If you are in the habit of reading homeschooling blogs at all, you’ve probably seen articles in which people document their beautiful, dedicated “school rooms”. Bright, sunshiny, filled with Ikea furniture. And while I enjoy seeing how others organize their things, I’ve never had the luxury of having a dedicated room for school. We’ve varied from a plastic tub that traveled around with us to a closet next to our dining room table to a dedicated table in the living room. But never a whole ROOM just for school. Where DO you put all that stuff when you live in a small house? So I thought I’d share what our school area looks like at the moment – how we make it work in our space.
I don’t know the exact dimensions of our current home, but I doubt it is more than 1000 sq. feet. We have 1 bath, 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a fairly large open plan living/dining room. It is part of a row of three identical houses all attached together – more like an apartment, but single level and with a yard. It’s enough space for us, we don’t feel cramped, but if it was any smaller we would.
I should also mention that because we embrace a simple method of homeschooling, we really don’t have a ton of stuff. Other than books that is. Ahem. (Yes, I do have Kindle. Believe me when I say it would be MUCH MUCH WORSE if I didn't! But I digress.)
We’ve sort of commandeered one end of the living room for our “school room”:
I took this photo standing in our front doorway. The table in the foreground is our dining room table, and the kitchen off to the left. Our school table is the one by the sunny window at the far end. The sunny window overlooks our fenced in backyard, which is considerably less distracting than the playground out the front window. The low shelf unit on the left of the living room contains the kid's toys, drawing stuff, and picture books.
Our school table doubles as a kids’ project table when we aren’t doing school, or overflow seating for guests.
All of our “table” materials are stored on this shelf unit in the corner. On the top shelf, each child has a magazine-holder to contain their particular books and papers as well as my purple lesson planning folder, a box of Kleenex, and our Scripture memory box, a Bible, and a hymnal. The second shelf has activities to keep preschoolers occupied on the left, and math manipulative items on the right. The bottom shelf has a few teacher’s reference items (such as the Math U See books), nature journals, and Michelle’s history timeline book and portfolio for the year.
Over on this side, we have our whiteboard, which we proudly shipped over to Africa all the way from the good ol’ US of A so I could use it with magnetic letter tiles for word-building type lessons. At least, that was the idea. Until we finally unpacked and mounted the thing on the wall to find out it’s not magnetic after all. SIGH. So, it’s being used for drawing fun at the moment….(anyone have a good suggestion for something upon which to stick magnetic letter tiles that DOESN'T involve shipping another whiteboard over from the States?)
The rest of our “school stuff” is on this shelf over by the couch. The top shelf is all of the current books we are reading that aren't on the Kindle (we usually do this type of reading on the couch). The second shelf contains history/geography related reference and picture books, and the bottom contains science and nature related reference and picture books. This makes them easy to grab if we want to look something up, and often the kids will pick them up and flip through them in their spare time just because they are accessible. (In fact, this is what my three-year-old is doing as I type. It makes my Mama-Teacher-Heart happy.) The globe, world map and flag charts are also over here for quick reference as we read about various places.
All of the rest of our books and school materials live are in our “library” – aka, the great big bookshelf that lines one wall in James’ bedroom. The girls share a room with each other, James shares a room with my books. And the laundry drying racks. It all works out, right? ;-)
And that’s it folks, how we keep our “school” organized in a fairly small space.