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Homeschool environments come and go but learning is a constant. I truly believe learning can happen anywhere and having a dedicated homeschool room, while nice, doesn’t happen to work in our space (hey we live in a 730 sq ft apt in DC) or for my ADHD kid. He needs variety.
And… he needs distraction free. My current DIY homeschool room ideas which, I have incorporated into our small ADHD space over the last year, are not nearly as beautiful as my DIY homeschool room ideas were when he was a toddler and I was in full-on Montessori mode. But, I think I’ve learned a lot and these fit, as much as possible, our son at this stage. With his low executive functioning skills, impulse control, and limited room, I needed to get a little creative with supplies and storage options. For now, we are happy with our space and it seems to be working well for everyone in the family. My son even came up with a few (very useful!) improvements himself.
Our current DIY homeschool room ideas
Keep wall decorations and posters to a minimum
I used to load our tiny homeschool “classroom” with a calendar, art, a map, and white board and posters. After a rearranging sessions, I realized I enjoyed having less stuff on the walls and my son was less distracted by trying to figure out the specific day or surprising me with a quick “scribble-scrabble” on the whiteboard when I asked him to select a book from the self. But, the truth is, our “classroom” is not much of a classroom but rather a holding place for the things we want to help us learn. So, now, instead of the classic whiteboard, calendar and posters, we reserve our walls for specific projects we are proud of and want to display for a set period of time before resetting our walls to a blank slate.
Hang a Magazine Organizer for self-directed activity books
I can’t remember where I came up with this idea but it was the first of my DIY homeschool room ideas when we officially decided to homeschool. A magazine rack hangs next to my desk and is great way to organize my son’s activity books. By displaying them in this manner, I’ve noticed he is more likely to select one to work on during his alone time.
Display and Rotate books on your shelf
I like to use these wooden mini easel stands to display a select number of books I want my son to notice. Displaying and rotating the books on a regular basis keeps holds his interest and engages him a little more than when the books are laying flat or filed away. when not in use, I store the easels in a Kirigen Storage Basket on a separate shelf. For this DIY homeschool room idea, I turned one of our Ikea Billy Bookshelves on it’s side.
Create a clutter-free art area (less-is-more for the ADHD Kid)
I used to drool over abundant art spaces neatly packed with unlimited supplies, simultaneously observing my blood pressure rise as I scratched my head over yet another failed system in our space. You know those little wheely art carts that everyone seems to be using? I kept thinking I would find a way to make one of those work. I mean they seem SO practical! But, as I looked around, I imagined a crammed full cart shoved in a random corner (or, wait… did our apartment even HAVE a workable corner?!) with supplies haphazardly spilling out the side or, perhaps scattered around the living area because we couldn’t FIND the darn cart which might had mysteriously (and impulsively) wondered off at 5:30 AM when the parents were desperately clinging to the notion of sleep.
For the course of several months I…
* fumbled with containers and labels: an overwhelming request for a classic ADHD, low executive functioning kid, a jumbled mess, and a stressed out mom who spent her days organizing and reorganizing in a futile attempt of “training” her offspring.
* tried a caddy, placed on a high shelf reserved for adults: a precariously stacked “mountain” for climbing to get the coveted “off-limit” items!
* left supplies neatly arranged in baskets and trays on a flat shelf: an inefficient use of coveted shelf space leaving little room for books, science, math, and other materials.
While looking at old photos of our Montessori set up (pre-move to DC), I paused on a photo of a wall filled with those little ikead spice racks everyone has been turning into bookshelves. I admit, we were a trend follower but, there, among the hand-selected children’s books, was a random, misplaced container of washable paint.
Despite not wanting to overwhelm our space with supplies, I knew those popular spice racks would be too small for our art needs. After much research, I settled on these handsome 22.25″ rustic state floating shelves with rail, not only freeing up shelf space, but also freeing up floor space by not adding another solid standing shelf. In choosing individual hanging shelves, we have created a more open feel to our area. And by storing excess art supplies in a closet, we have given breathing room to the shelves. Because the shelves are immobile, and because the supplies are not forbidden (ok, I still control the stapler, tape and few other things which get too much abuse if left out), our system requires only minimal amounts of reorganizing from mom.
This is my absolute favorite out of all my DIY homeschool room ideas.
Leave breathing room on the shelves
Okay, so it may not exactly be one of my DIY homeschool room ideas but I like displaying books, learning materials, and art supplies, so they are easily visible. Leaving breathing room on the shelves helps things feel simpler and less clutter. Sure, it take a bit of work to not overpack the shelves but with a little creative arranging, you will have a beautiful space that helps your ADHD kids (and possible you) feel less overwhelmed and more grounded. The idea of “breathing room” on shelves, is a concept I am borrowing from the beautiful Montessori shelf concept.
Use varying height shelves for visual interest
We had a couple of Ikea Billy shelving units but they didn’t quite fill the wall I had in mind for our home learning area so I turned one on it’s side to better use the space. I love the visual and open feel and additional top shelf space it provides in the room. In addition to my space challenge, our bookshelves were not all the same color: one brown and two white. To solve this problem, I painted the end two shelves the same blue as our accent walls and left the shelf in the middle white.
Have a tall shelf for teacher materials
While I keep our overflow craft supplies and activity books in my bedroom closet, I like to have easy access to everyday teacher books, such as our All About Reading, What Your Second-Grader Needs To Know, and my binders. Having a tall shelf allows me to do exactly this. For this DIY homeschool room idea, I painted the shelf the same color as my accent wall to match the shelf on the other side.
Utilize a filing system for papers
I used to organize our blank paper, construction paper, felt etc. in an Ikea flat filling square with pull out shelves. While we still have this, I have transitioned the bulk of our paper filing to a hanging filing system (which doubles up as my office chair) which seems to work better for my son. We also have a folder in there for all his finished work (art etc.). I let him know to only put work in there he is proud of and, at the end of each year I go through the folder and determine what to keep for our yearly portfolio and what to toss.
Use bins and trays
Separate your kids desk
This one was entirely my son’s idea! Since my desk (which hangs in the same area next to his), is situated at the bottom of a wall of hanging shelves, I naturally, tucked his little Ikea table under his shelves. Over time, I noticed it got less and less use, gradually turning into to a lazy-man’s storage system. When prompting him to clean his desk he would huff and slowly being picking my scabbed pride with his resistance. One one such downer of an interaction, a shout of excitement shot through the air as he burst around the snake plant which roughly separated our work area, little desk in hand.
“I’m rearranging mom!” he beamed. “If I put my desk here, there will be less distraction!” My little guy was onto something brilliant. Six months later, the desk remains quietly nestled around the snake plant, getting lots of use, and remaining surprisingly clean in between.
What are some ways you are engaging your kids in the organizing process to do what works… for them?
How have you organized your homeschool supplies? What has worked and what hasn’t? Leave a comment with your DIY homeschool room ideas. I’d love to see your space!
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