Inside: House too small to homeschool? I’ll show you the best homeschool organization ideas for small spaces to make it work.
I know I can’t be the only one homeschooling in a small house. There are five of us in a 1200 square foot house. I’m not complaining. Just pointing out that it can be done.
I’ve had to get creative over years and repurpose parts of the kitchen, bedrooms, and living room.
Homeschooling is a way of life for us, and I’ve accepted the fact that our house will not be “normal” again until the kids graduate, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a mess or take over the entire place.
I show you some great homeschool organization ideas for small spaces in this post. If you want to homeschool, but don’t think you have the room to do it, read on my friend. It’s about to get real.
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Table of Contents
Where to Homeschool?
Before I begin, let me put one idea to rest right now- You DON’T need a separate room to homeschool!
I know Pinterest would lead you to believe that every homeschooler in the world has a gorgeous, drool worthy schoolroom, but that’s not the case.
Yes, they’re out there and we’re jealous of them (but in a nice way 😁), but I personally don’t know a single homeschool family that has one.
If you don’t have an extra room in your house, welcome to the real world. Many of us don’t. We make do with the space we have.
So let’s talk about what you can do when you don’t have a homeschool room, or you do, and it’s tiny.
You may need to get resourceful. The following are ideas for taking a space and using it for two different purposes.
If you have a kitchen table, then you have a place for your children to do their work. During the day it can serve as your homeschool area and at dinner time when everything’s put away, it reverts to your dining area.
This is what we do. Here’s a picture of an 8-foot conference table we found at an auction. Is it beautiful? Nope! But I love it anyway.
Family Room Couch
Instead of a homeschool room, you have the homeschool living room. The couch is a favorite spot for curling up for a good read aloud. Snuggling up together on the sofa makes the time special and you can do it with your existing furniture.
My kids like to go in the living room and work by themselves too. They take the laptop and do their online work with headphones.
There’s no law that says everyone has to be at a desk. It’s what works best for your child and your family’s situation.
Not only do kids enjoy having a meal on a tv tray, but it also creates an instant desk anywhere you need it. You can pop one up at the couch, at the edge of a bed, and even on the back porch. It adds a bit of fun for your student and saves space because you can fold it up and put it away.
If you install a drop-down desk on the wall in your child’s bedroom, he can use it for personal and school time. We’ve put one in each of our girls’ rooms and they have been so useful. If they aren’t using them and need extra space, they can put them down and they’re out of the way.
Finding Unused Space
If you look hard enough, you’re bound to find some hidden areas in your home you could turn into a homeschool space. There are often nooks and crannies that are big enough to convert into a small learning area.
Here are some small homeschool room ideas:
At the end of your hallway, if there’s enough room, you can put a simple desk. Using a small minimalist desk, you can create a workspace for your child.
Under the Steps
If you have a set of steps, and the space is big enough, you can convert it into a little room. You could hang a sheet in the opening or leave it open. Put a desk and chair with some shelves and it’s a private study area.
Furniture that’s made to fit in a corner space is perfect for an unused corner in your home. You can find a desk with a hutch attached and add extra storage.
Repurposing Space for Homeschooling in a Small House
When we don’t have a lot of room, sometimes the only option is to repurpose a space. Yes, that means reorganizing and finding a new home for what is already in that space 😒, but I’m guessing if you’re like me, when you go through it, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to go.
Here are some places you might use:
I know space can be at a premium, but if you have a closet you can clean out, you can use a minimalist desk or hang a piece of counter top and turn it into a cute space. Often there’s already a top shelf there, which can store materials.
If you have a laundry room, does it have a counter where you fold clothes? Could you use it as a desk instead and put some shelves above on the wall? You could also put bins underneath.
You can divide a storage room in half and use one side for school. Put a little desk or table with a shelf or rolling cart and you’re set.
Finding furniture to fit in a small area can be tricky. I have put together a post on 23 of the best homeschool desks. There’s an entire section in there with ideas for small spaces. It has options for everyone.
Organization for Small Homeschool Rooms
Using pencils, markers, rulers, and other school gear is unavoidable. You need a system in place.
Here are some ideas for organizing homeschool supplies.
These are by far one of my favorite homeschool room ideas. They’re a terrific way to organize my children’s work, and there are several ways to use them in small spaces.
You can use a vertical cart with drawers, a metal shelf, and some people have even used a big pocket chart on the wall. You can read all about workboxes and see how they’ve transformed our homeschool.
Book towers can be used for more than just books. They can hold small baskets and bins and don’t take up as much space when you’re going vertical.
Bins can be stored underneath tables, up on shelves, or in closets. They hold a lot and can be used for multiple purposes.
You can rotate your bins each semester or year and also have one per child that holds their specific materials.
Placing art supplies and other small materials in a tool caddy in the middle of the table is a great way to keep things in one small area but also within reach of your students.
This helps them stay on task by not having to get up and search for something when they need it. It also keeps your space clean because they have a specific place to return everything when they’re done.
I love shelves with cubbies! Not only do they hide the mess, but they also look cute. You can label the baskets on the outside so kids know where to find and return things. If your child can’t read yet, use pictures instead of words. (Tip: Snap a picture of the item. Then print it out and laminate it. Attach to the basket.)
We use an old antique china cabinet in our kitchen that holds a lot of our homeschool materials. It’s worn and even has paint splotches on it (I like to call it Shabby Chic), but it holds a lot and looks like furniture that belongs in that room.
A cart on wheels is a fantastic way to hold school supplies, and you can move it around or push it in a corner when it’s not needed.
Book Organization Ideas
Books can take over your house! Most homeschoolers have this issue. We LOVE books and read a lot of them. Instead of having 10 bookshelves in your house, I’ve come up with some ideas over the years to cut down on the number of physical books we have.
In all the crannies and all the nooks.
Use Digital Books
If there’s a book you know you’re only going to read once and you’re using it as a read aloud and not a reference book, buy it in digital format.
Make Use of the Library
Use your library! Libraries have come a long way and even if they don’t have the physical books you need, they have digital books and audiobooks you can check out for free with your library card. Find out what your library has to offer..
Trade with Another Family
If you know other homeschool families (or if you’re part of a co-op), swap books with each other. This is not only a great way to save space, but also a way to save money.
Use the “1 in 1 Out” Rule
When You buy a new book, donate or give away one you’re not using any more. This keeps the numbers down.
Bookshelf That Doubles as End Table
Instead of bookshelves, try to find other creative ways to store your books. They make end tables with a place to store books. Another idea is an ottoman with a lid.
Hang book ledges in any room and get the books out of your living space and organized on a shelf. Plus, it’s just a cool idea! Be sure they are within arm’s reach of your kids if you want them to have access.
Seat sacks are a convenient way to store books and other materials out of the way. You can hang one on the back of each of your student’s chairs and they have easy access to their books, pencils, markers, and other essential items.
A rolling cart can hold the books your family’s using at the moment and be moved to whatever room you’re working in. You can rotate the books each quarter or semester.
Over the years, curricula can add up. Even materials for one year can be overwhelming. Below are some ideas on how to deal with it.
Bins for What’s Not Used
If you have room in your basement, attic, or storage room box up what you’re not using for the year and store it in bins. This keeps it out of the way and you can rotate what you need each year.
Sell When You’re Done
If you don’t plan to use something again, sell it. This is one way I make money for curriculum for the next year.
Use Online or Digital Versions When Available
To save space on your shelves, you can use the digital or online versions of curricula when it’s not necessary to have the physical product.
Keeping materials for portfolio reviews doesn’t have to take up a ton of space. You don’t have to save every single piece of paper. A reviewer is looking for progress from the beginning of the year to the end. If you save a sampling of work from the beginning, middle, and end of the year in each subject, along with grades, a reading log, and any pictures of projects or field trips you went on, that should be enough.
Master Homeschool Binder
A master homeschool binder holds all your important information in one place and allows you to stay organized. Using some simple homeschool record keeping printables, you can record all essential records easily and have it at your fingertips when you need it. A binder fits on a shelf and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Student Binder for Each Child
I keep a binder for each of my children. I make them responsible for checking off their attendance each day and putting loose papers in it under the correct subject tab.
I line them up on a small shelf and at the end of the week, they put their papers in. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and it keeps our little area clean and clutter free.
Many evaluators have started to move towards digital portfolios. It’s much easier than you think it is to do and saves a ton of space! No saving papers! It’s all saved on your phone (or computer).
I suggest you keep a backup of those pictures though in case the unthinkable happens and your child drops your phone in the toilet. Most people have things stored in a cloud these days or use Google Drive, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to retrieve the pictures if that happens.
Here’s a video showing how to put a digital portfolio together for your reviewer.
Bullet Journal for Homeschooling
If you love the idea of a bullet journal, you will love a bullet journal for homeschooling. You won’t believe what all you can track and record in ONE place! And you can do all your children in one book or if you prefer, have a journal for each.
Bullet journals are small, easy to store, and take up very little room. You can throw them in a bag and take them with you.
And no- you don’t have to be artistic to use one. They don’t have to be beautiful. Just functional.
Crate System for Filing
Another space saving way to organize materials is to use a crate. Be sure to get one that’s made for file folders. It has an extra lip around the edges for the hanging file folders to attach.
Put a file folder in for each week or month of the year and then add folders within those to hold papers. You can use different colors for each child.
The homeschool crate can hold:
- Samples of child’s work
- Worksheets needed for the entire year, organized by weeks or months- Pull them out as needed
- Any papers/records required by your state
Other Small Homeschool Room Ideas
When you’re short on space, there’s no need to have all your materials out. For example, if you plan on doing science for one semester and history the next, keep the one you’re not using in a bin in the basement or in a closet until needed. If you have a set of chapter books that go with a yearlong curriculum, only bring out the one you’re using at the moment and keep the rest on a shelf.
I’ve discussed this a little in another section, but anytime you can go vertical instead of horizontal with furniture and other materials, it’s going to save you tons of room.
Utilize Wall Space for Learning
An easy way to make homeschooling in a small space work is to use wall space. People often miss this opportunity.
Here are some materials you can hang on a wall:
- Pocket charts (Standard size, Small size)
- Small interactive bulletin boards
- Interactive calendars
- Wall charts
- Letter/number strips
- Post-it Dry Erase Whiteboard Film (which you can cut to whatever size you need)
- Educational artwork
- Reusable worksheets/cards that you laminate, hole-punched in the corner, and hang with a metal ring
Take Learning Outside
This last one isn’t so much about organization, but it helps when you don’t have a lot of space.
Often new homeschoolers forget that the outdoors is a wonderful classroom. It expands your homeschool area, inspires your children, and makes messes so much easier to clean up! In fact, I’m way more likely to let my kids do crazy science experiments, if I know it won’t destroy a room in my house.
Here’s my daughter doing the Mentos science experiment. There’s NO WAY that was happening in my house!
There are so many ways to use the outdoors as your classroom.
Some ideas are:
- Read alouds in a circle in the grass
- Independent reading in a swing on the porch
- Studying at a picnic table on the deck
- Nature walks in your backyard or neighborhood
- Sidewalk chalk on the driveway (math, spelling, writing, drawing)
- Weather observation
- Bird watching
- Measuring things outside
- Physical Education
- Play (which is a vital part of an education)
Conclusion About Homeschool Organization Ideas for Small Spaces
I’ve given you a lot of food for thought with all the homeschool organization ideas for small spaces. Hopefully what you’ve realized more than anything is that homeschooling is possible in any situation. Whether you live in a tiny apartment, small townhouse, or modest home, there are ways to make it work.
It may take a little creativity on your part, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles to give your children a wonderful education.
The most important aspect of a successful homeschool is a loving parent and the family bonds you create, and those don’t take up any space at all!
Get a list of ideas from this post on a simple cheat sheet!