Attending school from home isn’t a new idea, but it’s become a sudden necessity for a lot of kids and parents. You don’t have to set up a dedicated schoolwork area via a remote connection, but take it from someone who’s worked from home for over a decade—it helps a lot.
We’ve selected a few essential tools to set up an inexpensive computer desk for remote school (or work) on a shoestring budget. Assuming you already have a computer your child can use, the rest of the items on this list will help him or her buckle down and study in comfort.
If you don’t already have a computer, we can help you with that, too.
At this writing, the combined price of the items below on Amazon is just under $400. With so many people transitioning to working or learning from home, though, these could change rapidly. However, you can probably find substitutions if the prices increase beyond your budget.
A Sturdy Desk
You’ll want a desk or table set aside just for school time. Just about anything flat will do, including a folding card table, if you’re desperate.
If, however, you want something a little more permanent, designed specifically for working for hours at a time, this sturdy table with a faux wood finish will do the trick. At 40 inches wide, it’s big enough to spread out, but not so big you’ll struggle to find a place for it in a crowded house or apartment.
amzdeal Computer Desk 39.4",Study Writing Desk for Home Office,PC Laptop Notebook Modern Design Study Writing Table for Home Office Workstation,39.4"x19.7"x29.5" (A-Vintage Brown)
This 40-inch-wide table is big enough for a kid to spread out, but small enough to fit in a shared living space.
An Exercise Ball for a Chair
Even the comfiest chair starts to wear on you after a few hours. I’ve found using an exercise ball instead builds up my core muscles and allows me to move around more while I work.
One of these should be excellent for fidgety kids trying to focus on a lesson. Just pay close attention to the sizing guide and make sure your kid will be able to sit on it!
Black Mountain Products 2000-Pound Anti Burst Exercise Stability Ball with Pump, 45cm, Black
A fun alternative for fidgety kids.
A Monitor for Easy Reading
Reading or watching lessons for hours on a small laptop screen is straining, even for a child. So, bust out an HDMI cable and let them watch on a big Dell LCD instead.
You can simply plug the laptop into the monitor so your child can use that screen instead. Or, they can use both screens to boost productivity. Of course, if you already have a desktop computer, you already have a monitor, as well. In that case, you can skip this entry and save some coin.
Dell 24 Inch PC Monitor SE2419Hx IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080) Monitor, Black
This 24-inch Dell monitor is a great addition to any computer setup.
A Mouse and Keyboard for Long Study Sessions
Even the nicest laptop can’t replicate the speed and comfort of a dedicated keyboard and mouse. This set isn’t the fanciest, but it comes with Logitech reliability and is wireless, to boot.
The dedicated media buttons are a nice bonus, and the mouse is also ambidextrous.
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo - Keyboard and Mouse Included, Long Battery Life
This wireless set is incredibly affordable and includes a few extras.
A USB Microphone for Clear Communication
A laptop’s webcam is probably fine for learning remotely. But its microphone? Well, that’s another story, as manufacturers often cheap out on those.
This dedicated microphone will allow your child to communicate with her teacher loud and clear. Plus, the setup is easy as can be: just plug and play (no drivers required). It even comes with its own stand.
USB Microphone, Piy Painting Cardioid Recording Microphone, 192kHz/24bit Condenser Mic Compatible with PC Laptop Mac Windows, Plug&Play Computer Microphone for Podcasting, Gaming, Streaming-D08
This affordable option will ensure your child's teacher can hear her loud and clear.
If you already have some of the items above, or you can stretch the budget a bit further, you might want to consider some of the items below.
I swear by my standing desk for long workdays. You can adjust the height of this small, hand-cranked model if you have multiple kids in the house.
DEVAISE Adjustable Height Standing Desk, 55 inch Sit Stand Up Desk Workstation with Crank Handle for Office Home, Black
You can adjust this desk to multiple heights for multiple kids.
If your child will be learning in a shared space, we recommend some decent headphones, too. This Anker set works with either Bluetooth or (when the battery runs out) a direct headphone cable.
Anker Soundcore Life Q10 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Over Ear, Foldable, Hi-Res Certified Sound, 60-Hour Playtime, Fast USB-C Charging, Deep Bass, Aux Input, For Travel, Online Class, Home Office
This cheap set of Bluetooth headphones will allow your kid to keep his music (or lessons) to himself.
If you don’t have the space for the exercise ball we covered above, this wobble stool can provide your kid with the same fidgety motion in a much smaller package.
Adjustable Height Active Learning Stool - Padded Office Desk Chair with Rocking, Wobble, Tilting Motion - Red
Allows your kid to fidget while studying without taking up too much space
If what you really need is a webcam, well, get in line. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has put them in short supply pretty much everywhere, and it doesn’t look like the crunch is letting up.
However, you might have an alternative lying around you didn’t even realize you could use.