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As a homeschooler, it’s common to wonder if a designated homeschool space is your key to all things awesome about homeschooling. But is a designated homeschool space necessary? Let me share with you what I’ve learned about the almighty homeschool room since we started homeschooling many years ago.
First, be honest: why do you want a designated homeschool space?
Maybe you don’t want a giant world map on your living room wall.
Maybe the mess of homeschooling is threatening your sanity.
Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest.
There are lots of reasons that homeschool moms cite for wanting their own homeschool space. A homeschool “room” is good if you really need boundaries, have a family situation that requires it, have a significant other that doesn’t want school stuff everywhere, run a business from home, or just need the separation for your own sanity.
Some people want it because they want a spot to keep their stuff. Not only to keep curriculum and supplies organized, but also to be able to shut the door on it.
Other people want a homeschool space to do their stuff in. A place to do the experiments and the art projects and not have to move stuff every night to set the table for supper.
We used to dream about having a room that was our designated homeschool space because we wanted a spot to both do stuff and keep stuff. Like the concept behind a classroom, but we would never in a million years call it that. Right?
A sample of the ways we have organized our homeschool space…
Since beginning our homeschool journey in 2007, we have homeschooled in two different houses. It’s worth bringing up that in both of those houses, we shared space with another family at one point or another.
Every family has their own situations they’re working through and different reasons they might want to have a designated space. Here are just a few ways we’ve set things up over the years, and our frustrations with them at the time:
Books/supplies shoved in an upstairs closet, “learning” at the couch or kitchen table:
Our learning took place in many spots around the house, but all our supplies were in the least convenient place in the house. But it was the space that was available, so that’s where we shoved everything. It was disorganized, and also happened to be right next to where night-shift working dad was sleeping, so digging through the closet to find craft supplies or that one book meant I was always worried we were messing with his sleep.
Books/supplies/ “learning” in the living room:
It was nice to have all our books and supplies located in the same place that we hung out most of the time, but it also left our stuff in the middle of everything all the time. When we were sharing our home with other family members, it also meant that other people sometimes felt they couldn’t be in the living room at that time—or even on the main floor, since we had such an open house plan.
Books/supplies/ “learning” in the sorta finished basement:
This set-up placed necessary boundaries around our “school time” (from other family members) and made it quiet so Dad could sleep, but there were no windows and we felt shut off from everything else. Which was ironic, since at that point we thought we really wanted to be shut off from everything else so we could focus on whatever we were digging into that day.
The myth of the designated homeschool space…
When you don’t have a homeschool room, you can talk yourself into believing that everything you’re struggling with about homeschooling would be fixed if you just had that space to call your own.
So what happened when we got our own homeschool room?
When extended family members moved out to new homes, we used the space that was open as a homeschool room! An actual room with a table, chairs, a couch, shelves, maps and a timeline on the wall, dry erase boards galore, and huge closet to store everything. It was everything we wanted!
…and we almost never used it.
Oddly enough, the biggest thing we learned in that one year with our amazing homeschool room was this: when you have a tree fort, a hayloft, a swing, a comfy couch, you don’t need—and won’t use—a homeschool room.
See, the couch in the living room was more comfortable, and we all fit better together on it. The table in the dining room was bigger and more sturdy than the one we had in the homeschool room. We couldn’t see the barn or the chickens or the cats or if someone was in our driveway from the homeschool room. And for as fabulous as it was to have a huge closet to store our stuff in, we ended up dragging it out all over the house anyway.
So…we did get our homeschool space. And we learned a lot in it. Mostly that we didn’t need it, at all.
Our homeschool space now…
Now, we have all our stuff in a main floor closet (my office) and we do school wherever. Sometimes the boys are in their room, sometimes we’re outside, sometimes we’re sprawled out on the living room floor, sometimes we take over the kitchen table. Sometimes we’re (gasp!) not even home.
And yes, as your kids get older and more independent in their work, homeschooling can become easier. You may find that your “need” for a homeschool space changes. You will probably find you need less “stuff”—which is often because of the purge that happens when you realize you will not ever have time for the 45,327 things you’ve picked up at curriculum and used book sales. You will probably also find that your older kids do a lot of their stuff apart from you, so attempting to shove them in a space “designated for learning” wouldn’t make a lick of sense.
And maybe that’s part of homeschooling we need to be okay with. Didn’t we decide to homeschool because we didn’t want to be bound by the four walls of a classroom?
Homeschooling is expansive. It takes up a huge part of your life…because it is life. So it’s totally okay if homeschooling takes over a huge part of your house as well.