Homeschool Room Tour 2017

Homeschool Room Tour 2017

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.

Furniture

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.

Homeschool Room

Storage

The Boys’ Desks

My Desk

HP Officejet Pro 8620

Large Magnetic Whiteboard

Apple TV

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.

Homeschool Room Tour 2017

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Why We Have a Homeschool Room

Why We Have a Homeschool Room

Need to have your hands free to work on getting a meal ready? Watch the video!


My son’s eyes never stopped moving when he first visited his kindergarten classroom at our local public school on “Meet the Teacher” night. The classroom was bright and cheerful with posters on the walls, a large colorful rug, and shelves filled with books, games, and art supplies. He had his very own spot with a table and chair just his size. He wanted to go everywhere and touch everything. There were no tears on the first day of school because he knew that there was a fun place waiting for him. And he never got over that.

Although my husband and I had determined that homeschooling was the best option for our family, I didn’t want my kids to miss out on the joy of a bright and cheerful learning environment. And it made sense to me to have a dedicated space for learning, just as we have dedicated spaces for cooking, sleeping, eating, and working. But as I researched homeschooling, I came across the idea time and again that homeschool rooms are an unnecessary throwback to traditional classrooms, set up by newbie homeschool moms in a misguided attempt to recreate a traditional classroom. Thanks to the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler, I knew that this wasn’t a position shared by all experienced homeschoolers, but I did question my desire for a school room. Was I simply being swayed by all the pretty pictures I found on Pinterest of beautiful school rooms? Was I about to spend a lot of time and money setting up a room that would hardly be used, a room that would serve as a source of guilt, a reminder of unrealistic expectations?

This decision was especially important because we had decided to buy a house and our homeschool needs would play a big part in our house hunt. So I had to get this right. No pressure.

Like any good engineer, I came to a decision with a mini requirements analysis for a learning space.

MY BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR A LEARNING SPACE

  1. Proper desks: I realized during our six months of experimentation that doing school work at the dining room table simply wasn’t an option for me. Besides the inconvenience of having to put things away when it was time to eat, I could see that my kids having to stand on their knees to properly see the surface of the table was not an ideal situation for children learning to write. I tried to solve that by sitting them at their activity/play table, but it was too small for them both to spread out. And whichever table they sat at, they would either start bickering because one brother felt that the other brother was migrating too far into his space, or they would simply be distracted by what the other brother was doing. Add to that my longterm homeschool goal to teach my boys good work/learning habits, I knew that desks were the way to go for me.
  2. Proximity to Storage: With a first-grader, preschooler, and toddler, I knew that we would have the need to store manipulative, puzzles, games, supplies, and curricula for various ages, while maintaining easy access. It made sense to me to maintain proximity to all the learning things while we were doing our school work, but I still wanted a way to keep little hands from getting into those same things when not in use.
  3. Out of Sight:  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be reminded of my challenges every second of the day. And school work can be challenging. While I wanted a pleasant environment for my kids to learn new things, I thought that it might be unhealthy for them to be constantly reminded of the hard work of learning. So I didn’t want school supplies to be in their faces constantly. I also didn’t want my youngest boy’s curious hands to have constant access to our school-related items. So keeping the learning space out-of-sight is really an effort to keep us all mentally healthy.
  4. Play space – While my oldest would be doing 2-3 hours of first grade work every day, my middle son would be doing 3-year-old pre-k work and my youngest (who was 15-months-old when we started homeschooling) would be toddling around getting into everything. I needed my youngest two (and especially my youngest) to have a play area within my line of sight while I was working with my oldest.

A dedicated learning space / school room best fit my requirements, but there were less-perfect alternatives – a hall closet could provide storage, the boys could have desks in their rooms, I could work with my oldest on the couch while my youngest boys played. But that all felt very loosy-goosy to me. And I knew that a couple of our overall goals for homeschooling – a more peaceful home environment and a focus on diligence – would not be met with supplies scattered throughout the house or having to constantly check on the kids doing school work in another room while also keeping an eye on my toddler. So I felt more confident in my desire to have a school room.

BUT JUST IN CASE, and because I’ve made a habit out of overthinking things and often suffer from paralysis-of-analysis, I made a pros/cons list to see if there was anything I’d be missing out on by having a school room.

I’ll start with the cons, to really get to the point.

Cons to Having a School Room

  • Expense.
  • Would have a hard time cooking or doing other housework while school is going on.

Pros for Having a School Room

  • To help the kids get in the learning frame of mind when we walk in.
  • Can leave a mess when we need to go eat or whatever.
  • Won’t be reminded of school all the time, because sometimes learning is hard work.
  • Wall space for a whiteboard, calendar, posters, whatever.
  • A dedicated learning space will communicate to the kids that learning is important to us.

As we’re finishing out our first homeschool year, I can confidently say that a school room was the right choice for us. It has evolved over the year as I’ve better-understood our needs, and my now-2-year-old loves nothing better than getting into all the “stuff” that he can reach, but the few times that we’ve had to forego the school room for one reason or another has proven to me that, for us in this season of our lives, a dedicated school room is infinitely better than any alternative.

What factors played into your decision to have or not have a dedicated school room?Why We Have a Homeschool Room

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