As my eldest daughter and I prepare for our third year of homeschooling, and my youngest for our second year, I’ve been in hulk mode with getting our curricula and learning space together. I don’t know what happens, but something clicks in me when it’s time to plan for our new school year. My thoughts run wild all day, I become obsessed with my to-do lists, and my insomnia kicks into high gear. I really take this homeschooling journey seriously, and my goal is to make sure that everything meets all of our expectations for an amazing learning experience. This school year I recognize that not only are myself and other veteran homeschooling parents preparing for new school years, but new homeschooling and virtual (distance) learning parents are as well. That, unfortunately, brings on an immense amount of pressure to figure things out for something that is new to both the parent and their child(ren).
As someone who’s not new to creating a learning space, it’s actually not necessary to create a new learning space each school year; it’s a choice. I enjoy making small or big changes to my family’s space because my children age out of certain tools, I realize there other things I’d like to add and/or remove, and it brings on some excitement for the girls and myself when we change up our space. Now that school is upon us, many are posting what their learning spaces will look like for the school year. I’ve seen so many beautiful spaces and beautifully curated pictures. They have been gorgeous, inspiring, and creative. However, seeing those pictures can make some feel insecure about what they are able to do for their family. I’m here to tell you to acknowledge the greatness, but erase the images of those big lavish and perfectly designed spaces from your mind NOW! If you’re able to create a space like those images, do it! But if not, don’t fret!
It’s important that you think about your family’s needs, preferences, and budget when creating your perfect learning space. The meaning of perfect for me is that it is perfect for the individuals involved, which means that it’s not for any and everyone else. You can be inspired and want to try different setups you may have seen on Pinterest or Instagram, but you have to be sure to tailor it to your needs. It is so important that you understand this because some of you are working with a little bit of space and feeling defeated because your learning space doesn’t look like someone else’s. Homeschooling does not have to be expensive at all, and that’s why I love it. You have so much room to make this experience absolutely amazing for both you and your child(ren). That’s a vital thing to remember when creating the perfect learning space. There are so many learning and teaching styles (i.e. Montessori, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, mixture) so your space has to reflect the one(s) that you use. So! Let’s talk about the different learning spaces you can create for your family, big or small, lavish, or minimalist. At the end of this post, you’ll find a list of the places I like to search and shop from. Feel free to comment and/or email me if you have any questions, or if you’d like to share some of your favorite places. I’ll update this post as needed.
WORKING WITH A SMALL SPACE WITH A SMALL AND/OR OPEN BUDGET?
So often we believe that if our space is too little, we aren’t in the position of homeschooling our child(ren). Well clearly it’s not a choice for many anymore, and now you have to make it work regardless if your space is limited. You are more than capable of having an excellent educational experience with a limited amount of space. You can’t compare your homeschool/virtual school to a perfectly curated picture on social media. If you have no room to work with, purchase an ottoman or try making a little space in a closet to store the materials that you’ll be using for school. If you have a dining room area/table, please use your table for learning! It’s the perfect place for you to work on one end, and your child(ren) on the other. You have the choice of setting up and breaking down your dining room set up each day, or you can get your child(ren) involved. It’s important to make them a part of the cleaning and maintenance of their learning space. If you have a little more room and can afford to have your learning materials out in the open or in a corner, consider using a storage cart or storage bin. I love the multi-drawer storage carts and plastic storage bins with wheels for easy movement. I believe in being strategic about what you invest in. Storage can range from $15 (Here’s a cheap cart I found at Walmart) to the hundreds, it just depends on your budget. They range in size and design so there’s a host of options.
If you don’t have a dining room table to work with or open space for storage, make use of the couch and/or floor. Use what you’ve got to make things happen. Your child will be perfectly fine with their laptop and books lounging across the couch and/or floor eating and learning. In addition, you may consider moving some things around in your child’s room in order to make a little learning nook. It’s a bit of a costly investment, but I’ve recently considered purchasing a daybed in order to combine my children’s room and our schoolroom. While it’s ideal to have a set space that separates learning from sleeping and/or play, you can still add to your child’s room and simply set some boundaries and rules. Got a little more space? Invest in a desk. You can get a student desk that fits their current size, one that you can adjust as they grow (the legs on the desk adjust as if it were a crutch or cane like this one), or one that can work for both you and your child (i.e. a writer’s desk). Facebook Marketplace is an amazing place to look for classroom items, especially desks. I was able to snag a student desk last year for $8 from a music school that was renovating. I’m 100% sure you’ll find storage carts and more on there. You can also purchase learning materials such as curriculum, manipulatives, etc.
WORKING WITH A MEDIUM TO LARGE SPACE WITH A SMALL AND/OR OPEN BUDGET?
Even if you’re working with a big budget, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to fill up your large learning area. However, what you choose to invest in can determine how long it may last you throughout your homeschooling journey. With more space, there’s more of an opportunity to purchase school materials in bulk, furniture for organizing, create different learning centers, reading nooks, easels, decorations, and more. Be careful not to get too carried away! It’s best to budget so that you don’t create clutter, and the rest of your money can go toward curricula, online resources, co-ops, field trips, food, and more.
My first year with an actual room dedicated to learning was last year. While it was exciting to have the bigger space, interior design doesn’t come to me naturally so I did my best to make a space conducive for both learning and play. I was gifted and purchased additional organizing bins that I placed on the floor for easy access to the girls, and utilized plastic storage drawers for the storage of the things that we would not yet be using. I didn’t even think about the amazing storage carts that I mentioned earlier. For my desk area, I used an old, round TV dinner table with a fold-up chair that (now that I think about it) was not pleasing to the eye. As the school year neared the end, I realized that I played myself short and really needed to step my game up for this upcoming year. When things were primarily on the floor, the room became cluttered and junky easily. Also, while I like shopping on a low budget and thrifting, that doesn’t mean I can’t make it bring out the amazing space that we have!
I didn’t go crazy, and you don’t have to either, but if you desire to and have the means to do so, GO FOR IT! Go all out for your child(ren). Fill the walls up with pictures ( a cute school picture is great), artwork, inspiring quotes, and educational posters. LED lights or Christmas lights are simple, but they create fun but relaxing vibes. Be sure to leave room for things such as sight words, but especially for graded school work/exams and your child’s artwork. With your larger space, you have more room for trial-and-error. Try a setup, and then try again if it doesn’t work. Discover what your style or learning theme is and literally create. You can make your space have a rustic, Pan African, classical, cartoon character themed, and more. You can even buy a large roll of paper, attach it to your wall, and let your child(ren) create a mural. I find it best to have as much open space as you can though. It leaves room for dance breaks, P.E. indoors, building, creating, and more. The biggest and simplest change I made to our room this year was purchase organizing shelves/stands. I absolutely love them, and my girls do too! It still allows for them to have access to their things, but clean up is much easier and clutter is almost nonexistent (considering I have a toddler who drags everything in and out of the room). I was also gifted a bigger and rectangular desk and chair that fit perfectly. I would love to say that our space is complete, but it isn’t. I, like you, can change up decorations to match seasons, holidays, and more.
I would love to go on and on about the endless things you can do with your small to large space, but you’d be reading for days. For now, hit the subscribe button, and follow me on Instagram @_queen.tiana and Queendom Wife and Mother on Facebook. I will be going live, and creating IGTV videos sharing more of my thoughts on this topic, and learning at home in general! Pictures/Videos of our previous and current learning spaces are below.
Places I like to shop or think are great for furniture, decorations, school supplies:
- Target (Has an excellent teachers sale and back-to-school sale)
- Dollar Store (Tree, General)
- Facebook Marketplace
- Lakeshore Learning
- Five Below
There are so many more out there, but these are my go-to’s! I am not a brand ambassador or influencer for any of the brands mentioned above. While I do not receive any incentives or income from those mentioned, if you’d like to donate to our family in any way, my cash app is $QueendomWM and PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org or PayPal.Me/queengurley.