Typical elementary school classrooms are full of bright colors and neatly organized materials. Teachers create a stimulating learning environment to keep their students mentally engaged. When Covid-19 hit, and my children were forced to begin our homeschool experiment I quickly realized that our home was certainly not a classroom.
We live in a space-limited apartment. There is not much room for desk space especially when two children and I are all working from home. This left me with the challenge of optimizing the space I have available for learning. Here are several tips I used when creating a home work space for my kids with limited available space.
With limited space, you need to make sure every inch is properly utilized. When setting up a child friendly work space you want to ensure the area is:
- Well Lit
- Distraction Free
Bright Minds need Bright Lights
In my home thankfully we have a lot of natural light from windows. Placing the boys’ desks near the window has both benefits and disadvantages.
The natural light from the windows allows my boys to see their work clearly. However, it potentially can become a distraction if other things are going on outside. If you place your desk by a window, make sure the windows are high enough to prevent your child from peeking out frequently or cover the window with a light curtain that is able to be closed and still allow some of the light to come through.
Block out Distractions: Gotta Keep ‘em Separated
Both of my children have issues with processing information when they are over stimulated be it by noise or just watching each other. In our apartment, since space is limited, I was not able to set up workspaces that completely separate the boys from distractions. My intellectually disabled son works best when he is isolated and extremely limited of sensory distractions, so I set his work space up in their bedroom. If he is bothered by noise in our complex, I can close his door as an extra buffer from noise. My oldest son has ADHD and I need to keep him on track. Setting up his desk in the living room gives me easy access to him, but we had to deal with the issue of noise from me walking through the apartment. A room divider allowed me to create a cozy workspace just for him and headphones took care of the noise issue. If you are unable to find a divider screen, try using:
- Trash bags/ Plastic tarp
When the boys were younger, I even used a small tent as a calm down space. I think this would be a great place for homeschooled children to work individually with minimal distractions.
What a Mess: Stay Organized
My children are a bit older and only one still plays with toys. However, it was not long ago that my whole house felt like it was drowning in toys…especially Legos! Those things somehow pop up everywhere.
A major issue for me was keeping school things and play things apart. We have two bookshelves in our home, but unfortunately, they both were already full of books, so what could I use to hold supplies?
I purchased several utility shelves with plastic drawers and designated them for either school or play things. These drawers were light weight enough to carry up the stairs of our apartment and inexpensive. I was able to easily label the contents and as a bonus they provided extra space for the boys to work on. Other things you can use for storage are:
- Plastic tubs or shoe boxes
- Cardboard boxes (Great for Art supplies!)
- Landry hampers
Setting up a school space in a small environment can be difficult. Using these DIY tips will allow you to create a condensed and engaging learning space without spending a lot of money.