My husband and I decided to buy a new house right around the time we’d decided to start homeschooling the following school year. I was pretty excited to be able to choose a house that fit our homeschool needs. And for me, that meant a homeschool room! By this time, I was so excited about homeschooling that when it came to a school room, I thought go big or go home.
I needed some information to work with while looking at houses, so it was time for a list of requirements. I was almost as I excited about making this list as I was about looking for a new house.
My Requirements for a Homeschool Room for the Maddox Academy
Out of sight, out of mind – Since I have little ones, I knew that a large part of our school supplies would consist of manipulatives. Then there were the markers, pencils, books – lots of things for little hands to get into. So I really wanted a separate room for the school room, something with a door that I could close and hopefully keep the kids out of during non-school hours. But another reason to keep the room out of sight, out of mind, was because I don’t think that the kids should have to think about school all the time, just like adults don’t want to be reminded of their jobs when they really just want to sit and have a nice meal or watch Everybody Loves Raymond. Let’s face it, learning can be hard work. We can talk about how play should be the work of childhood all the live long day, but I knew that I couldn’t live in the fantasy that homeschooling would be a magical experience every second of every day. My own experience is that even when I really liked my job, I just wanted to unplug sometimes. Why would my kids be any different?
Bathroom – When we started homeschooling, I had a 3-year-old that was still dicey with the potty training, and a 1-year-old that would one day be potty training, God help us. There was no way that I was going to add to the trauma of potty training (and I’m talking about the trauma I experienced, just to be clear) by not having easy access to a bathroom.
Lots of light – I have this thing with light that drives my husband nuts. I need lots of it. Lots of bright bright light. Is there something wrong with me? Am I going blind? Probably. Regardless, I need light, and I was really hoping that it would be natural light so that we didn’t feel like we were in a box.
Space to play – I have three boys. Active active boys. Enough said.
Room for lots of storage – I needed room for lots of shelves, and maybe even a closet.
Space for four desks – When making the decision about whether or not we should have a school room, I realized that I wanted my boys to each have their own desk. And I wanted one too. So we needed room for all of that.
Wall space for a whiteboard and posters – Because I love all that nerdy stuff.
TV and DVD player – For all those educational videos.
Yay, We Found a House!
We ended up finding a new home that’s 1 1/2 stories. That 1/2 story? That’s our school room! Out of sight, out of mind. Big. And it has its very own full bathroom and closet. We painted the walls Sherwin-Williams Waterscape. One of the guys at the Sherwin-Williams store recommended this color to me because it reminded him of the color of the water when he went out fishing. You won’t ever catch me with a fishing rod in my hand, but I ended up really liking the color since it was bright and boyish.
Now that we had a house, it was time to figure out furniture choices and configuration. Here’s what I wanted:
Flexibility for different configurations – I was torn about what type of configuration I wanted. I knew from my school experiments that it wouldn’t work for the kids to sit too closely together. But I really loved the big school desk that Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler uses. I thought about it forever and finally decided to get desks that could be set up independently or put together to make one big desk. I’m so happy with that decision because I’ve moved them around A LOT. The key was to get table tops that are twice as long as they are wide.
Stand to work – My oldest likes to stand. A lot. He even stands in front of the TV when playing on the Xbox. Who are these kids sitting down all day playing video games? They aren’t in my house. I thought that a desk that he could stand at and still work could help with issues with abundance of energy.
Easy to clean – I’ll never forget the day that I walked into my sons’ room to see pencil drawings all over the walls. And now I was about to give them regular access to markers, crayons, glue…I was afraid. Very afraid. Thankfully, the table tops come in high gloss white. I hoped that they would be easy to clean, and they are A DREAM. I’ve even used a dry-erase marker on the table tops when working on math with Michael and his manipulatives.
I also got the two older boys the IKEA junior chairs so that they would have chairs just their size, but, unfortunately, the chairs didn’t stand up to my boys’ treatment of them. The sides of one chair were damaged pretty quickly from my son swinging the chair back and forth against his desk. And they’ve somehow managed to mark all over them. I don’t know how this stuff happens, because I’m always right there. I used to try to clean them off every day, but eventually they got to the point that they didn’t clean well at all. So I pretty much gave up. We kept them for a year, and then replaced them with chairs that are easier to clean.
One of my goals for homeschooling is to teach the boys good work habits, which includes how to set up a workspace. That means organized drawers, but with my youngest running around grabbing everything in sight, I haven’t implemented a desk-drawer system for them yet. For the time being, I’m keeping most pencils, dry erase markers, glue, and do-a-dot markers on the desktops. The do-a-dot markers are in a cute red pencil holder that I got years ago at Target, I think. Cruz grabs the whole thing when he needs them. Everything else is in either an adorable organizer that I picked up at HomeGoods or a spinning organizer that I got at Lakeshore Learning. I also picked up a white paper organizer at HomeGoods, which I use to store scrap paper and a few workbox items.
Here’s a look at our schoolroom as it is now. We got most of the furniture in our schoolroom from IKEA. Keep scrolling for links to many of the items in our schoolroom.
- Kallax Shelving Unit (8 cubbie)
- Kallax Shelving Unit (4 cubbie)
- Lappland TV Storage Unit
- Uppleva Wall Bracket for TV
- Hemnes Wall Shelf
- Tjena Boxes with Lids (green not available)
- Lekman Box
- Paper organizer I use as a drying rack for the kids’ projects.
- Magazine File
- Command Brand Picture Hanging Strips
- Check-it (UPDATE: This item is currently unavailable on Amazon. You can find a similar item here, although I’m unsure of dimensions.)
The Boys’ Desks
- Alex Drawer Unit
- Alex Drawer Unit with File Storage
- Linnmon Table Top
- Signum Cable Management
- Swivel Chair
Was a Homeschool Room the Right Choice?
After two years of homeschooling and lots of time to use our learning space, I can confidently say that it was the right choice. There have been a few times that we’ve done our desk work in other areas of the house for one reason or another, and for the most part those times were super stressful. We didn’t have the supplies we needed at hand, the kids were distracted by everything, my toddler ran all over the place and had to be hunted down…no bueno. Not for me. Setting up a homeschool room did take time, effort, and money, but it was totally worth it in this season of our lives.