2023 Homeschool Room Refresh, Our Current Homeschool Space
Creating a simple homeschool space in 2023
We have schooled in several rooms of our house. If you've followed me on YouTube, you may have seen our kitchen schooling, spare bedroom schooling, whole house/no school room schooling, and dining room schooling.
We are back in our dining room! But our dining table is not. Our spare bedroom that we were using was no longer a spare, and I needed a central space where I could help the kids, work, and keep an eye on an ever mobile baby. Oh, and be able to pop into the kitchen to cook, clean, do dishes etc, easily as well as pop into the family room to snuggle on the couch for reading lessons, or folding laundry, or nurse a baby, while still being visible to the kids working in the school room. Quite a tall order!
Our formal dining room fits all of those needs beautifully. We first moved back into this room with a large folding table and a wall of bookshelves. You can check those photos out below:
That setup was ok, but didn't quite meet our needs. While I loved having one big table to spread out on, my kids really wanted individual work spaces. I fought that for a long time. I really didn't want to recreate a traditional school room.
I'd think, "C'mon kids! We're 'One Big Table' schoolers!" But that was me striving for the aesthetic that **I** wanted, not meeting my kids with what they wanted/needed.
Aside from the lack of individual space, the large table also took up a lot of floor space. This dining room isn't overly large (12x12) and this room has to meet a lot of needs for our family. We needed a more flexible set up, and needed the ability to have play space on the floor.
This rug is often scattered with puzzles, hands on math blocks, board games, building blocks, baby toys. Having the open space for my kids to play and create is important and in this season, very necessary.
But! We still wanted to be able to spread out for our group subjects, or for a sewing day, or a paint date. The beauty of a folding table! With this open floor space, we can easily set up our folding table (which is kept hidden away behind the couch in our front room, just adjacent to this room, when not in use) and have plenty of space.
I'm grateful that we can still easily have the group learning that I love so much, while still giving my kids the individual spaces that they desired.
The room didn't have space for large desks for each child, we had to get pretty creative. Initially we talked about building a large narrow long table, we might still do that with dividers between the workspaces.
Here's a Pinterest image with dividers that are kind of what I'm thinking ... eventually
For now, we are using folding tray tables. They are a great size for my still smallish kids. It might not work for teens, but my oldest is 10 and it is still plenty of space for her. We put up a cork tile for each of them that holds the daily work I expect them to accomplish, and they are free to put whatever else they want up there.
Next to each of their desks, they have Banker Box magazine files that hold all of their workbooks, current textbooks, notebooks, reference charts, etc. Whatever they need to store for their daily work. This has helped keep things streamlined - they don't have to go to the bookshelf every time they need something. Our shelves stay neater, they can always find what they are looking for, and we work more efficiently.
I chose an L shaped desk for my space. The desk this replaced was longer and deeper (not counting the L portion) but it always ended up cluttered. I still have space for a child to sit by me for help if they need to, but less horizontal space to clutter. The built in shelves are working great to store paper, folders, books, supplies etc. This has helped keep the top of my desk more manageable!
I went without a desk in our school area for a long time, but now I find it very helpful. I work from here, but also its nice to be able to let the kids practice typing, or look up info for school assignments, or print whatever we need. I also am able to take care of our household budget/pay bills without leaving the school room which helps keep everyone on task.
I spend way more time at this desk than ideal, but I'm grateful and feel blessed to be around my kids while I work!
I have one tall bookshelf next to my desk. It has books that I'm reading, turn in boxes, extra supplies, off limit supplies, and odds and ends that don't have a home elsewhere.
I was sad to split up all my bookcases, but I love how it opened up the layout of the room. I'm contemplating putting another tall bookcase on this side, so that it is symmetrical with the bookcases on the other side of our cased opening. It would also be awesome to have more space because honestly we have a ton of books haha!
I moved our two smaller bookcases to the living room on either side of our media console table.
These shelves are currently a mess, but we are loving the functionality of them! All of our reading curriculum, leveled readers, chapter books, and board books live here. The kids also have a few baskets of books in their rooms (a mix of chapter books and picture books).
We tend to do our reading lessons on the couch so it made sense to have all the books close within reach. I also love that it easily invites the kids to grab a book and read. If they aren't in the school room, the kids are usually in the living room. We don't allow screens until after dinner during the week, so this is a great way for them to occupy their time without asking for tv. Since moving the books in here, I have noticed they reach for them more often! Yay!
This cart is a recent addition to our school space. The infamous "homeschool cart" finally made its way into our home! We're using it for art supplies as well as regular supplies like pencils and scissors. I love it. The kids can wheel it into the kitchen for messier crafting time, but it keeps our school and craft supplies easily within reach. I've only put free use supplies in here. Anything that they need to ask to use is kept in the shelves by my desk.
I really enjoy having supplies (that are mostly low mess) easily in reach for them. It has taught them to be responsible with their supplies and take good care of them. Creative outlets are great for kids, and it's nice to not get a million requests. I'm sure they enjoy the freedom to have things to use at will and to not have to ask as well!
We are calling these two bookcases the homeschool nook. I'm not sure how that started, but it stuck! This is where I keep current and future curriculum, as well as reference books/texts. Is it basically a Master Books nook? Yes, yes it is. Our little miniature MB warehouse haha.
It has been a lot of fun to grow our little home library, and such a blessing. I love having resources on hand for my kids to explore!
I'm really happy with how this space turned out! It may not be the "One Big Table" space that I envisioned, but it is the space that actually works best for our family. I still have a ways to go, but I'm learning to let go of what I imagine would work (and look) best, and instead listen to and recognize the needs of my children.
After setting up individual work spaces, our school days have gone much smoother. My kids are completing their independent work without bickering and fights over elbow space. They still distract each other but not nearly as much.
Our group subjects are always tidied up, because we have to fold the table up. I love that books aren't left strewn out on the table anymore! The messy school table (which was visible in the background of my zoom meetings!) used to be a friction point in our family. "Kids! I have a meeting in 5 minutes, look at this table! You gotta clean it up, fast!" was said more times than I can count. Now the room is set up in a way that:
1. Their desks can't be seen in my background
2. Only a small corner that stays relatively tidy can be seen.
This works better for our family! What kind of homeschool space does your family have?
Until next time, Happy Schooling!