Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

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?

Warmly,

~h

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7 responses

  1. Our school room is in the living room, and partly in the kitchen. All of our books are stored in the livingroom, because we snuggle on the couch to read. And the messy stuff is in the kitchen, to make for ease of clean up.

    It is a system I am used to. I can’t remember when it wasn’t this way. Oh yeah I do, when we lived in Montana. The upstairs had a loft, with bedrooms off of it. Part of the loft was a living room for the older kids and the other a school room. The main reason was that it was much warmer up there in the winter.

    Winter in the Rocky Mountains can get pretty chilly ! We also had an old wood burning stove. 😉

    October 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

    • Our school room was once upon a time a garage. We don’t have central air or heat, so it’s hot in here in the summer (esp when the dryer is running) and cold in the winter (even with the dryer running) LOL
      We’re working on a solution to this problem 🙂
      I’d LOVE to have a REAL stove in our house!!!
      ~h

      October 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

  2. We do have a room dedicated to school stuff but we also have things stashed around the house to make them toddler proof. Our science table is in our home office with the door always kept closed; we keep lots of stuff way up high in the playroom/school room. I look forward to the day when the kids will have easy access to everything but for now, unless I want my walls drawn on daily or the glass magnifying glasses smashed to bits, it is what it is.
    I love seeing how other homeschoolers have organized their homes. Thanks so much for sharing pictures. Haven’t had time to comment on your other latest posts, but yes, I was wondering where you were. Glad you’re back. Always enjoy reading your blog. 🙂
    Julie

    October 4, 2010 at 9:22 am

  3. Oh, yes – toddlers… gotta love ’em 🙂
    We started our art box when LittleBoyBlue was a bitty-bit and needed something to keep his hands busy. I can definitely see the wisdom in keeping some things out of reach.
    Glad you enjoyed the pictures! There are others if you click the homeschooling room tag – I photo-blogged the transformation from ‘catch-all room’ to homeschool room 🙂
    ~h

    October 5, 2010 at 12:18 am

  4. Our house is too small to have a dedicated homeschool room. We have at least one pocket in each room that is dedicated to schooling. I like everything behind closed doors, as much as possible. I’d love an entire room set up as a library with a wall of enclosed shelves. Maybe one day.

    October 5, 2010 at 7:21 am

  5. Oh, yes – the “Beauty and the Beast’ library… I think we all heave this dream, my dear, LOL.
    ~h

    October 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

  6. PB&J

    I’m much less ambious than that. I’d like to turn a bedroom or formal living room of ANOTHER house into a library! But yeah, the beauty and the beast one would be nice too!

    October 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

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