Trying to set up a homeschool classroom when you literally have zero space left in your house is definitely a challenge. However, it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task if you just thinking outside the box (and the books) a bit! Check out how I made an itty bitty corner in my dining room work for my son!
So, as you may know, Jake started cyber school this year. It’s not technically the same thing as homeschooling because he has a slew of teachers (versus just me) and a curriculum set by them. Still, when it comes down to the nitty gritty details, I am his primary teacher and he IS going to school at home. He needs a dedicated space to do his school work. The problem? Space is hard to come by in this house already. My “office” is my dining room table! All I had to give him was a corner in the same dining room where I work (that way, I’m right here if he needs me). Here’s how I made it work.
How to Set Up an Itty Bitty Classroom that Inspired Great Big Learning
*FYI, I received the Bestek Desk Lamp mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.
First, you really need to forget about creating a Pinterest-perfect classroom. I’m going to tell you right now, 90% of those are more than likely staged. Someone took the time to clean them up perfectly, get the lightining just right, and so on. In fact, I staged my pictures in this post! Do you think Jake opens his books just so like that? LOL. Seriously, while you can (and I certainly do) get great ideas on Pinterest, don’t feel like a failure because your finished product looks nothing like theirs. Now that we got that covered, on to my tips!
1. Carve out one tiny area in your home and measure the space…twice!
Once you’ve found a nook in which to set up your classroom, make sure you measure the space more than once. Also, measure both the wall and the floor. I skipped this step and bought a desk that fit PERFECT against the wall. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the baseboard heater into account so it will never, ever, ever be flush with said wall. It’s not the end of the world but it is kind of annoying.
2. Supersize your desk
It may sound counterproductive to fill your tiny space with a desk, but it actually works better for Jake in the long run. I had a smaller desk and a shelf in the corner before. He was constantly knocking stuff over and shuffling things around so he would have enough space. We got a bigger desk and now he has plenty of extra space to sprawl out with his books. We were also able to ditch a giant floor lamp and go with a smaller desk lamp! I can’t tell you how many times Alex the Fuzz knocked over the floor lamp when he was doing crazy cat. I bought a desk with a few shelves facing out from the side. They don’t take up any extra floor space and hold the essentials close by.
3. Make the lamp fit the space…not the space fit the lamp!
Like I said above, we had a giant floor lamp that just did not fit the space until I got my BESTEK 2-in-1 LED Lamp Desk for review. Talk about the perfect lamp for small spaces! The “footprint” of it is just a few inches, yet it has the “reach” of a much larger lamp. Not only does the head bend all the way down and back, but the arm also bends completely down and backwards quite a bit. Turning it on and up is as easy as tapping the little touch-button on the top. The LED light has three brightness levels and lasts 60,000 hours. To put that into perspective, Jake needs 990 hours a year of school time by law. He’s in 7th grade, so he needs just under 6,000 hours to graduate.
This lamp will last ten times that long! Plus it’s stylish, isn’t it? It also comes with a clamp so if you’re crazy short on space you can attach it right to the desk. Buy it on Amazon or on the Bestek Mall!
4. Skip the books
If you’re doing cyber school, just put the books away somewhere until it’s time to send them back. Trust me, you don’t need them. Jake’s school sent him a Math book, Language Arts book and 2 Social Studies books. We’ve only opened up the Social Studies and only because he likes me to read it to him while he reads along on the online version. That’s right, the online version. Every single one of his books has a copy online that he can access anytime. Yes, I know there are books in my pictures. That’s where the staging comes in to play!
Even if you’re not cyber schooling, you can find plenty of online resources for your kids to read. Buy free or inexpensive Kindle books, pay a few dollars a month to access online curriculum, and so on. I was going to buy Jake a book of worksheets but honestly, he does fine with the online worksheets that come with his classes. If you DO want to give your kids worksheets, you can always print them out as needed…then use the back of them for scrap paper for working out math problems.
5. Shop as you go
I cannot stress this enough: do NOT buy everything you think you are going to need right away. Jake’s cyber school gave me a 11-page list of “materials not provided” for me to get. Thank goodness I read the message boards before buying it all, or I wouldn’t have needed a whole spare room just to hold everything! Other parents said that the list contains every last thing they would need if they were to do every single project and extra activity. Some classes have like three “alternate” activities. Other classes have projects but they aren’t mandatory. If Jake knows the objectives at the beginning of each class, I don’t make him jump through hoops to prove it or do the extra assignments to “learn it better.” That would be kind of like making you do all of the steps in a class on how to turn on your computer. Obviously you already know how to do it or you wouldn’t be here right now!
Most important of all, don’t fret! Don’t feel like you need this perfect dedicated schooling space in order for your child to get an education. You don’t need to sit at a desk. You don’t even need to sit in your house! Learning happens all around us. If you’re more comfortable teaching your kids through life experience, then go for it! As long as your kids are showing you that they can retain the information, you’re doing a fabulous job.
Do you homeschool or cyber school? I’d love to hear any tips you have for making the most of small spaces!