Where Do You Homeschool?

The following is a guest post from Mandi of Organizing Your Way.

After deciding to homeschool and choosing a curriculum, one of the biggest questions that homeschoolers deal with on a regular basis is where to homeschool and how to set up a school room.

However, like pretty much every other aspect of homeschooling, the answer to this question is as varied as the families who homeschool, and there is no step-by-step guide for setting up the perfect school room.

What’s important is that you make the most of your unique space to devise a useful school area. Use these four questions to help you get you started:

1. How much space do you have?

The size and layout of your house will obviously have an impact on how you set up your homeschool environment. You may or may not have the space for a dedicated school room (and you may not want one even if you do have the space), and you may be limited as to the number of books, manipulatives and supplies you keep on hand.

Be creative in how you organize to maximize the space you do have, but also accept the limitations of your home and work with them rather than against them.

  • Take advantage of your local library system for checking out the books you need each week or month.
  • Work at the dining room table rather than trying to cram another table into the playroom.
  • Use a basket for books and some floor pillows to create a reading nook in an unused corner of your home.

2. What is your educational philosophy?

Think about the basic tenets of your educational philosophy. What activities and characteristics are most important to you? How can you embrace these as you’re setting up your school room or organizing your supplies?

  • If nature study is important to you, then you’ll want to organize your supplies so that you can easily move outside on nice days (or even not-so-nice ones on occasion!).
  • If you use a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight, then you’ll want to have a comfortable place to read together for extended periods of time.
  • If you follow an unschooling approach, you’ll want to have reference books, art supplies and other materials readily available.

3. What distractions do you have to deal with?

We have an open floor plan on the main level of our home, and I find that my children are better able to focus when we do school upstairs because there aren’t as many distractions–“Ooh, look at those books. Hey, we left that toy out. Oops, look, there’s my rock by the front door. Ooh, can we have a snack from the kitchen?” I’m also better able to contain my two-year-old in the upstairs room with us, whereas she’s prone to wander off and get into things downstairs.

  • If you live in a neighborhood with other children, you may need to choose a room that doesn’t face the street or neighborhood park where other children are playing while you’re schooling.
  • If you have pets, you may need to send them outside or to a different room during school hours.

Think through the distractions that you deal with daily and ways you can address them as you organize and set up your school area.

4. How old are your children?

The ages of the children you’re homeschooling will have an impact on the way you set up your homeschool area.

  • Older children may need a quiet place for independent study, while younger children may need to work in the main area of the home so that you can help them while attending to other chores.
  • If you have toddlers or babies, that will probably impact where you do school as well.

We all know that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can do things our own way, and it’s important to keep that in mind as you envision your ideal location for doing school as well. Remember, you can always adjust as you go!

Where do you homeschool?

About Mandi

Mandi Ehman is a work-at-home mom to four spunky little girls. She believes that organizing only lasts if you do it your way – to fit your needs, your preferences and your lifestyle – and she shares organizing and time management tips at Organizing Your Way.

Comments

  1. I’m in my 15th soon to be 16th year of homeschooling. We have basically homeschooled in every room in the house and in the yard. Seriously. When the kids were little we had an area where we put a couple used grade school desk, but that didn’t last long, because we always ended up dong our workbook work at the kitchen table and our reading in the living room. One year my back went out and I was on bed rest so we did school in my bedroom. When the kids were older and became more independent we put a desk and a computer in each of their rooms. My youngest is 16 now (turns 17 in a few months) she will begin her final year of homeschooling in August. Since she is the only one I teach (my son is 20 now) we do some school together in the kitchen, but she works independently in her bedroom most of the time.
    .-= Anita’s last blog: Flowers in My Garden::Part 2 =-.

  2. Pretty much anywhere, but we usually end up in our main room, it’s our living/dining/family room. Our whiteboard and workboxes are even in there. I am trying to incorporate school more into our every day life this year instead of trying to keep it separate.
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s last blog: Confessions of a Bad Wife =-.

  3. We’ve opted for our three girls to share a room, so that our third bedroom could be a “schoolroom”. They enjoy being together because they’ve never known any different (and they’re not teenagers yet ;) and we have a space just for school. This was something that felt important for ME; to make me feel more able to do a good job. I know it’s not necessary…I grew up doing school at the kitchen table :)

    Recently we got to give our schoolroom a makeover…

    http://www.oneordinaryday.com/2010/04/08/thankful/
    .-= Ashley’s last blog: Word-Full Wednesday =-.

  4. We have had a school room the last several years, however this year we are sticking mostly downstairs in the dining room and living room so that I can continue to do other work, while we do school. We feel more relaxed this way also.
    .-= Lori @ Couponomic Stimulus Package’s last blog: The Simple Coupon System in 5 Easy Steps =-.

  5. My philosophy is that life is school—life doesn’t take place in a certain space, so neither does school. That said, certain spaces are more conducive to certain activities. The majority of our downstairs is one big room, so we’re pretty much on top of each other while we do the dishes, read, play piano, and do workbook pages. The older two sometimes head to their rooms, the porch, or even the bathroom (!) to do their independent work.
    .-= Jennifer Jo’s last blog: Popping the heat =-.

  6. We have a school room. My son gets distracted easily so having a dedicated space works for him. We don’t always work in there as sometimes we will go outside, or downstairs if I need to do something in the kitchen. When I first started schooling we had our thigs downstairs and I couldn’t stand the chaos and mess. So when my youngest was 18 months we took over the nursery to creat our room. It works for us.

    My school room: http://littleredhen4.blogspot.com/2010/01/welcome-to-our-school-room-i-started.html
    .-= Bekki’s last blog: Green Leaves =-.

  7. We also have our three boys in one room and use our extra room as a school room. We love it that way, it gives us a place for everything and a place to work without getting too distracted (this really helps our oldest son) We still use our living room, kitchen table, and outside a lot too, but we really enjoy our room!
    .-= jeana’s last blog: Reading List for me and the Boys =-.

  8. We have a crate which holds all of our current homeschool books. Depending on the day, we move it to the kitchen table or the living room and do our main schooling. On certain assignments and projects, my daughter needs to be without distraction so she goes to her room to her desk.

  9. We learn everywhere, of course, but we seem to to “table work” as I call it, in three areas:

    – the library/home office where we have a small desk and a large coffee table w/ small chairs around it and a comfortable sofa for reading and our bookshelves
    – at the kitchen table (there is where we do many of our art projects because its proximity to the kitchen sink makes clean-up simple)
    – outside at the picnic table

    Great post! I’m looking forward to reading about where everyone learns :-)
    .-= Kara’s last blog: Simple as That: Connect With Nature in an Hour a Day – A Green Hour Giveaway =-.

  10. This is great! Thanks. It’s so important for us, as parents, to support our kids in being organized…by modeling AND teaching it. In celebration of Friday, I also love Friday Dump Day. I wrote about a cool version of it on http://scholarfit.com/

    Enjoy!

    Again, thanks.

  11. We have a one story house with a basement, and the plan going into our first year of HS was to use the basement for school. Halfway through the year, however, I realized it was way too much trouble to get four kiddos (under age 6) downstairs, back up for snacks, and back down to finish up lessons. The kitchen/dining/living areas are where we live and that’s where we do school. My only complaint is the distraction of toys/siblings, but I don’t think we can get rid of either.

  12. We do have a designated school room that I love with a tall table for my older girls and a smaller table for my younger son. There is a great space for reading and an antique chalkboard that is like a great work of art! We don’t always use the school room for teaching/learning since we like to learn in front of the fire in the winter time and outside in the nice weather, but we keep all of our school books/items there and it’s a great space for us to be in, like another family room. One thing I did do is buy everyone a garden bag (the kind with all the pockets) and fill it with everything that we need no matter where we school (pencils, erasers, rulers, tape, glue, scissors, etc.). This way, when the location changes we just pick up our bags and go!

  13. We are everywhere too. We read and cuddle in the livingroom, on my bed, out in the grass on a blanket. We do artwork outside, at the kitchen table or in the screened porch out back. I did clean up our basement playroom for the kids to use and that’s where a lot of their materials are. They also each have their own desk in their bedrooms if they want to work on something quietly.

    http://freetolearnanlovinit.blogspot.com/2010/03/big-reveal.html
    .-= Rana’s last blog: Great Outdoor Challenge – Backyards and Playgrounds =-.

  14. We’re just getting started…not really into it yet (4 year old). We mainly just do a small learning activity every day, we read every day too. I have a small house, and the only place really that offers enough light is the dining room. Its adjacent to the kitchen, so I can see that working out okay later, and has so far, since then I can multitask too. So far I store the most used items in a desk against the wall, and then the table is against the other wall…its cramped but it works. I store all the other items in the basement.

  15. We do the bookwork (workbooks and journals) part of school in our enormous kitchen – http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/01/25/saturday-spot-the-kitchen-tour – it is a bit chaotic, but so is life. In the real world we work surrounded by distractions so that’s just the reality of school as well. The kitchen is the room I am in and I can get on with whatever I need to do and still keep a watchful eye on them. As for reading and read alouds, we are like cats – any table, any chair, under the table, outdoors, in the bath, behind the couch, in the tree house… seriously anywhere!!!
    .-= se7en’s last blog: Se7en’s Bark Art Boats and Beasts, An Earth Day Challenge… =-.

  16. Mother of Pearl says:

    Our kitchen is too small to work there, our dining room has three meals a day in it, and there isn’t a spare room, so we do our school on the living room sofa and at a table we bought and put in the front entry room of our house. There are plenty of distractions doing school next to the front door (like the mail man and the neighbor’s delivery of heating oil) and I cringe when people come in and the first thing they see are the disheveled book shelves and bits of papers and projects scattered about, but it is what we have. And it gets the job done.

  17. We have reading nooks [baskets with books and pillows] in small corners in different rooms..and we love to make new ones every so often. We love to go outside…do math with chalk in the driveway, reading under trees, doing everything messy in the kitchen, making forts to do school work in, and our new favorite spot is in the car with books on tape from Jim Weiss, and math skip counting songs cd’s! when we go on long walks we like to play quizz show, by asking fun questions about things we have studied on before. So, pretty much everywhere is our space for my boys…they do NOT sit down well and do workbooks, so we improvize…want to know a secret? Their Mom could never sit down much either!!!

  18. We don’t know where we’ll be living next year, let alone where we’ll be schooling! But I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be here and there. This summer we’ll be on the road for almost two months. Because of that I got the kids lap desks to use in the van. After buying them I realized how easy they would make it to take our studies anywhere. I’m so excited about this freedom.

    Here’s a link with some pictures of our new desks, if you’re interested: http://annie-babble.blogspot.com/2010/03/weekend-of-indoor-fun.html.
    .-= Annie’s last blog: Remembering Grandpa =-.

  19. I’d really love to have a dedicated school room, but our home is much too small for that. So, we use the diningroom table most of the time. We have a bookshelf in the diningroom, as well as two bookshelves nearby in the hallway containing all the books, art supplies, science supplies, etc. Our diningroom is nice and sunny in the mornings, so it’s a pleasant place to do seat work.

    For reading, we might read in there but it might be in the livingroom on the couch, or even outside.
    .-= Laura @ Getting There’s last blog: One stitch at a time, taken patiently. =-.

  20. Okay, first let me just say that this site ROCKS!! Now, on to homeschooling. I was homeschooled K-12 and I was allowed to do my schoolwork anywhere, anytime. I liked that for myself. I was one of four kids and writing a book report on the front porch swing was totally my cup of tea. When I started homeschooling my oldest daughter – my life long dream come true! – she would say “Mommy, we do school on the COUCH” so I’d take my daughter out of whatever new and interesting environment I’d brought her to and we’d sit on the couch and work on her phonics book. She thrived on repetition and doing things the same way in the same place.
    So I think that you have to do what works best for your child most of all.
    When it came time for her to start first grade, and I’d just had our fourth child we sent her to public school. She did GREAT and loved it there.
    Now, we’ve just moved and I’m homeschooling again. LOVE it. We do school at the table most of the time. It’s a central location so I can keep an eye on my two homeschoolers and chase my two preschoolers!! When they get distracted I send them to work at the kitchen counter or sometimes to sit up on their top-bunk beds to finish up a worksheet. I would totally hate to have a school room and shut myself in to do only school all morning! I find the most truly educational moments come by being engaged in life with my kids. Talking to them, answering their questions and letting them be involved in my day to day life. I like being flexible & creative!

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