Organizational tips for creating a homework space or schoolroom in the dining room or any space in the house.
My kids have recently fallen in love with Mary Poppins’ music, and this former musical-theatre choreographer is loving it. We have been dancing to “Step in Time” all over the house and singing “Let’s go fly a kite” until we’re hoarse.
Talk about old school, quality entertainment.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my post the other day that I spent some serious time reorganizing the dining room, which doubles as our schoolroom.
What I didn’t share on that post is that I was literally whistling “Spoon Full of Sugar” while I was doing it… While the job may not have felt quite like a game (false advertising, Mary Poppins!), the task wasn’t quite as miserable as it could have been. 😉
And the result – an organized schoolroom ready for the fall to come – was totally worth it, and it seemed like the perfect thing to share with you today for the Back to School Style Guide hosted by sweet Amber Tysl.
Before I continue, let me say that my oldest attends a university model school, which is just a fancy way of saying he goes to school two days each week and we homeschool the other three. So I need a space that is first-grader friendly and can keep a 4 and 2 year old occupied. Plus, we’ll be doing pre-K type work with my 4-year-old in here, too. But even if your kids attend full-time school, having an organized space for homework can be so helpful.
Tip 1: Consider using your formal dining room as a schoolroom
We could have devoted a portion of the guest room or some other space upstairs to the schoolroom (which may yet happen as the kids get older and more independent in their studies), but for now, I can’t imagine a more logical space than the dining room. It’s right by the kitchen so I can keep up with housework, the dining table works perfectly for spreading out big projects, and the light we get in there is lovely.
BUT… it’s right by our front door and we actually like to eat in there sometimes, so organization is key (not to mention I’ve got some OCD going on, I admit).
Tip 2: Have one basket or bin for each kids’ books
Whatever room you use, this is so helpful. Not only does this keep them corralled, but it allows the kids to take more ownership of them. They can take them out and get ready to work, and they can also carry them outside or upstairs or to the kitchen we we have mobile schoolwork days. Plus, my 4 year old is not so great at keeping books properly aligned upright on a shelf, but he can put them in a basket.
Tip 3: Devote china cabinet space to art supplies
I realize that I have a large, traditional china cabinet (you can see how I made over my great grandmother’s dining furniture here if you’re interested), but you have to remember that I am a home decor blogger that comes from a family who passes down things like china and crystal…
Trust me when I say that if I can find space in my china cabinet for art supplies, you probably can, too. I have three different sets of china and countless napkins and props for photoshoots, but these shelves are reserved for coloring books and busy bags. And if you look down to the right, you’ll see where we store our poster board, too.
Tip 4: Use a silverware holder to organize pens/pencils/markers
I found this little thing at HomeGoods for $9.99. The pre-divided sections are perfect for supplies!
Tip 5: Don’t forget about vertical storage
See that pretty basket on top of my china cabinet? It’s full of paint, sharp scissors, and other art supplies that I do NOT want within reach of my toddler. It keeps it all in the same space but allows mom the control over those things.
Tip 6: Include a space for younger siblings to work
This little $5 thrift store table I painted has been the perfect spot to entertain the 2-year-old (and even the 4-year-old sometimes). We keep her alphabet puzzle and a bucket of crayons here all the time. Since she can reach the coloring books, she is set if she wants to “work” alongside her brothers.
Tip 7: Include a chalkboard
Honestly, I fought this for a while. We have so many windows downstairs (and I’m not complaining!) that we don’t have much wall space for art. These walls in the dining room are seriously almost my only ones in all our living spaces… So I wanted to display other things. But I found myself last year dragging in our IKEA easel chalkboard on a fairly regular basis… So I finally conceded defeated and built this one.
And I kind of love it.
I’m working on a full tutorial for it (it was easy and cheap!), but for now we’ll just say that I love the vintage school room vibe it gives without feeling awkward in the dining room.
Tip 7: Bring in another desk if possible
While the dining room table is a great place to work (and it may be your only option space-wise, I realize), I love having a separate space for my son to work. It allows him to focus (and keeps his sister from trying to color on his page or steal his pencil). This little vintage desk that I restored has been perfect for that.
And while our dining room doesn’t always look quite this pretty or clean…
I can honestly say that it doesn’t ever get too bad. If there is a place for everything, it doesn’t take long to put it all back. We still manage to eat dinner in here at least once a week, and I’m usually not embarrassed when people come to my door uninvited. 😉 I’d say that’s a win.
For more fun back to school style ideas, go visit my sweet friend Emily at Eleven Gables. This woman survives 4 boys in style and grace; I’m sure she has got some excellent back to school ideas for you today!