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How I organized my Montessori-inspired homeschool room as an ADHD family on a budget


Courtesy of Theresa Barber

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 05/26/23

If you find yourself setting up a homeschool room and looking for ideas, here's how I set up this learning space for our family.

You don’t need a dedicated school room to do a great job homeschooling. 

For the first six years of homeschooling my kids, I used some of my kitchen cabinets to hold their school supplies, and kept their school books on the kitchen counter. It was a little crowded but I made it work.

We moved recently, however, and in our new home, we decided to forgo having a separate dining room so we could use that space as a homeschool room. I count my blessings every day that we have the space to do this!

When I realized that I would actually have a school room for the first time, I became slightly obsessed with combing through Pinterest for homeschool room organization ideas (like this gorgeous Narnia-themed school space!). 

In case that sounds familiar, I figured I would share how I organized my homeschool room. 


1Montessori Ideas: Child-size furniture, art, and projects

I’m not trained as a Montessori teacher, but I am trained as a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist, and I’ve read Maria Montessori’s books. I don’t follow a Montessori philosophy strictly, but I try to embrace her learning method for my young kids as much as I can.

The Montessori approach gives children a lot of agency and independence, and the environment is their size.

So I set up our homeschool room with the following Montessori-inspired things:

  • Low shelves to hold the children’s “work” (art supplies, puzzles, crafts, books, educational toys and activities) 
  • Bags, boxes, and trays separate the work so my kids can get out just one thing at a time and “restore their work” (Montessori-speak for “put it away”) when they’re done using it
  • A child-size table with little chairs
  • Clipboards and open floor space, so my kids can move around the room freely, working on the floor or at the tables
  • Beautiful art we are studying for school hung at their eye level
  • A shelf with a small home altar or “oratory” for prayer
home altar oratory
Our small home altar where we pray in the homeschool room

Because I have toddlers, I do keep some art supplies (glue, scissors, dry erase markers, Sharpies, tape, etc.) on high shelves out of reach. My older children can get these things down when they want to use them. I also generally don’t let my toddlers in the school room without supervision.

2ADHD Ideas: Clear, visible organization, and movement

One of my children and myself have ADHD diagnoses. Essentially this means we forget something exists if we can’t see it. Visual organization really helps us, and we like being able to move around the room freely. 

So I set up our homeschool room with the following ADHD-friendly things:

  • A long table where I lay out the next day’s schoolwork by child and subject. It looks messy, but it really helps me to see exactly what we are doing each day.
  • A white board on which I write out our daily work and erase each subject as we finish it
  • Minimal furniture so the kids can move around the room, work on the floor with clipboards, and take movement breaks or bounce on the exercise ball
  • Mini white boards so my kids can move around the room to work on writing or math
  • Noise canceling ear protection so my kids can tune out noise while working
Our homeschool room after a busy day of learning with toddlers in tow

3Budget ideas: Thrifted and handmade supplies

You might be looking at this list and thinking “How did she afford that?!” We are on a budget, like most people, and it was a lot less expensive than it sounds. 

Almost all the furniture in our school room was either secondhand or free. Those low shelves? They’re made out of an entertainment center that my husband picked off the side of the road and rebuilt. The kids’ low table? A friend passed it down to us when her kids outgrew it. My work table? Facebook marketplace. The cute trays and boxes? They came from the thrift store. You get the idea. 

The kids’ educational “works” were gradually added as gifts from relatives for birthdays and Christmas. Most of our school books are from thrift stores or the library.

We slowly added these items, one at a time, over the past six years of homeschooling. It’s been a labor of love, but so worth it.


Our homeschool room always looks like a mess, with creative projects covering every surface and little people busily at work all over the floor. But in spite of the creative chaos, it’s my favorite room in our home. 

I’ve had a lot of fun setting up our schoolroom in the best way for our family’s specific needs. I’m so grateful we have this space to learn together.

EducationHomeschoolingParentingPope Francis
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