An Overview of My Homeschooling Room
I want to preface this entire blog with two points.
a) I was able to do this entire homeschooling room for around $600, but this is probably not a fair estimate.
- I had some of the items like the three-tiered shelf on the left side of the picture below and the red curtains.
- I had many of the organization bins that I was able to re-purpose for this homeschooling room.
- Most of the furniture I found on Craigslist or in the AS-IS section of IKEA, so if you don’t have an active Craigslist like the Austin-area does or an IKEA, it may be more difficult to get cheaper items. But garage sales were a great resource for me, which are available in any area.
- The whiteboard was a gift from a friend (thanks, Sarah!).
b) That said, I can tell you NONE of those little helpful things would have happened without prayer.
15 Homeschool Room Tips & Tricks
Lesson #1: Pray Over Your Homeschool Room
I prayed over the design of this homeschooling room for months before I ever got started. I didn’t have this room the first year we homeschooled. I am glad for that. Our dining room table worked out just fine for that first year. I was able to focus on the homeschooling part, instead of the designing part.
Pray for God’s blessings to find things that work for YOU.
Don’t make it just like so-and-so’s homeschooling room. He knows you better than ANYONE. He can see your future and what you will need for it. Let Him guide. You will not be disappointed.
Psalms 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the [homeschooling room], the builders labor in vain.
In my house, we essentially have three living spaces. What a waste!
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At first, this room was beautiful but never utilized.
We thought we were going to move, so we got rid of the furniture in this room, but when the contract fell through and we decided to stay, this room stayed empty.
After realizing we were pregnant with #4 in 2010 (and #5 in 2011) we moved all the ugly birch colored office furniture down to this room. It was FINALLY a useful room, but a complete EYESORE!
It took me getting rid of one of my favorite pieces of furniture: an old barnwood hutch. It was the only piece of furniture from this room I hadn’t sold. It was fabulous, but if I really wanted to give my homeschooling room a chance I had to part with it. (The other office furniture I sold easily…good riddance!)
The hutch now lives with its new owner, a friend of mine, and my homeschooling room was empty for redoing. Win-win!
Lesson #2: You Gotta Sacrifice
Sometimes, in order to have that “perfect” homeschooling room, you must get rid of things you love to make room for the things you need.
The lovely thing about getting rid of things via garage sale or Craigslist, is that you can get money for your homeschooling room!
But, I still miss my woven red couch and barnwood hutch. But nothing can compare to the usefulness of my homeschooling room.
Okay, now for the meat and potatoes of this blog.
I’ll start with a couple pictures as an overview. Then, I will go section by section for a more detailed view of the homeschooling room.
When there is a story about God’s provision for my homeschooling room, I will share the story, because He alone deserves the glory for this room. Without His provision (and the occasional handslap), it may have turned out pretty, but in reality, would have been counted as “hay and rubble.”
Lesson 3: Organization is Key
- Three-tiered shelf: Already owned (from Walmart or Target) = $0
- IKEA EXPEDIT 5×5 Shelf (usually $200 at IKEA) I got on Craigslist = $100
- IKEA TROFAST bins $4/bin x 4 bins (one of the few things I had to purchase new & full price) = $16
- IKEA EXPEDIT 2×2 Shelf (usually $50 at IKEA). I got on Craigslist = $20
- World Globe at ROSS = $15
- IKEA LEKMAN bins $10/bin x 14 (only 13 pictured because I broke one. These acrylic bins break VERY easy. These bins have since gone up in price!) = $140
TOTAL COST of items listed: $291
Let me stop there. The $140 I spent on bins was one of the ABSOLUTE hardest pills to swallow.
But without them…it just wouldn’t have had the desire effect. Because they break so easily I wish there would have been another option (believe me I tried to find one). But the closed-in-ness of these bins works so well for storing all those little items that would make a mess otherwise.
I wish I could say that I bought them a few at a time, but the trip to IKEA is such a pain that it wasn’t worth the hassle, so I bought them all together.
But, this piece BY FAR is the most useful and essential in organizing my homeschool room.
I used to have the red bins organized in a checkerboard fashion, but found that I needed the schoolbooks to be out of reach more than having the fancy checkerboard.
Lesson #4: Function comes over form
I’m sure that every family has one of these shelves. They can be flimsy. I have secured the flapping cardboard back with a super heavy all-purpose glue.
If yours is on the brink of destruction, you can salvage it!
All these little storage boxes I already had in my house.
The “marker container” is made to look like a marker. It is made out of an old protein powder container and construction paper. I wrapped it with packing tape so that the paper doesn’t fray.
My kids have colored all over the wooden drawers that are from IKEA and I stole them from my husband’s old office. Eventually, I will paint them to match the room.
Lesson #5: Homeschool Learning Can Be DIY
One of the things I would like to point out here is this Tupperwareare with the blue lid. This is an eaMontessoriori toy you can make at home.
TIP: Watch your children. This toy can make a BIG mess!
Speaking of Montessori toys. We purchased this one a long time ago at Montessori Outlet.
I was told that this toy forces them to “pinch” the tops in order to get them out of the holes. The “pinching” maneuver helps young children learn how to hold pencils later on in education.
Lesson #6: Create a Play Area
Since we still have very small children, I wanted LOTS of bins for their toys/books/coloring books/puzzles.
Entertainment for the little ones is essential for a homeschooling room to distract them!
But I also wanted a space where my homeschoolers could play and I wanted a long bench to sit/play on.
- Curtains (I already had these) cost $40/set at IKEA. My cost = $0
- Rug (used the rug sizing guide; In AS-IS section at IKEA) cost = $10
- IKEA TROFAST (purchased new) Bins $4/bin x 8 bins = $32
- IKEA Shelves (I laid these shelves sideways, but I think they are supposed to be up and down) @ $15/piece on Craigslist (discontinued IKEA) = $30
- Toy bin from Target (in the corner…you kind of can’t see it) = $5
TOTAL COST of items listed: $78.00
Each of these bins are sorted and filled with things like:
- Coloring Books
I wish they always played as sweetly as they look like they are in this photo.
Lesson #7: Have Sturdy Desk and Chairs
Because we have older homeschoolers, I need to be in the same room with the little ones while schooling the big ones. This setup allows for both smalls ones to be entertained (or attempt to be entertained) while the bigger ones have their space, too.
- Desks $20/each (I have three, bought from Craigslist and the AS-IS section of IKEA) = $60
- Bulletin Board* – these were on Craigslist from some sort of school/church closing and since I bought two (one for my schoolroom and one from my husband’s office) I was able to garner a “deal” = $20
- School Chairs (from Lakeshore Learning) – usually these are $60/chair BUT I got two of these at a 40% discount = $72
- Lamps (IKEA, AS-IS section) $4/each = $8
- HELMER Rolling Metal Cabinets usually $40/each at IKEA, I got them from Craigslist for $25/each (I usually don’t pay more than half of IKEA’s regular price, but I looked for these for a while on Craigslist so I made an exception) = $50
- High quantity printer was donated by a friend (prints 600 B&W pages per ink cartridge). Great for printing stuff off of superteacherworksheets.com
TOTAL COST of items listed: $210.00
*The Bulletin Board is BY FAR the most useless part of my school room. Everything on it is for decoration only!
For any of you wanting to know where my computer is at, it is off to the side of these pictures (you can see it in the video) and under the school supply organization racks. Sorry, I didn’t include that picture. But all the desks are the same.
Also, I want to insert my “God” story here, which includes my “fasting” from Craigslist.
Okay, I don’t know if you are like me. But when I’m on a mission…I’m ON a mission.
I trolled Craigslist ALL DAY. EVERYDAY.
It was an obsession.
Conviction set in. Wasn’t I supposed to be trusting God for this schoolroom?
I was waiting on a paycheck from a web design job I did (no, I don’t do that professionally anymore). It would come in three weeks or so.
I promised God I would fast from Craigslist.
It was hard. I may have cheated once, but for the most part I stuck it out.
Lo and behold, on the day I went to cash my check. I saw a black chair on the side of the road, much like the red one pictured below.
I knew it was a sign (call me cheesy). I had initially thought I wanted some IKEA chairs, but God continued to direct me to these more expensive “real” school chairs.
The ones I really wanted were like $90 online. I couldn’t bear to part with that much money.
But I looked out for the Lakeshore Learning Catalog and found a “Buy 1, get 1 Half Off” coupon.
But little did I realize that God was going to bless me for honoring Him.
I walked into Lakeshore planning on placing an order (they don’t keep these chairs in stock).
AND what did I see?
Two red chairs (at the time I only had two desks) that were in the store!
I just had to ask about them.
The clerk told me that they were BOTH 40% off because someone had ordered them and then decided they didn’t want them anymore.
Does following Jesus pay off? Yes, it does! (Of course, that’s not why we follow him, but it sure is a nice benefit!)
Read Next: 10 Things You’ll Regret Buying for Your Homeschool Room (Guest Blog at BeautyintheMess.com)
Lesson #8: Don’t Forget To Give the Kids Their Own Storage Area
This is the HELMER up close. I like this item, because they have (ahem…junk) things they don’t want to get rid of and this keeps it out of sight. It is also useful for things that are specific to their schoolwork.
Lesson #9: Protect Your Surfaces
TIP: Wrap your desks in clear vinyl to keep them nice and new.
You can purchase it at the nearest fabric store. I got mine at Hobby Lobby for $1/yard. I think I got five yards and that covered all three tables.
I secured it with a staple gun.
It keeps all the gunk off the desk. You can replace it cheaply and your desk will look brand spankin’ new again.
Also, some of this IKEA furniture wouldn’t handle the wear and tear that even ONE child can wreck on it, much less five kids!
TOTAL COST: $5.00
Lesson #10: Have Great Lighting
Since I’m on the subject of desks, I will talk about lighting here. In this room we have big windows and a nice ceiling fan hanging from a vaulted ceiling.
That sounds like a recipe for great lighting…NOT.
The ceiling fan is nearly useless for light because it’s more of a decorative fan/light kit. And our backyard is filled with lovely trees, which is great but totally cuts off light from our schoolroom.
I would LOVE to install a flourescent light (ugly…I know!) for utility. But alas, I have forgone my dreams of more lighting due to budgeting constraints (and a vaulted ceiling) and opted for these lamps at each desk.
If your homeschooling room is like mine, invest in good lighting.
You know how on Sunday morning, during worship…the lights are low…and slowly…you hear your bed calling your name.
That’s kinda how doing school in low lighting is…even for the teacher.
Lesson #11: Inspire Reading with a Nook
I love my kid’s reading nook!
The shelves usually hold our library books, which works well since it makes them special and they change often. (And keeps them close to the back door, which reminds me to return them!)
- IKEA chairs (spray painted to newness after buying them for $2/chair at a garage sale) and $1 can of spray paint = $5
- IKEA shelves (cut in half to fit). I found in the AS-IS section for $1.99 (Seriously? I couldn’t pass that up!) = $2
- Books = FREE from the Library!
TOTAL COST of items listed: $7.00
And they totally use it.
Lesson #12: Get Dedicated Supply Organization
- IKEA BYGEL Rail = $3
- IKEA BYGEL Containers – $1/each x 8 = $8
TOTAL COST: $11.00
These are awesome. And cheap! If you are going to skimp on your homeschooling room…DON’T SKIMP on these organization things! They are worth their weight in gold.
Here is a straight-on photo to show how I stacked them.
If you don’t know this already, the best time to buy school supplies is in late August right before school starts.
Some essential items are:
- Scissors (remember there are lefty scissors out there)
- Hole Puncher
Lesson #13: Multipurpose Your Schoolroom
Our homeschooling room is located at our back door. So this is our “mud room.” In the summer, the bins are mostly filled with shoes. In the winter, we stuff jackets and hats in these bins as well. Yes…our jackets probably smell like shoes…but there are worse things that could happen.
The piano…what can I say. At least I know how to play…and I could teach them…one day.
But the whiteboard. That is my shining glory. I use thing sucker ALL THE TIME. It was a gift from my friend. I’m sure they are expensive. But this is worth it. And buy the “real” whiteboard markers. Don’t skimp.
I wish the shoe storage and the piano were out of the way so I could really get next to it, but it works for me.
TIP: Use Velcro to attach your whiteboard markers and eraser to the actual board so you never lose your supplies!
TIP: Also (unlike this photo), store you dry-erase markers with the tips down so the ink flows down and the markers don’t dry out.
Lesson #14: Hit Up Your Local Dollar Store
I have a calendar on my bulletin board, complete with Velcro numbers shaped like apples (totally useless). But what I really needed was a days of the week calendar.
I don’t love the placement of this on my wall (above the reading nook) but it is right next to the door and light switch. I see it EVERY DAY!
I purchased this at the Dollar General. All the dollar stores have great school items like this.
Another dollar store item I bought was these little red boat-looking bowls. I use them to distribute colors from the GIGANTIC “Color Bear” we have.
No one should have this many crayons.
The “Color Bear” is re-purposed animal cracker bear from Costco.
On any given day the entire “Color Bear” can be spilled out…huge mess! The boats help avoid that situation.
The boats are $1/each.
Lesson #15: There Are Always More HomeSchooling Room Ideas
I stole this idea from my girlfriend, Lindsey, who I believe got it from Pinterest. And like all things on Pinterest (this blog included) many are fun ideas…but don’t have a lot of follow-through without dedication.
Unfortunately, this “game” is one of those things.
But I’ll share it anyway.
I put a bunch of “fun to-dos” on large popsicle sticks. For example:
- Read a book with Mom
- Play a Game: Matching
- Play a Game: Old Maid
- Color with Mom
- Jump on the Trampoline
You get the point. Then the rules state:
- Pick Only One: No Exchanges
- The event will take at least 15 minutes and no more than 30 minutes. (This helps mom actually turn-off “mom brain” and have fun without thinking about how many chores she has and cutting the time short, but the 30 minutes makes it short enough that you aren’t stuck all day at your child’s whim)
- Must be done immediately. No Rain Checks!
- Have Fun!
Homeschooling Room in real life
Our homeschooling room has a couple random items that I can’t seem to get rid of. Like our volcano. But as you can see it has gotten quite a bit of action.
But then, there are a couple of sad items like the one below. It was supposed to be a suspension bridge. But we lost steam. I guess I should just toss it and call it a day, right?
So, that is it!
If I add up just the homeschooling room furniture it ran me less than $600 (before tax, of course). We purchased everything slowly, not all at once. We aren’t big spenders and I have to be very thrifty since our family is so large (okay…not as large as some homeschooling families…I love you Mrs. Duggar!)
Do you need a homeschooling room?
Nope…not at all.
Many times we end up on a couch or my bed because we want to lay out and be more comfortable.
If you are just starting out, please realize that this homeschooling room has taken YEARS to complete and with lots of prayer.
Focus on your child and their schooling. The other stuff will come.
My #1 Tip for making your homeschooling room work for you: GIVE IT TO GOD!
Luke 12:31 NLT says:
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.