Ask the Teacher: How to set up a homeschool classroom on a budget
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
Part 2-- ages seven to twelve
Hello everyone, as promised here is part two of how to set up a home school classroom on a budget. You really do not need much to teach your kids at home. This time for ages seven through twelve. If you are looking for my post on younger children you can find it here. So without further ado let's continue!
Pick a location!
Pick a location with a table where your child can comfortably work and make sure they have all the basic things they will need at that table. Kids will use "I need a pencil" as an excuse to run around for 20 minutes instead of actually doing school work. For me this has been an easy fix. I take old shoe boxes, have the kids wrap them in old wrapping paper and decorate them and then put all of their school supplies in the box. If you don't want to do the craft a basket works just as well. This way all they need to do is grab their box to do their work, even if they want to work on the floor or with a friend.
I make several different labeled "work boxes" at the beginning of the school year for the kids and each table gets one work box so several kids can share a box:
One that has Math supplies.
ruler, pencils, protractor, erasers, pencil sharpener calculator if your child is old enough, number lines and multiplication tables
One Writing and Social Studies box
Pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, crayons
One that has Art Supplies
pencil, erasers, colored pencils, crayons and markers. (you might want to add the paint and paintbrushes in here, I keep my paint very controlled and out of reach)
For me, this works well, even if there are duplicates in some of the boxes because then I know they always have what they need and never have crayons for math or markers for journals, which I personally hate because they bleed through the pages. You can combine boxes or sort them differently, however it works for your children and you.
Make sure the furniture Fits
If your kids are still growing into furniture and you do not have kid-sized tables make sure that your table is comfortable for them to sit at. A box under their feet and a booster seat or couch pillow so their hand's rest at the table is an easy way to help them. It's far more comfortable and helps your kids sit still longer. A general rule is that they should be able to sit so their feet are flat and their elbows are at table height, however you make this happen is up to you. I use these wiggle disks in my classroom, both to boost my kids a few inches and to help my wigglers sit since they allow them to squirm around. Apparently they are also a great exercise for adults so added bonus!
Set a timer
Kids have a limited attention span. Heck, today -I- have a limited attention span (YouTube videos anyone?) setting a timer will help them set aside other distractions for schoolwork. If they know that they only have to concentrate for another 15 minutes then can go run around in the backyard they will be more inclined to concentrate for that 15 minutes instead of feeling like the work is never-ending. Just an iPhone timer works or you can get an egg timer from your local dollar store. Whatever you have lying around will do the job, there are even timers you can find online just google them.
Turn off the internet if your child is using a computer
Download everything your child needs beforehand and then take away the internet unless they are doing a video conference call with their teacher and need it. Maybe it's a password or an app that turns off the internet for a specific amount of time, but it will help your child focus on schoolwork much better. Google docs do not need to be connected to the internet to work, no matter what they try to tell you, you can set it to offline mode and the data will save when you turn back on the internet.
Same thing applies to tablets with games on them. These are very tempting for children to use instead of schooling so try and lock them out while they are doing school if the kids are having trouble focusing.
Printers are not Necessary, Just Helpful
If your child's teacher is asking for them to do printed worksheets and you do not have a printer (Or can't afford to use the one you have because ink is insanely expensive) take a look at what the sheet is asking them to do. If it's a journal activity chances are you can just write the question on a blank sheet of paper draw some lines, leave a space at the top for them to draw and save yourself the ink price. You can even buy scribblers like this one that has thick lines and places for them to draw for grades one and two learners. Older children just need a standard scribbler.
If it's math questions make your child copy them into a scribbler. It will not hurt them to write out the questions again. If something really needs to be printed and you can not do it, contact the teacher. Perhaps there is another worksheet your child can do that will work for you. Teachers understand that they need to be flexible right now too. Most teachers will accept a photo of the work that kids are doing instead of a printer scan.
Ask for help when you need it
If you don't understand how to do the math or English your children are doing e-mail their teacher (or me I'll happily help) and ask them to explain it to you. The way we think about Math especially has changed since you and I were in grade school. Teaching it is no longer the same either. My Father has a PH.D in Mathematics and he was looking at the math for elementary and was confused. If someone with a PH.D doesn't understand you are in good company. If you are confused reach out. Your child's teacher will understand and not judge you.
Don't Stress and don't Quit
I get it you are very very stressed right now. Many people are starting to say "we can not possibly do this." I understand where they are coming from but also you have an amazing opportunity here too. You get to see your little ones learn and take the pride in their accomplishments that usually I get to take. That is an amazing feeling. Remember this will not be forever, soon I will be back in the classroom with 30 little people and it will be my job again to do math with them. Again don't worry if you don't get as much done as you would like. I will tell you a secret, I NEVER get as much done as I plan. Ever. It's all about figuring out what they can do and rolling with the things that take them longer.
Again, if you need help ask for it. You have a community at your back, they are just a phone call or e-mail away.