When we made the decision to homeschool four of our five children, we knew it would be a big undertaking but we were also very excited about it. Two were in elementary school at the time and two in middle school. Because each pair was close in age, they would be doing very similar curriculums. So I needed to plan for the younger two, as well as for the older two.
How to Turn Your Home Into a Fun Learning Center
I gathered things like games, maps, flash cards, lots of paper and supplies, as well as a globe, math tools and even learning video games and we organized all of this in the designated space that we would now use as our “learning center”. We hung visual aids on the wall and they also set the tone for a great space to learn. When the kids entered this space, they knew what it would be time to do. So here’s how we did it.
Where I Got Supplies
To have a fun learning center, you’re going to need some supplies. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I got as many things for free or cheap as possible.
Here are some places where I found supplies:
• Dollar Tree – There are other dollar stores too, and they can all save you money the Dollar Tree specifically has teacher supplies like stickers, learning pads, wall hangings and so much more. I found so many great things here for the younger ones, especially. I also found boxes and bins for organization, index cards, pencils, pens, and nearly everything you can think of in terms of office supplies and organization. If you have one in your area, it’s definitely worth checking out.
• Freecycle – I love Freecycle for a variety of reasons and when I posted to my local Freecycle group that I was looking for supplies for a homeschool learning center, I actually found a lot of people who were looking to unload stuff they didn’t need anymore.
• Friends and family – Similar to Freecycle, when you put the word out to friends and family that you’re looking for certain things, they will often volunteer stuff they know longer need, or even pitch in and buy some new things for you.
• Homeschooling groups – If you are part of a homeschool group, you may be able to get some supplies from here. Many groups trade items or give away items and supplies they no longer need so this is a great opportunity as well.
How We Organized Our Space
We had a big enough house but with a large family (seven of us in total) we didn’t have any spare rooms or guest rooms. We decided to use our dining room to create a homeschool space for the kids. You can do the same thing with a garage, a basement, or even an extra living room or den. It’s all about finding a way to make the most use of the space you already have. If you don’t have any extra rooms or areas, you can use a living room or kitchen/dining room, and just create a dual-use space. This means you can still use the room for its intended purpose but you can also make it your learning center.
I lined the walls with Ikea-style box shelves and we placed organized bins inside them. We used labels to mark the different bins so it would be easy to put everything back in its place as well as find it in the first place. We then used the dining table as our work surface. Before dinner time, everything could be put back in its place and we had plenty of space to work with.
Also published on Medium.