This is the time of year when trending Pinterest searches are supposed to be back-to-school supplies and first-day-of-school picture ideas. This year, though, back-to-school shopping means stocking up on masks and hand sanitizer, and Pinterest searches for homeschooling resources are at an all-time high. Across the country, parents are faced with impossible choices of sending their children back to school with masks and distancing, virtual school at home, or all-out homeschooling. The challenges and concerns of each decision are almost paralyzing…and yet, we have to choose SOMETHING.
I think we all realize that even for those that are sending kids back to school, they’re all going to end up back home at some point. No one knows when, or for how long, but it’s pretty inevitable that things are going to get shut down again this fall. The majority of us were caught completely off guard by the quarantine last spring, but at least this time we have some time to prepare. One way that I’m trying to be proactive (for the sake of my own sanity!) is by preparing a temporary classroom space at home. I’m going to be homeschooling my kindergartner, so we need a space to do that for the entire year. We’re sending my 3rd grader back to school in-person, but I know she’ll likely be joining us to do virtual school at home once schools are closed.
As I’ve been thinking through the ways that I can be proactive in creating a temporary school room – defining a space in our home for schoolwork, clearing out some clutter to make way for school books and supplies, shopping ahead for any kinds of workbooks or supplies we might need, making a plan for ways to keep everything organized – I thought it might be helpful to share some of these practical ideas with you! I put out the call on Instagram for tips from teachers and experienced homeschool mamas, and I got some great advice there as well. After all, even though our individual homes and situations are all VERY different, we’re all facing the same kinds of challenges.
Just a quick reminder before you keep scrolling – turn off your guilt/shame/comparison tendencies NOW. Remember that images shared on blogs and Instagram are rarely real life – quite often the mess begins just outside the frame of the photograph. Use these images and suggestions as a springboard to put together strategies that will work for you and your family. Everyone’s home is different. Everyone’s family situation is different. The vast majority of us don’t and won’t ever have homes that look like a magazine – and that’s okay! Especially in this crazy season, it’s important that we all give ourselves grace.
So whether you’re home schooling, virtual schooling, or just preparing for the inevitable period of time when we’re all stuck at home again, I hope you can find some inspiration and ideas here for how to set up a temporary school room in your own house!
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HOW TO CREATE A TEMPORARY SCHOOL ROOM AT HOME
1. Pick a place in your house you can re-purpose to use for school; your dining room, a home office, playroom, rec room, guest bedroom, etc. Try to avoid having young children work in their own bedrooms, as it can be confusing to have to focus and work in the same space where they’re used to relaxing and sleeping.
2. If there isn’t already a table or desk in your space, add one to serve as a workspace for your kids. You can look to purchase an inexpensive one new (I snagged this table from IKEA and it’s great quality for the price!), keep an eye on Facebook Marketplace for something used, re-purpose something you already have, or even just use a folding table as a temporary workspace.
3. No extra space? Use the kitchen table and come up with creative ways to stash away work at meal times.
4. For younger kids, you can use lap desks like these for doing school work on the floor in the living room. Make sure you have a designated spot to put them when they’re not in use. You could also use clipboards or TV trays to create work spaces in a living room.
5. Add some inexpensive shelves for designated storage in your school space. Cube storage shelving is SO versatile and they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase new if you can’t find anything used. Plastic drawers are also great for cheap organization!
6. If you don’t have space to add shelves, “steal” some storage space from other areas to store books and school supplies. (You could even stick some small cube shelves inside a closet!) Rearrange your coat closet to fit some shelving or plastic drawers or add an over-the-door pocket organizer to utilize door space.
7. Rolling carts are terrific for multi-purpose spaces! Create a “school cart” that you can roll out of the way when you’re not using it.
8. Multiple children? Make sure everybody one has their own “school bin” where they can store notebooks and other supplies that are just for them. Use a basket, bin or even heavy duty tote bags.
9. Lots of extra electronic devices? Designate a charging station to store laptops, tablets, and headphones when they’re not in use. Make sure it’s up and away from baby brothers and sisters!
10. Flexibility is key. I do think it’s important to prepare for where you’ll be doing work most days, but the beauty of school from home is that it can be whatever you want it to be! Beautiful day? Take schoolwork outside on a picnic blanket. Case of the wiggles? Do a math worksheet laying on the floor instead of at the table. Need a break? Go for a nature walk. Are things feeling stale and boring? Make a blanket fort over the dining room table and do school in there. You’re the one making the rules, so you get to bend them when you need to. It’s relatively easy set up some structure and organization from the get-go and then choose to deviate from it occasionally. It’s a whole lot more difficult to start with no structure whatsoever and then try to establish it once you’ve started.
Do you have any other tips or creative ideas for creating a temporary school room in your home? Leave a comment to share it with us!
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