Inside: A tour of our homeschool room for young children and sharing my homeschool room ideas, supplies and tips.
Creating this homeschool room is one of the best decisions I made as a parent.
This space inspired many joyful learning moments with my children.
This space also encouraged countless hours of independent play and learning.
There is little wonder why this is my children’s favorite room at home and they can spend every day in this room learning, creating and playing.
In this blog post, I am giving a tour around our homeschool room I created when my two kids were still a toddler and a young preschooler (1.5 and 3.5 years old respectively).
We lived in a 2 bedrooms apartment and used one of the bedrooms as our homeschool room. The children are sleeping in our bedroom which is not a long term plan. But we loved this space so much that we decided that our children needed this homeschool room more than their bedroom for now.
I know the option of using a bedroom does not work for many of you. If you can't commit a room, don't fret.
You can still carve a perfect learning corner in your home.
Read on to pick out ideas that work for your space!
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What's in this preschool homeschool room?
In this room, we have:
1) A learning shelf
On this shelf, we have learning materials like hands-on toys, DIY learning toys, puzzles and books. Once every month for 1 to 2 weeks, we do theme-based unit study and I'll switch out everything on this shelf for our themed activities.
In the photo below, we have our Apple Theme Learning Shelf with several apple theme learning activities and books. Once my children are done with these apple themed activities, we'll end this themed unit study and replace them with other learning materials on this shelf.
Our learning shelf is the Billy bookcase from Ikea. This is an affordable shelf with good amount of space for multiple children to use the shelf at the same time. I placed the activities for my toddler (my daughter was 1.5yo in these photos) at the lowest level of the shelf. Activities for my preschooler (my son was 3.5yo son in these photos) are at the higher levels.
2) An art shelf
Our art shelf is the 2x4 Kallax shelf from Ikea. I like a tall shelf to keep materials that require adult supervision on the higher levels of the shelf and out of reach from my younger toddler.
Everything else placed at the lower levels are fully accessible to them all day. Because of the accessibility of their art supplies and learning materials, creating and learning have become a natural part of our everyday life. The art shelf and learning shelf have given my children so much independence to make art and learn any time of the day.
Here's what we have on this art shelf:
- On Level 4 of the shelf, we have Perler beads, sequins, buttons, glitter and any small items that should be out of reach from my young toddler.
- On Level 3, we keep our washable tempera paints, watercolour paint pan set, palettes, paint cups and rags. Playdough and play dough tools are also at this level.
- On Level 2, there are washable markers, paint sticks, colour pencils, glue sticks, kids' scissors (if you are not comfortable with your young children using scissors and glue independently, place them out of reach too) and a kids Spirograph set. We also have paper punches, paint brushes, dot paint markers and washi tapes.
- On the bottom level of the shelf, we keep a tinkering basket for all the recyclables like TP rolls, egg cartons, pieces of cardboard, popsicle sticks and wooden blocks.
- Also on the last level, we have some activity books, sticker books, doodling books and jigsaw puzzles.
- On the side of the shelf, I attached a magazine rack to store paper (white paper, recycled paper, construction paper and painting paper).
3) Small kid's tables and chairs
These LÄTT tables and chairs from Ikea are small and great for toddlers and a small homeschool room. We have these tables placed against the wall to save space when they are not in use or if my children prefer to work alone. When working on projects together, we move the tables out to the center of the room.
4) A Lego shelf
This is a little space to display my 3.5 son's Lego creations. In the big blue tray below, we have all the loose bricks where he can use to build freely with. I chose a big tray (vs sorting by colors or brick types) for my son as it makes clean up easy and straightforward for him.
The sorting tray on top of the blue tray is used for keeping any work-in-progress. The basket at the bottom level is where we keep all the instruction manuals.
Young children enjoy working on the floor. Floor play helps in the development of their muscles and also build spatial awareness in them.
To encourage more time on the floor, I intentionally leave a huge part of the room in the center free of any furnitures. And to contain all the mess while they work on messy art projects on the floor, we have these foam mats and big trays.
Check out this post for my big tray recommendations: Why You Absolutely Need Big Trays in your Home Learning Space
Think of the foam mats and trays as double bagging the mess. They have saved my carpet SO many times from paint, play dough, slime, everything!
6) A floor table
To encourage a better posture, I got this little floor table for my son to write and draw on while he sits on the floor.
7) Book baskets
Books are the one of the easiest and best ways to ignite curiosity. While our main collection of books are on a bookshelf in the living room, I have some book baskets in our preschool homeschool room.
Every week, I'll change the books in these baskets. Having fresh selection of books definitely encouraged my children to check out the books in the baskets regularly and nurture their love of reading. Lay a blanket and make this space comfortable and inviting!
8) And lastly, a resource and toy cupboard.
It’s actually a wardrobe that is used to store all my learning materials, craft supplies and extra toys I keep away for toy rotation. If you like to see how I organize my huge stash of resources, check out this video.
Bonus: Join my mailing list and download this free guide: 9 Simple Ways to Spark a Love of Learning in your Children. Get this guide now>>
What makes a good homeschool room for young children?
1) Accessibility to Materials
Accessibility to age appropriate materials was the key consideration when I set up this preschool homeschool room. I want my young kids to be able to help themselves to materials and supplies they needed for their learning and art projects. For my young children, I used low shelves and kid friendly furnitures to ensure that the kids-safe materials are within their reach.
This encourages autonomy and independence in young children, they won't be calling me every 5 minutes for another piece of paper.
If my son wants to do some counting, he can pick up the tray with the counting activity from the learning shelf and work on counting on his own. If my daughter wants to cut some paper, she knows where to find a pair of scissors and papers.
2) Inviting, stimulating but not overwhelming
From my own experience in creating our preschool homeschool room, I witnessed what a thoughtfully designed and well organized environment can do: it invokes curiosity and stimulates the little minds. So the second key consideration for our learning space is that it is inviting for children to explore and spark their love of learning, but at the same time, it's important to find that balance such that they are not overwhelmed by too many choices.
Shelves keep all the materials organized and tidy. Every activity, toy or material has a spot on the shelves which makes them inviting to use and also makes clean up easy for young children.
To ensure that there are not too many activities on the shelf at one time, I rotate the activities and keep the extra ones in our resource cupboard.
What do my kids love most about their homeschool room?
Whenever we have a new themed learning shelf, they will be most excited about the new activities on the shelf.
For the rest of the time, I’m guessing that my kids’ answers will be Legos and paint for my 3.5yo and play dough for my 1.5yo. Their favorite things change along the way as they pick up new skills or have different learning needs.
Beside these materials and toys, I think my children are really loving the freedom and independence to create/learn or play with everything on the shelves throughout the day.
Question: Is our homeschool room also a playroom?
Our homeschool room is not our play room. We have a small play area in our living room. There are several reasons why I did not combine our homeschool room and play room.
- My children love to be near me. The living room is right beside my kitchen while the homeschool room is at another corner of our apartment. The play corner in our living room is a strategic space for my children to play independently while I'm preparing meals in the kitchen.
- The play area in the living room is great for play dates as the adults can hang out in the living room and watch their children play.
- When we have visitors with babies or young toddlers visiting us, I can easily close the door of our homeschool room to keep it out of bounds.
Any final tips for parents who like to set up a homeschool room for young children ?
1) Start small
If setting up a learning/art room or is overwhelming, start with a shelf, a trolley or just an activity basket with learning and art supplies. You don’t need an entire room or a lot of space.
A bigger homeschool room is not necessarily better. A small learning corner is better than none. With some inspiration and creativity, any corner of your home, large or small can be transformed into a perfect learning space for your children.
2) Be comfortable with the materials you offer
Provide materials to your kids that you are comfortable with. If you are feeling stress about the potential mess, have a clean up plan in mind or offer the materials when you are ready to handle the mess. If you are uncomfortable with your young kids handling scissors independently, put them out of reach for now.
Also, introduce these new materials in small batches. The kids need time to learn to handle new materials and we adults also need time to manage kids with their new found materials. And of course, get a tray to contain all the mess!
3) Establish clear and simple rules
A crucial step to create a 'Yes' learning space for my children is to establish clear rules with them. Children learn what behavior is and isn't OK in the learning space. The caveat with this tip is that with young children, you can only give them 1 to 3 simple and straightforward rules.
For my children, I only have 3 rules for them:
- Any items not within your reach, you need an adult's permission to use them.
- Use a tray when working on any art projects.
- Clean up after you complete your project/ activity.
If you are still worried about a young child who might pull down everything from the higher levels, you might want to 1) keep everything that's not age appropriate out of sight (e.g. in the cupboards or storeroom) and 2) limit the materials you have on the shelf.
4) Spend time in the homeschool room with your children
You develop strong bonds with your children and help them feel safe in their learning environment. Even just 15 to 30 minutes each day goes a long way to help young children develop the skills and confidence for independent creative play. In addition, taking time to observe them gives you a good idea of their fast-changing developmental and learning needs and you will be able to change the set up/materials to cater to them better.
5) Join The Happy Learning Space course!
This is my 6 weeks online course where I teach parents everything they need to know to create an engaging and nurturing Home Learning Space for children.
“….the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings. Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in. Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can.”Maria Montessori