the process by asking what colors they’d prefer for the desk or table. The surface should offer plenty of space. You’ll also need to find a suitable chair that’s comfortable and the right height for your child. We got table tops and legs from IKEA (our go-to place for furnishings that can withstand a beating) and they’ve worked out well. I actually use a 4-person dining room table for my desk, because the kids often pull up chairs and go over lessons with me there. The extra space is wonderful!
This is the fun part! Make a list of all the essentials first: pens, pencils, paper and other stationary. Then take your little ones with you to the store to stock up. Depending on your budget, allow them some freedom in selecting what colored pens, fancy paper and other neat supplies they get to add to their work space. This will help them gain a sense of ownership over the supplies and the area…which will make them more likely to use them without a fuss. The best time to stock up is during the summer back to school sales. Glue sticks for a penny?! Yes, please!
Provide organizational tools
Place bins and baskets for paper and writing utensils at each work station and encourage your children to use them. Also, set up a whiteboard to keep track of the projects they’re working on or your family’s weekly schedule. A small, sturdy bookshelf is also very handy. I give each child their own organizing spot on their desk, but we keep the overflow in buckets and baskets that hang from a pegboard in our school area. I found the pegboard at a home improvement store and the metal buckets were at the craft store.
Light is essential
A dimly lit room can deter even the most motivated artist or student. If there’s little natural light available near the work station, provide a desk lamp to illuminate the area. Many lamps are designed with children in mind and feature shades in fun shapes like airplanes and balloons. I can’t stress enough how important light is. If it’s a dim, dark area, no one will want to be in the space. Soft, natural light (even if you have to fake it) is essential to a successful space.
Make cleanup easier
Children are more likely to clean up after themselves if it’s easy to do. Have bins and containers open for them so they can toss in leftover craft items, put away pencils, stack their books neatly, etc. Place a trash can near the work area for scrap pieces and other unwanted bits too. It’s amazing how distracting trash can be for some kids. Mine would get up every 10 seconds to throw things away if they could. A trashcan by the desks? Priceless! Keep cleaning supplies close at hand – but away from younger children – so it’s easier for you wipe up what they leave behind.
What have you found to work for you and your family when it comes to organizing your homeschool workspace? Tell us about it!