10 Ideas for Setting Up a Homeschooling Room (Plus, Scheduling Tips)
Professional educators share how to create a homeschooling space and establish a routine for successful students of all ages.
Photo By: Wes Tarca
Photo By: Markëta Howard
Photo By: Jeff Herr
Photo By: Jared Kuzia Photography
Photo By: Rennai Hoefer
Photo By: Sean Litchfield Photography
Photo By: Markëta Howard
Photo By: Regan Wood Photography
Photo By: Spacecrafting Photography
Soak Up the Sun
Location, location, location! If possible, set up a homeschool room in a space with several windows and ample sunlight. A sundrenched learning space will naturally energize your students, lift their moods and keep them engaged throughout the day. The view beyond the homeschool room windows can also serve as quick-and-easy inspiration for art projects, writing worksheets and science lessons.
Homeschooling multiple students at different grade levels in the same room can be tricky. Lifestyle blogger and home educator Markëta Howard shares her go-to approach to making it work with two kiddos. "Although my children are at different learning levels, they enjoy working together," says Howard. "I always keep materials they both like available and encourage my son to help my daughter with things he’s good at (and can be patient with!) like helping with her reading practice or with identifying numbers. If you have children of multiple ages I encourage you to give them opportunities to engage in both independent and collaborative work." Find more homeschooling tips and inspiration from Markëta on Instagram @SchoolatHomeandBeyond.
Make a Phone-Free Zone
The secret to a successful homeschool room for middle and high school students is removing as many external distractions as possible. Caitlin Carter, a high school teacher, stresses the importance of creating a clean, comfortable and phone-free zone in the learning space. "Phones are the biggest distraction for high schoolers so eliminating/minimizing that distraction is key," she explains. "Have your child keep their phone in a different location from where they are working or put their phone on Do Not Disturb."
Take a Break
All students need a break sometimes. Create a mini, built-in break area in your homeschool room with a plush rug, a small table for snacks or crafts and opaque storage cubbies filled with playtime activities. Experienced homeschool educator Markëta Howard chooses to keep fun activities on hand that tap into her kids’ creativity during break time. "During breaks, my kids like to build structures and marble runs with Magna-Tiles and wooden blocks. They create play scenes with animal figurines, peg dolls, Sarah’s Silks, toy cars, dolls and their Way-to-Play Roads. They also enjoy arts and crafts, playing games like Twister, Uno, chess, and charades, science kits like the ones offered by Kiwi Co., and spending time outdoors."
Encourage Exploration + Concentration
Set your student up for success by outfitting their homeschooling room with their interests in mind and make space for both independent work and play. "My number one tip for keeping learners engaged would be to make sure the work is interesting", quoting Maria Montessori. "An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities and leads him to self-mastery'," says Markëta Howard. "My second tip is similar: Allow your learner to select their own work and engage with it for as long as they would like. This gives space for the child to concentrate which is where great cognitive development takes shape. After all, as Dr. Maria Montessori said, 'The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.'"
Structure Activity Centers
"For pre-K and young elementary school students, it’s important to create structure throughout their day to maximize engagement and skill-retention during the school year," shares experienced kindergarten teacher Sherri Conti. "Start each morning with worksheets that require writing and concentration. Break up the afternoon hours by having your student engage at various activity centers equipped with subject-related toys, objects or books for them to play, sort, count and read."
Sort by Subject
Create a sense of order and calm in your homeschooling room by strategically organizing your school supplies. Homeschooling pro Markëta Howard uses a customized system to keep her learning space in check throughout the week. "Many of my children’s learning materials are different so I’ve organized their work based on the subject area, then level of ability. Their math shelves, for instance, are organized so that my son’s math materials are on one side and my daughter’s math materials are on the other. My children always have the option to work independently at the table or on the floor using a work mat."
Strike While the Iron's Hot
Markëta Howard encourages parents to take cues from their kids to optimize their learning schedule each day. "Create a schedule that takes advantage of the time when your children are most fresh and ready to work, usually in the morning. Then make sure they’ve had breakfast (so important!) before starting school. We follow the Montessori three-hour work cycle which is my children’s opportunity to delve deep into their schoolwork. They often get wrapped up in their learning activities and I disappear into the background for a while — still present, but not an active participant. This leaves room for deeper concentration as they work, which is great for their cognitive and personal development."
Where Focus Goes, Energy Flows
Give middle and high school students space to focus away from younger siblings by creating a calm homeschooling space at the kitchen or dining table. High school teacher Caitlin Carter encourages parents to work with their older children on creating a homeschool space and schedule that works best for them. "There are two different types of schedules you could create for high schoolers," says Carter. "One option would be to focus only on one class (or two depending on how many classes they are taking) every day. Complete all the assignments that class has for the week in that one day. Option two would be to spend 60-90 minutes on each subject every day. My suggestion would be to try both schedules and see which one works best for your child."
Corral the Chaos
Take notes from this adorable space and outfit your homeschooling room with soothing colors, easy-to-clean surfaces and streamlined furnishings. Designer Bria Hammel uses a sleek midcentury modern table for kids to work on paired with simple metal chairs to complete the look. Green crate storage adds a splash of lively color to the room and keeps supplies tucked away and out-of-sight between lessons.