I have always wanted a separate space for homeschooling. A place where we could have everything set up and not worry about it wandering all over the house. A room with a door so we could exit the room, close the door, and not see the in progress experiments or drying art projects. A space large enough with a comfy couch for snuggling and read alouds yet also big enough for a big dining room table for experiments and “seat work.” Oh and of course plenty of shelf space for great books. I’d love a closet to store book supplies. Oh and a desk for mom with space for a computer, printer, copier and scanner.
Yes that was my fantasy. My reality? We live in an 1100 square foot 3 bedroom house with no attic, no basement and no dedicated storage space. 2 parents, 4 children and 2 cats. We moved here when my oldest was in Kindergarten. She’s about to start her sophomore year in college. The girls were so little that we put all four of them into one bedroom. We tried using the 3rd bedroom as a school room but it didn’t work for me. There was not enough room for what I wanted and the littlest ones were too much underfoot. It felt cramped and claustrophobic. We quickly converted the “schoolroom” into a “playroom.” This worked for us for many years as a way to contain the toys. Today that room is a bedroom. The 15 and “neurotypical” 17 year share that room. The college girl and Supergirl, my developmentally delayed 17 year old, share the bedroom they once all shared.
In my reality, I have no space that I can dedicate completely to home schooling. I do think it is important to create a distinction being school time and non-school time. I also think it is important to find a balance. I never wanted home school to be “school at home,” but I also didn’t want to be so relaxed that we had no structure or discipline.
I’ve thought about using the family room as the school room but couldn’t quite bring myself to give up the family room. Our living room is too open. I think of it as our library and music center: bookcases, couch, rocking chair and piano.
I do like using the dining room table for seat work, especially when teaching handwriting. For many years we did reading aloud in the living room. Now we tend to do reading aloud in the family room since the futon is gone and we moved the larger couch from the living room to the family room. Science was done at the dining room table or the kitchen counter. DVD Lessons happen in the family room.
Turtlegirl’s favorite place to do school is the kitchen counter. She has many computer based courses and she sets up her laptop and her notebooks. It keeps her accountable because I can see her and because we have to have the counter to make dinner, she stays on top of putting her work away which means she is less likely to lose her notebooks. She does have literature books to read and she does move to a couch for those.
Supergirl and I sit at the the dining room table to do her work. She has a special chair that allows her to be the right height for the table and gives support for her feet so they are not just dangling. This is optimal for her as she learns to write. We move to the loveseat in the living room or the couch in the family room for snuggling, reading practice and mom’s reading aloud.
Tailorbear is my wanderer. She loves to do her reading and questions for history on a couch but I make her sit at the table to do her computer based classes. Sometimes she likes to go to my bed do her literature readings. I think she likes my room because George the Cat will seek her out there and snuggle with her while she reads.
Our dinning room is the closest thing to a centralized school location. We have a tall wooden cabinet, a small wooden cabinet, a tall bookcase which holds resources and magazine racks with notebooks and workbooks, a short bookcase, and a wooden frame that holds bins.
What I’ve learned in 18 years of homeschooling: a separate, dedicated space isn’t necessary. The dining room table, kitchen counter, living room couch, bed, or floor all work just fine. We just have to be a bit more diligent in putting away our school things at the the end of the day so that we can make dinner and have family time. I think having a home school house instead of a home school room emphasizes the idea that learning and education are not confined to a classroom or set hours of the day. But I still long for a place to stash all of our stuff!
You might want to check out my post I Need Organization to Keep My Sanity! and Organizing my Home School Stuff. Do you have a dedicated home school space? Are you like me and school everywhere in the house? Does that work for you?