Of our many homeschooling friends, none learn in a location like another. Our friends learn on porches, at kitchen counters, and at kitchen tables. A few have desks scattered throughout the house. One family homeschools in a backyard shed by the chicken coop. One converted a garage. One family walks across a meadow to use an old one-room schoolhouse. And one has a very large house with a beautiful sunlit dedicated schoolroom.
A separate room is not needed to homeschool well
We ought to have an ideal learning environment in mind, though that is all that is required. We will be patient and kind to ourselves for not getting there perfectly. When we write down what makes a good learning environment, it includes:
- A pleasant and orderly atmosphere
- Freedom to pursue learning, interests, creativity and play
- Books and objects of delight and discovery
- None of these essentials requires a dedicated schoolroom.
In our former home, we didn’t have the luxury of an extra room for teaching our children. There, we homeschooled on the couch or at the kitchen table. There was always a baby interrupting. I’m at the other end of that time, and I can say without a doubt: it worked out just fine; they learned just fine.
In that home, I scattered baskets throughout the house with learning or creative objects in them: a math toy, ABC blocks, pipe cleaners…these baskets were tucked under a chair here, on a shelf there. The only ‘rule’ was that the items had to be returned to their basket. Because the baskets weren’t always seen, their contents were usually appreciated as ‘new’ and fun. Because they were in different locations, their contents weren’t usually mixed with other baskets. I would often put new items in one (keeping in mind the age of the youngest, if they were within her reach): perhaps blunt scissors and fabric scraps or pretty scrapbooking paper. One time, I put a knot book and rope in a basket our eldest son would see.
even if we have the space, we don’t need to have things fancy to homeschool well
We moved from that house into a larger one, but were very low on funds. One day, I was day-dreaming again about having a schoolroom, when I stopped myself. Do you ever get tired of dreaming about something over and over? I do! I said to myself, “Well, stop wishing for it and do something about it!“
One of the rooms was listed by the realtor as a dining room, but we are a family far too relaxed to need a formal dining area. The room also lies awkwardly next to the kitchen’s dining area. We tried it as a second living room, but our children were at the stuck-like-Velcro-to-mama-and-daddy stage. So, the maybe-dining-room-that-was-an-unneeded-second-living-room, suddenly became the new schoolroom. Knowing our budget could not pay for a fully equipped, brand new schoolroom, we went shopping in our home.
First, we painted the room with extra paint. We put up a ‘chalkboard ‘given to us. The chalkboard is a piece of 1/8” plywood painted with chalk paint, screwed into the wall, then ‘framed’ with molding or trim, which is screwed into the wall around it. Used furniture (a couch, love seat, and rocking chair from our old house) was placed in the room. We placed a dry-erase board, child’s easel, and a bulletin board in the room. And we painted a wooden table that we found in the garage under a pile of tools. Daddy made benches for the table out of scrap wood he had, painting them with leftover paint. He made another bench tol hold the CD player and the abacus out of a broken bookcase and some scrap wood. Finally, we put a couple of posters up on the wall that we had collected over the years.
The room has since become everyone’s favorite room in the house. It is always occupied by a learning or creative soul.
create a homeschool room, or not, either one will do
I hope to encourage you to make do with what you have. Even if you have plenty of money, be resourceful. Look at your belongings and think of ways to use them.