Won’t it be nice when you can finally visualize your school in action in the actual space you’ll be using? What a lucky building, to receive the honor of being your school! Of course, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Your students will love your school for what it is, not how cool the space is. After all, it’ll soon be plastered with inspirational posters and student artwork, right?
Find a space that doesn’t break the bank
Your first challenge is finding a physical location to meet every day for school. We’ve found that some of the best spaces aren’t necessarily looking for tenants, but they have extra space during the day. Think Sunday school rooms in churches, for example. If they’ll let you use their space, you’ll likely pay less than you would elsewhere, and they’ll have some unexpected income. It’s a win-win.
As you’re scoping out sites, keep in mind a few key points:
- Location. Especially if you’re in a larger city, the area of town you choose will have a big impact on the types of students who will attend your school.
- Ease of access. Within the area you’ve chosen, it’s helpful if your school will be close to a major road. Three miles away on the freeway is more convenient than three miles of stop signs and windy roads.
- Outside space. Playing outside has a significant, positive effect on how well young people learn. There doesn’t have to be a playground – kids are creative – but it’s a huge plus to have a safe outside area you can use.
- Kitchen access. Assuming your students will be eating lunch at school, you’ll need a place to store and prepare food.
Once you’ve identified a few good possibilities, contact the landlord, or just go inside to ask about it. Brush up on your trusty financial projection before you go into the meeting so you have an idea of what you’d ideally spend on rent and how much wiggle room you have in the budget. Be ready to negotiate!
Find functional furniture
Desks and chairs are nice to have, but there’s no reason to go overboard here. Kids are pretty adaptable, as long as each student has a place to work independently. You’ll also need a place to have group discussions and work on projects, so set up a few tables or a common gathering area. After the first week or two, you’ll have a much better idea of what works well for your particular students, and you can always go get it once you know what you need.
Go find the reality of your dreams
Take a drive around town and notice what unoccupied spaces you might be able to use. Tell your friends you’re looking for a space, and get the word out. Don’t be discouraged if the perfect place seems elusive, just keep turning over rocks until you find what you’re looking for.