Joni Lay is the mother to four girls, and she runs the website, where she shares interior design inspiration. Like many parents this last spring, she had to school her children at home for the first time, so she created a homeschool space and routine for her kids. Atlanta Parent talked to her about how to create a separate school space or homework area for your kids.

How did you make a school space for your kids this past spring?

We already had an art/craft area for our girls, so it worked well to be able to use that space for school. I really enjoyed leaning into it, and I found that my girls really appreciated having a dedicated space that felt like it was meant for schoolwork.

A few key things that really helped were having a little rolling cart for them to have their own “cubby,” a little chalkboard where I would write the menu for lunch and the times for any class/Zoom calls, and I also hung up a photo I took of them together (like a class photo), and they loved all of those details which made it really feel like a little school.

What school items were especially helpful?

  • The 3-Tier Rolling Cart from The Container Store, where each of my girls had one of the shelves for their little cubby.
  • I also got them each a set of Jelly Comb Headphones from Amazon, as I quickly realized it was distracting when one of them had a Zoom call or had to watch a lesson online.
  • I also got a DuKabel Headphone Splitter from Amazon, so that my four-year-old (who desperately wanted to do school, but wasn’t old enough!) could watch some of the lessons with her big sister(s).
  • Starting each day with the pledge and a story or devotional, and writing the lunch menu and schedule on a MALA chalkboard from IKEA made them feel like we were really doing school, and they loved it.

What helped you designate the space as specifically school-related?

I leaned into it by hanging their “class photo” on the wall (which they loved!), and making sure the space was neat for each morning and writing a schedule on the chalkboard went a long way. It seems like small things, but I discovered after a week that the attention to those details made them feel more like it was school.

Do you have any advice to make learning at home successful?

  • Not every house can have a room dedicated to school, but find ways to make the school day feel “official” for your kids to help them stay motivated. A morning routine was hugely helpful.
  • I would serve them a mid-morning snack, and writing the school menu on the chalkboard was a fun detail they loved. I even have vintage cafeteria trays for serving lunch, and it honestly makes it more fun for me, too, which I think is important. Figure out things that make it easier/more fun for you to lean into it, because it can definitely get exhausting.
  • Lastly, if you can’t actually dedicate a room or space for school, the cart from The Container Store is really fun, and they loved organizing their school things and keeping it neat. Since it’s on wheels, it can easily be tucked into a closet or moved into another space as needed.

Where to Shop for Kids

We have a lot of pieces from Crate and Kids that we love (our craft table is from there!), but you can also find more affordable pieces at Target that work really well, too. We have a little children’s desk that I found at a thrift store for $25, which is where my oldest does her computer work.

Here are some other places that will help you fill your space:

  • The Container Store: Shop organizational items, storage containers, office supplies, dry erase boards, office chairs, notebooks, planners and more. They also have projects, inspiration and tips on how to organize spaces for kids, store toys, manage a household and more.
  • Pottery Barn Kids: This stylish store has play tables and chairs, beanbags, bookcases, storage, desks and more for creating a cute space for your kids. Shop their favorite characters from Disney, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Harry Potter and more for backpacks, lunchboxes, thermoses and water bottles.
  • Crate and Kids: Part of Crate and Barrel, this kids’ shop has supplies for an at-home art studio or a study space, with bookcases, tables, chairs and more. Decorate their separate space with activity charts, coloring posters, removable wallpaper and wall décor.
  • Target: Target has a lot of cute items for kids, including desks, chair and table sets, storage cubbies, bookcases and more, along with fun items for them to make it their own, like character lamps, wall décor and more.
  • IRIS USA: This company has storage items, cubbies, bookshelves, baskets, drawers and more in different styles and colors to make organizing a space easier.
  • Overstock: Shop Overstock for desks, table and chair sets, storage and more, and check out their tips and inspiration for a buying guide, decorating ideas and more.
  • Design Life Kids: This online boutique has stools, tables, chairs, office supplies and more.
  • 2Modern: 2Modern focuses on modern design and has eco-friendly selections. Their kids section includes tables, chairs, bookshelves, beanbags and more.

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