As we talk about multi-level homeschooling (we homeschool 10 children ages 1-14), I thought that I’d address the very practical aspect of where we educate our children. Our educational choices will affect the area where we choose to homeschool and vice versa. If we run our homeschool like a classroom then chances are we will set it up like one and on the other hand if our “school room” is set up like a classroom it is more likely to be run that way. So think about your school area and ask yourself if it reflects your goals for your homeschool.
One thing that I learned from being homeschooled is that for our style of home education, most learning will take place where our family lives. Even though my mom and dad had a “school room”set up where we stored most of our curriculum, we usually studied, learned and discussed around the dining table or in our family room where the rest of the family spent their time.
We have continued that in our family (our school room has always been in or adjacent to our kitchen) and I think that communicates some of our educational goals to our children. By educating our children in the “heart of our home”, we are telling them that education is a part of everyday life and it isn’t divorced from it. (Also one of the reasons that we school year round.) We are also saying that you learn through living, you don’t have to go off to a special place to learn from “experts”. We are also encouraging our children to learn together with the rest of the family and encouraging discussion within our family. Discussion grows relationships as well as logic and reasoning.
I realize that having a full blown school room in your dining room, kitchen or living room is not possible for everyone, but if you are reevaluating or trying to figure out where to have your school room, I think it may be a good idea to consider having one of those areas available for school work. This allows mom to continue to get household work done during and in between teaching as most of us don’t have the luxury of 3-4 uninterrupted hours each day. I usually continue to read aloud while one of the children starts fixing lunch and dinner preparation is usually in the midst of looking over assignments and answering questions.
Also, having a school area that is conducive to entertaining little ones can mean the difference between easy multi-level learning and finding messes and trouble all about the house from little ones wandering about unsupervised.
Our current set up is ideal for our family. Some of these ideas will work in your home, others can be adapted to work and still others will not fit with your family preferences. Our school room is a large family room that opens off of our kitchen. We don’t have room to store all of our school books in this area, but we do have all of the books that we are currently using in here.
In the area labeled “school books” we also have all of our maps and geography things.
Did I mention IDEAL? Even to the detail of having our laundry closet where I can start and switch loads all day long. I only wish those doors were sound proof.
We have comfortable seating for read alouds as well as seating for all of the children to work at a table. This is the inside of our art closet and the children usually have two chairs up to this desk when they all have desk work to do.This kids play area doubles as desk space for our two little girls and or our two little boys.
On the other side of our kitchen is our dining room with the chalkboard wall and magnetic wall. We do a few subjects that make use of that chalkboard in the dining room, but the vast majority of time we are in the family room.
We have several options in this room for our little ones:
- Art, art, art. Many of our art supplies are accessible to our little ones so long as they ask permission. (This is simply so I can make sure that they have picked up their previous mess before moving on to make another one. As long as they have I always say yes and they are able to reach everything themselves.)
- Pretend play. The little kitchen above has led to hours of pretend play, they pull the cushions off the couch and chair to enclose their area and make beds and… you get the idea.
- Blocks. We have several baskets that hold an assortment of blocks for terrific open ended play. Jenga blocks are some of our favorites.
- Wooden train and track. You do remember my train-crazy 3 year old, right?
- Outside play. Since our deck is completely gated AND we can see them through the glass door, our little ones may play with play dough, riding toys or just run around outside on our deck.
- Quiet learning games and puzzles. We have collected a wide assortment of these and get them out only during school time.
We also have activities for the bigger kids during read alouds and discussions. Each child has an art bag in the art closet where they keep their projects. Alyssa (9) is currently knitting a scarf with a pair of pencils, Matthew (10) has a wood carving project going and Amber (12) and Kaitlin (11) are both working on needle work.
All of these activities take place in this room and by the end of the day it looks like a tornado has gone through, which is why we have a half hour of clean up time before daddy comes home.
Updated pictures of our school room.
I’d love to hear your ideas about what is important for a homeschool room.