I love having a larger-than-normal sized family. My kids always have someone to play with, we are never bored, there’s always someone to cheer for, and I enjoy how each one is so unique. It also means a lot of dirty dishes, a huge grocery bill and the never ending laundry pile. Add in homeschooling and the fact that I have a senior all the way down to a toddler and the amount of books, curriculum and supplies adds up! I hope to shine some light on how we create a homeschool space that works.
The Size of Your Space
Every family is different in the size of their family and the size of their space. And just to alleviate any of your fears that I don’t know how to homeschool in a small space, I have homeschooled in a travel trailer all the way up to a 5000 sq ft house and everything in between. This military life has given us many opportunity to try many different living situations. I will be offering ideas for all sizes and shapes of homes.
My very first tip, no matter what size home you have, is to simplify your life and your school. We don’t have to do everything! There are so many amazing curriculum choices available, fun field trips to participate in and books, games and educational toys to surround ourselves with. We need to pray about and find the best things for our family in it’s current season.
I struggle with this just as much as the next person. I have seven children under my roof and I want to save things that fit each child’s personality, interests and learning style. It becomes overwhelming very quickly. So how do I accomplish this?
It’s an ever changing, ever improving art form.
We keep a donate box by the front door and take it out to the car as soon as it’s full. I sort through my books every summer, passing on doubles and throwing away ones that were overly loved. Toys require the same attention. I also limit toys and games that have small pieces. Legos have been negotiated to stay as long as they stay contained. It works most days.
Simplify your calendar as well. If you are so busy you are never home, you can’t maintain much order or get much academic work completed. The more stuff you have, the more time it will take to maintain said stuff. Think about that next time you find that killer deal on a new game or science kit.
Designated Homeschool Space
No matter the size of your home, have a designated homeschool space. Using the dining table is a great option, but you need an area to store your daily homeschool materials.
In our trailer, the cabinet next to the dining table was all our homeschool books. I kept a plastic rolling cart with 3 drawers next to the table with a drawer for each of my three children’s school supplies. In our biggest home, we are blessed with a separate school room directly off of the dining room and am able to set up a school table.
My point is that no matter the space, you can designate an area so that your homeschool material is easy to find and get started each day.
Library books are my nemesis. I gave up checking out books because I never get them turned back in time. They tend to blend into our own books. So I started a library basket. It stayed out during the week and was easily accessible. It is now a shelf of books from my personal library relating to our studies that particular week. This is a huge blessing to our quiet time.
Our homeschool space also has areas for each subject. This helps me find things quickly and give me an quick view of how much stuff I’ve accumulated in each area. There is a space for math books and games, a science cabinet, shelf space for history books and maps, a collection of reference material, and even a basket for nature walk finds.
I have a habit of hyper focusing on a particular subject and then accumulating too many materials around that one area. Having everything sorted helps me keep that to a minimum. Like I said, the more stuff you have, the more time it takes to manage it. So make sure your “stuff” is worth the time.
If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t stay…
This is a great rule to follow. I follow this rule for everything except books. If my books don’t fit the space, I just get more bookshelves. But I’m a stickler with everything else. If your clothes don’t fit in your dresser, you have too many. Are the games overflowing their area? Then there are too many. Does the craft drawer not close all the way? Time to clean it out!
Make it Convenient
Don’t waste your school time looking for materials and books. Your daily use items should be easy to get to and easy to find. Pencils are probably the hardest item to keep up with. It never fails. School time rolls around and the pencils have all disappeared or all need to be sharpened. My only tip for pencils, is to check them all five minutes before you start school.
For older kids, middle and high school students, check their work at night and then be sure to return everything to their work station. My older kids are notorious for wasting time looking for books, paper or pencils. Not because they aren’t there, but because they don’t want to start school. I do my part by assuring their homeschool space is ready to go.
May Your Homeschool Space be a Blessing
I pray you begin to enjoy your school area and it’s a blessing to your family. I would love to see your school spaces, share in the comments or on our Facebook page!