Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY
This past winter our family lived in a two bedroom, 750 square foot cabin in a rural river valley. Today, I am writing this post from a two bedroom Montréal city apartment where we are living for the month.
We are a North American homeschooling family of five (three kids, not littles either) and we currently live in small spaces. On purpose.
We do this, live in small spaces, so we can work and learn together at home, have grand adventures and follow our dreams.
For all the eight years we’ve been officially homeschooling we’ve never had a dedicated school room. We’ve had kitchen tables, craft tables, a couch, bookshelves and the living room floor. This is where we “do school”.
Whatever your reasons are for living in small spaces – maybe it’s a choice, maybe you feel you have no choice – there are ways to make it work.
Tools & Practices
Let’s start with the very practical, hands-on ideas for small space homeschooling.
Just because we don’t have a school room doesn’t mean we’re not organized. In fact, I think without a dedicated school space we probably need to be even more organized.
When there is “a place for everything and everything in its place” finding resources and cleaning up at the end of the day is much easier. And trust me, daily clean up is very necessary when the kitchen table is where you craft, study pond life (you don’t want to know all the creepy crawlies that have been on our table this past spring), do your math lesson, and eat lunch.
Technology is what makes so much of our small space lifestyle possible. Almost everything we need, resource wise, can be accessed via computer. E-books, audio stories, support and intervention, lessons and courses – all of it can be accessed online.
This is particularly important to our family since we live in a rural, francophone area (we don’t speak or read French well, yet). We’d be hooped without these online resources.
Many small space dwellers live in cities. Cities are teeming with learning opportunities. We’re living in one of North America’s largest cities this month and I’m amazed and simply overwhelmed (country bumpkin that I am) how much we can access here.
Who needs a school room with all these goodies waiting just beyond the metro stops?
Even if you don’t live in a large city, most moderate sized cities and towns have, at the very least, a decent library or interlibrary loan. This can be your number one homeschooling resource. Use it.
Living in a small space forces us outdoors more, because frankly I’d go crazy if we had to be indoors together all day.
One of the reasons we lived in our last rental, the 750 sq foot cabin, was because of the meadow, trees and river right outside our door. A place we felt was safe for our children to be free-range.
We were willing to sacrifice indoor space for unlimited access to the outdoors, where so much incredible learning happens.
Just as important as the right tools is your mindset – how you view your circumstances and living situation.
Having the right mindset has the power to change your life. This relates to small space homeschooling as much as anything else.
Cultivate an attitude of shared spaces and shared resources.
In a small home there is very little space, emotionally or physically, for “mine”. My desk, my office, etc. (I do believe that everyone should have their own retreat places, whether that’s a bed or a corner chair. And children should have toys that belong just to them. But most everything else can be shared.)
If indoor real estate is at a premium it makes more sense to share space and have rooms and furniture serve double or triple duty.
The World as Your Classroom
One of the reasons we homeschool is to remove the barriers and boundaries around learning. Learning is not limited to a school desk, a computer monitor, an opened book or the kitchen table.
Learning is available to us all the time, all around us.
We choose to live in small spaces because we want to see more of the world and keeping our housing costs low helps us do that.
By seeing more of the world our children are getting an education that a school room is simply not able to provide.
Let it Go
Homeschoolers think we need a lot of house space because we have to store, keep and maintain all those resources. The books, the curriculum we buy, the computers, the board games and everything else we use to teach our kids.
If you’re afraid to downsize because of your homeschool resources ask yourself these questions:
- How much of this are we really using, on a regular basis?
- Do we have to own it all or can we access some of this in our community? Either through the library, a homeschool co-op or the internet.
Whatever you don’t actually use, which is probably more than you realize – get rid of it.
Non-consumable curriculum (ie: stuff you don’t write in) holds its value and can often be sold in curriculum swaps, either locally or online. My preference is to give it away. Bless another homeschooler who is just getting started.
Small space homeschooling has freed up our resources in so many ways. With less space to maintain we have more freedom. Freedom to learn about the world beyond a school room.
Do you homeschool in a small space? What strategies do you use to make it work?