The Homeschooling Friendly Home
What makes a good homeschooling space? When we first started, I was insistent that we have a dedicated space for homeschooling. I didn’t want to tack the work of ‘homeschooling’ onto the already high-traffic areas of the kitchen space, or the living room space. Those areas of our house were busy enough, and filled with the accouterments of each of those activities as it was.
I would have said that a good homeschooling space is a dedicated space for you and your child to shift gears mentally. After reading what other people had to say on the subject and living the homeschooling life for nearly a year now, I think that for us my gut instinct was pretty dead on. That’s not to say that we don’t ‘do school’ in other areas of the house, or that the school room is dreadful to go into, but that having a dedicated space for school without the distractions of a dual-duty area allows a clear mental delineation of thought from ‘normal’ mode into ‘school’ mode.
I’ve read a lot about the attitude that homeschooling shouldn’t be separate from the rest of life, and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve often said that homeschooling is how we live, not something we do, but I maintain that having a dedicated space allows for focus that might be scattered in other areas of the house. As I’ve mentioned before, my oldest son is ADHD, and there are benefits to having his own space to work in (although I freely admit that he’s the one who is more often in another area of the house doing desk-work). The advantage for him is that when his attention starts to wander, we can re-focus by coming back into the school room and basically ‘re-setting’. I must admit that I also enjoy having school in a place that we can close the door on when school is over. I keep most of our posters and wall charts and school-related decorations limited to the school room, and though we integrate learning into nearly every aspect of our day, being able to ‘leave’ school is nice, too.
Granted, this is a luxury. I know that. Many homes barely have space for the people who live in them much less an entire room to devote to school. Even our school room is really a multi-purpose room; our laundry is also in that room (I’m not a traditional housekeeper – we keep our clothes in a communal closet in this room instead of in the bedrooms and use baskets and hanging racks instead of dressers. I’d never tell my grandmother, but the boys have toys in their dresser! It works much better for us this way). We also have ‘school-ish’ stuff in the kitchen – our crafts box and other supplies are stored in a corner cabinet in the kitchen. It’s not overly large, but having easy access to crafting supplies makes me much more willing to have the children underfoot with an art project while I make dinner. Our living room, and even bedrooms are also prime areas for doing ‘deskwork’. My kids often spread out on the living room floor or couch, on their bed or even in the yard to do worksheets or reading or journaling.
Overall, I think that the focus of the homeschooling home should be organization to the point that when inspiration strikes, the materials are both available and easily accessible. Whether that’s a desire to write a story or work on needlecraft or play a game, I try to keep our materials within easy reach for the kids. I also think that things should be able to be put away quickly – we often craft or have something out right up until the moment Dad comes home and need to switch gears quickly, so I try to keep clean up to a relative swipe into a box and push into a cabinet (not that my Loverly Husband ‘requires’ a quick clean up – just that the kids tend to lose focus when Dad comes home).
So how’s your house set up? Any special tips for organization and accessibility so that your home is a ‘homeschooling friendly’ environment?