Making the decision to homeschool is already a big deal, but that was only the beginning of big decisions. After choosing what curriculum to use, the next step for most homeschooling parents is deciding how to set up their homeschool classrooms.
While some families may already have their classrooms established, some are either looking to revamp or are starting from scratch. Let’s take a look at some homeschooling classroom ideas and some basics you can include.
Basic Needs for Your Homeschool Classroom
A Flat Workspace
Whether it be a school desk, a table and chairs, your dining room table, the floor, or a lap mat (for all your “homeschooling on the road” days), a flat surface to work on is always a good start!
Bookshelf for Curriculum & Supplies
When you’re your child’s language arts, math, AND art teacher; the P.E. coach; school nurse; and cafeteria lady, you end up with a lot of books and supplies that need organizing. This could mean investing in a bookshelf or placing them in bins and baskets. (These will also help you keep your homeschooling mobile if needed.)
Books & Curriculum
Choosing your own curriculum is a very personal decision for each family—some buy from various websites online, while others create their own. But whatever you choose, homeschooling at its core will still require some sort of books or paperwork that you and your child will use.
This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list, but here are some of the basics that you’ll be glad to have prepared:
- Whiteboard markers or chalk
- Trash can—This may seem obvious, but I spent the first 6 months of homeschooling sending my son to another part of the house to throw something away…only for him to get distracted on the way back. Oops!
Extra supplies, depending on your homeschooling style:
- Notebooks—for journaling or creating daily checklists
- Games and tangrams
- Flash cards
- Math manipulatives—our personal favorites are crackers or marshmallows so we can eat them when we’re done!
- Money—this depends on your child’s age and what he’s learning at the time
- Timer or your phone
- Age-appropriate science tools—this will depend on your curriculum or if your co-op offers science classes
- Tech for virtual learning—laptop or computer
Sticker Charts, Stickers, & Incentives
I started homeschooling my son at the beginning of 1st grade, and one of the hardest mountains we had to climb was his lack of desire and motivation to work. We fought a lot of battles around his attitude too. Once we started using sticker charts to monitor his progress and giving incentives when he collected so many stickers, everything turned around. It was a complete game-changer!
Even though there are countless studies out there on the positive effects of music on attention and retention for kids and adults alike, this is one of those homeschool classroom ideas that we only realized over time that we truly needed and loved. Our personal favorites are Minecraft or Avengers soundtracks or a station featuring music from The Piano Guys—anything instrumental is best!
With enough wall space, you can utilize it well with these ideas:
- Hang a whiteboard or chalkboard (but a mini whiteboard or paper works fine too!)
- Keep your child motivated and encouraged by displaying his crafts and achievements.
- Post a calendar to stay on track with your schedule.
- Use maps for geography and history lessons.
- Decorate with kid-friendly colors and graphics to create a happy learning environment.
Additional Considerations When Thinking Through Homeschool Classroom Ideas
While learning from other experienced homeschooling parents is a great idea, keep these things in mind when putting together a homeschool classroom that best suits your family.
You Don’t Have to Copy School Classrooms
There’s this belief that in order for true learning to happen, certain things have to be in place. Rows of desks facing a clean wall with a white board in the middle, colorful charts that measure children’s progress, and a large rug to separate music time from academic time—these are only a few of the things we see in public or private school classroom that we think need to be in homeschool classrooms also. You don’t have to have these things—unless you want them.
Understand Your Kid’s Preferences & Learning Style
All families need some level of structure, and it’s up to that particular family to determine what that means for them. This could mean allowing your kids to have an active role in deciding what room you’ll use for a homeschool classroom or how you’ll use the walls.
Depending on the learning style of different children, many parents and teachers have found allowing children to sit on exercise balls instead of chairs has been helpful in assisting with behavioral issues, retention problems, or attention deficits.
Kinesthetic learners will need a lot of room to move around as they learn, so if your kid learns better through movement, don’t choose your walk-in closet to convert into a classroom! You don’t need a huge house to do this, either. Heading outside to do something physical will go a long way.
Additional supplies such as fidget spinners, stress balls, kinetic sand, water beads, or other supplies that aid in sensory engagement could be added to your classroom depending on your child’s needs.
Your Needs Will Depend on Your Out-of-the-classroom Activities
Some homeschool families will choose to join homeschool co-ops or groups where kids can be in a classroom environment for classes such as art, music, science, or other unit study-type subjects. As children get older, there are other opportunities, like colleges or schools, where they can take more complex classes.
If you take advantage of these options, it could mean you don’t have to be prepared with easels, water paints, tambourines, or microscopes after all!
Know Your Homeschooling Style
What would you say is your style of homeschooling? Traditional? Charlotte Mason? Unschool? Montessori? Every single one of these styles will affect your classroom setup—some in small ways and some in big ways. Get to know your style and adjust your classroom accordingly.
Choose Homeschool Classroom Ideas That Fit Your Life—Not the Other Way Around
Do you travel a lot? Then make your homeschool portable (bins, backpacks, mini whiteboards).
Do you have a lovely porch you want to utilize or do you love going to the park? Be creative and figure out how to homeschool outdoors!
Is your child enrolled in virtual learning courses? Focus on having a computer desk and headphones more than having a writing desk and a stash of pencils.
Maybe you simply don’t have a room to designate as your homeschool classroom. That’s okay! Use your dining room table or buy a fun rug and sit on your floor.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you get to create a space that fits you and your family, not what fits everyone else’s idea of what they think school should be like. Use these homeschool classroom ideas to set up your space in a way that’s best for you!
Jen McOwen is a mom of two and Ultimate Bundle’s Quality Control Specialist. When she’s not working or homeschooling her almost 8-year-old son, you’ll find her outside on sunny days, playing board games on rainy days, and reading a book every day in between!