You don’t have to have a schoolroom in your house to homeschool. And homeschooling doesn’t mean your house has to look like a classroom. Here’s how we set up an uncluttered but functional school area in our home’s common room.
I almost decided not to share this post. As I edited pictures I had taken during a quiet hour on Sunday, I was frustrated about not having a better camera and my eyes kept resting on the wrinkles in my couch’s slipcover and the fact that our kitchen is still months into a remodel.
For a moment, I thought that if my pictures couldn’t be perfectly sharp, or if my house was stuck in remodel limbo, then I shouldn’t share them. I’m just being honest. I still struggle with comparison at times. But I reminded myself that my purpose on this blog is not to be impressive, but helpful. And the purpose of my home is simply to be a comfortable haven for the people I love.
So I hope that peeking into how our homeschool areas are set up will give you a little inspiration and a few fresh ideas.
And I also hope that sharing with you my insecure moments will help us all to remember that we do not need more people in our lives who have arrived, living in their picture-perfect houses with their caption-perfect families. We need people who are both striving for beauty and goodness AND being real about how it’s not always easy or how they imagined. Let’s be those kinds of people for each other.
The first thing you should know is that we do not currently have a dedicated homeschool room. I always pictured a room in our home with desks and cozy reading nooks and colorful posters on the wall. School would be done there and in that room all the school miscellanea would stay.
Instead, we do school together at our big table and the entirety of our school things are kept in the dining room. And you know what? I don’t think I would change a thing. (Fortunately, I’m not in a position where a decision is needed).
I have heard that even families who have schoolrooms still often end up in common areas like the dining room table and living room floor to do their work. It’s just nice to be able to be in the most comfortable rooms of the house, able to simultaneously do the read-aloud, monitor bread rising for lunch, and watch the toddler play.
I love our homeschool space. I have found that having an organized and pretty space really helps me to stay motivated and energized to plan and do school everyday. Keeping everything organized and easily accessible helps my kids, too.
Most of our work is done sitting at our large dining room table. My husband built me these benches when I told him I needed some furniture that would do double duty as seating and storage in our dining room. I needed more places to keep our homeschool materials, my sewing supplies, and table linens.
I found the baskets at Target, the white wooden boxes at JoAnns, and the pillows and book tote at Goodwill. The benches are not anything fancy, but I LOVE them. When I sit on the bench at the end of the table, I am able to reach and get almost everything I need for our school work.
I glued felt onto the bottom of the wooden boxes so they would slide on the wood more easily. The box closest to the wall holds all our school books– teacher’s manuals, student workbooks, my homeschool binder, easy readers, and more. Everything I need is easily pulled out and put away without having to get up. (Call me lazy, but this is a huge perk).
The second wooden box holds school items we use regularly, though not necessarily daily. Manipulatives, games, and learning activities are stored in this box. My kids know they can pull out a game to play when they want as long as they put it back. During school time, my toddler often takes out the counting bears, pattern blocks, or alphabet bingo to play with while I am busy with my older kids.
Also on this bench is my round basket full of the “special teacher supplies”. As in, hands off unless you ask first. Colored pens, highlighters, staplers, three-hole punch, paperclips, and such are kept here. A few extra books we use weekly are stored in a book basket on the bench as well.
This book rack at the end of the bench holds all our books for morning basket— poetry books, picture books, a North Carolina history book, nature study books, and our current read-alouds. Usually during school time I put the tabletop easel on the table and the book tote next to me on the bench. Having our morning basket routine written out in front of me helps me not to forget a step.
The morning basket routine may look like a lot, but each segment is kept short. I try to follow many of Charlotte Mason’s principles in our homeschool, and short lessons is an important principle because it allows you to “spread a feast of ideas” for your children and helps to prevent them from becoming bored or overwhelmed.
Last year I set up a small homeschool nook with a bulletin board, nature finds shadow box, chalkboard, and quotes. We put up a shelf to display larger treasures like my boys’ geodes collection and the deer skull they found in the woods.
This year I wanted to expand our homeschool space to include the opposite wall as well. I rearranged the room, replaced the coffee table with a rug, and put a bench underneath the first homeschool wall. The bench provides another play surface and the bright yellow rug is a favorite spot for my kids to bring activity trays and play together.
The closet in our dining room is almost always open. A hanging shoe rack on the door organizes craft supplies. Both of our activity tray carts fit in the closet so that my kids can just pull out whichever tray they want. And the shelves hold even more craft supplies, sewing supplies, our printer, and some of my husband’s items.
My biggest reason for wanting a second wall dedicated to homeschool things was to have more space to display posters and artwork. I found the ruler with clips, the pennant sign, and the fish at Target. I love the whimsy that the fish give, though my husband was a little skeptical at first.
I have also wanted a sign with our school’s name for a long time. This sign was very simple to make. I actually used a board from the closet which was previously used as a shelf. After two coats of stain I wrote our school name in chalk, and then painted it with leftover wall paint.
The rolling cart is perfect for holding the supplies my kids use most often in school. They each have a pail in their favorite color with pencils, pens, scissors, an eraser, a glue stick, and a ruler. Keeping their supplies in individual pails has made it easier for them to keep up with their own things. They can simply grab their pail and have just about everything they need for lessons or crafts during other parts of the day. The cart also holds crayon and marker boxes and a tiny trash can perfect for paper scraps.
A final element in our homeschool space is the display frame for my kids’ artwork and school papers. I wanted a way to show off their work without the end result looking cluttered or messy. I found a frame at Goodwill, removed all but the glass, and hot glued small clothespins to the glass. Hanging up and switching out their work is super easy and the space still looks neat.
- tabletop easel
- floor easel :: IKEA
- rolling cart (I found mine at Aldi, but this is similar)
- baskets, pails, ruler clipboard, & globe :: Target
- kids table :: IKEA (it’s a coffee table without the lower shelf)
- kids chairs :: IKEA
- Field guides :: Nature Anatomy, Insect Pocket Guide, Fun with Nature guides, Audubon Guides
- Games :: Spot It, Into the Forest, RangerLand, Counting Bears, Pattern Blocks
Where do you do homeschool or homework with your kids?
How do you display your kids’ work?
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