Homeschool 101: Where will you homeschool?

What does your homeschool look like?

Setting up to homeschool can feel like a daunting task for homeschooling families. Finding the homeschool space and organizing it can be overwhelming. Where do you keep all the books? What about craft and school supplies? Do you need a chalkboard or white board? And what about those fun school posters or charts? Keeping it all organized is challenging.

Choose where you homeschool

The first step to getting all set up is choosing your space. Where will the actual day-to-day homeschooling take place? You’ll want some place comfortable, with room to spread out, but also a place where you can store school supplies, keep books handy and maybe do a craft or an experiment.

Some families choose to have a separate space specifically for homeschooling. They’ll turn a guest bedroom, basement rec room, or home office into a “school room”.

Other families choose to incorporate the homeschooling supplies into the general flow of their home, keeping only the necessary supplies in reach of every day use. And homeschooling happens wherever it’s convenient, throughout the home.

Both ways work and both are equally adequate. It’s just a matter of choosing what works for you.

Separate space*easier to keep
*can leave projects
spread out
*easier to decorate
*install whiteboard/
chalkboard easier
*fewer distractions
*may not be as
*may not be used
*must stay in room to
keep kids supervised
Integrated*can feel more comfortable
*easier to get chores
done while kids are
doing school stuff
*easier to keep an eye on younger children
*can be harder to
keep organized
*harder to decorate
*easier to get

What you need in a homeschool space

There are 3 basic elements to every homeschool space: storage, work space, and organization.

Most homeschoolers have a large number of books. No matter what method you use to homeschool, chances are, you have a few more books lying around than the average family. And keeping them accessible and available means you’ll have bookshelves.

You might need a table of some kind to work at. Between crafts, experiments, art projects, workbooks, or technology, a workspace of some kind is necessary. Whether you use a dining room table or you have separate desks for each child, it doesn’t matter. As long as there’s some hard smooth surface for writing, drawing, creating, and learning, you’ll be fine.

And then there are all those supplies you have hanging around. Papers, pens, pencils, markers, erasers, and rulers are just a start. Then there’s the pom poms, pipe cleaners, paint, beads, playdoh, glitter, glue and scissors for the creative side. And maybe you’ve got a few file folders, binders, notebooks, and paperclips hanging around, just to keep things together.

You can use a dresser, shelving unit, desk drawers, cupboard, or drawer unit to keep all the things organized. And it doesn’t even have to be right next to your work space, but just accessible and easy to reach.

What goes on the walls of your homeschool space

If you have a separate space, you can fill the walls with fun, helpful school posters — maybe a writing checklist or a parts-of-speech chart. Or maybe the times tables or a motivational poster? It’s a lot easier to theme a room set aside for schooling, than it is to put up school-themed decor in your main living area.

But that’s not to say you can’t put beautiful and functional items on the walls of your main living area too. Try a world map, or maybe have a spot set aside for your children’s art. And many motivational posters or pictures are just as appropriate for the living room walls as they are for a school room wall.

Many homeschooling parents like having a place to teach from, like a white board or chalkboard. Again, this is a little bit easier to put up in a separate space, but you can also create a message board of some kind in your main living areas too. Try using chalkboard paint, and decorate it when not using it for school.

Styles of homeschool organization

Just like there are methods of homeschooling, there are also methods of homeschool organization.

  1. Workbox method — styled by Sue Patrick, the Workbox System is a way of organizing your homeschool activities and assignments so that a child can work almost completely independently, from a young age. It’s also a way of making reporting and tracking a bit easier, for those of us who need to track and report.
  2. Planners — There are tons of planners out there to keep homeschooling families on track and ready to learn. From online to paper-based systems, there’s a planner out there for every personality and lifestyle.
  3. Bookshelves or Cubbies — you can give each child a shelf in a bookshelf or a cubby for their books and supplies. And then another shelf or cubby for any books you might have, such as teacher’s manuals, planners, or read-alouds.
  4. School-in-a-box — using a portable crate or bag, all the student’s books, supplies and resources go in the “box”. Then they can go anywhere and still be able to complete any work. This works great for a family that travels a lot, or likes to work outdoors.
  5. Baskets, bins, boxes and folders — use a variety of containers to organize your school supplies. Mason jars make for great marker, pencil or scissor holders. A pretty basket can hold flash cards, math manipulatives, extra CDs, or art supplies. Use a bin or a box to store craft supplies. And folders are excellent places to store drawings or writing samples.

Keeping it all together

Your space for homeschooling doesn’t have to be complicated or messy. It can be as simple as a corner cupboard and a backpack. Or a storage crate or two. Or you can go big and dedicate an entire room in your home for all things homeschool. Whatever works for your family and for your lifestyle.

Personally, we’ve done the dedicated space, and we’ve done the completely portable route. Currently, we have a semi-dedicated spaces for books and supplies, in our main living area. We have tons of bookshelves with all our books in them, and we have a separate shelf for each child’s work. While I don’t put up school-themed posters, we do frame and hang up artwork that is particularly well-done.

One of the best things about homeschooling is it’s flexibility. You can homeschool however best suits your family. Right down to where and how you organize your homeschool.

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