One of my greatest fears about becoming a homeschool mom was having a chaotic home. I had heard a lot of negative stories about how messy homeschool was going to make my house. And frankly, being shut up in a messy house with three kids all day and no time to do normal housework sounded terrible (the “no time for normal housework” myth is another post for another time).
I guess it seems vain to think that a disruption of my physical space would keep me from making such a major decision about our lifestyle. Yet, the image of a disordered family home just really depressed me! I’m just that person and I have love myself.
It wasn’t until I happened upon a homeschooling niche on Instagram that I found out that it didn’t have to be that way. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to choose between a peaceful environment and teaching my children at home. I was excited to join a community that viewed learning as an enriching element to their family space. It doesn’t have to be three desks facing a chalkboard and a clock? I’m feeling better already.
I never knew how diverse the homeschooling community was in terms of learning spaces! Some families might have a separate room of the house, while others homeschool in spaces as small as camping trailers (usually with a lot of out of doors learning)! It really is fun to see how families do this.
Rearranging our home to accommodate real life learning took a bit of thought, but it was easier than I thought it would be. After reading up on homeschool philosophies, I was able to decide what really mattered to us. I majored on bookshelves and quality art supplies. I didn’t feel like we needed anything more than our dining room table for our main work space. A big key to making our learning space feel pleasant and homelike was to incorporate as many natural elements as possible. I thrifted some wood containers, clay pots, and market baskets to house our materials.
The corner shelving unit in the family room is our main storage area for learning materials. I really have no magic tricks for organizing! My motto is “keep less, organize less.” Keeping only the essentials also helps resist the urge to over-organize. (An over-organized space is just a pain to maintain!) These days I tend to toss like items into pretty boxes and baskets and call it good.
Most of our reading aloud is done in the family room. I usually sit in the recliner with my coffee (you know I do) while the girls color at the coffee table. When we are ready for table work we move into the dining room.
In the dining room I have a chalkboard on the wall and a buffet which I use to store flat items like workbooks, writing pads, slates, and paper. The dining room table is rarely used for eating…we crowd around our kitchen island for meals. The table has become a creative workspace where my girls spend most of their time at home. They use it for building, crafting, and drawing. It is completely normal for it to be covered with lego instructions, paper scraps, play dough and markers. (But not glitter…never glitter.)
At times yes, it is messy, but it’s a pleasant kind of messy. And not the kind that can’t be put away in fifteen minutes! I might be wearing jumpers and Keds after this homeschool thing is through (THEY’RE COMING BACK THO) but gosh darnit if my house won’t be organized!
The challenge of styling a pleasing space that accommodates homeschooling and family life has been good for me. It’s shifted my desire for that empty, magazine-perfect home into one that reflects how we live. My goal is that our house would say, “This is our home, and children learn here.”
Corner Shelving: bracket system from Home Depot with pine cut to size
Market Baskets: Amazon, various vendors
Paper Roll: Ikea Mala paper roll
Vintage Learning Poster: Cavallini and Co.
White Storage Boxes: Ikea (formerly “Kassett”, now called “Smarassel.” The exact ones I have can be purchased on Amazon, but they’re a lot more expensive!)
Mary Cassatt Prints: Simply Charlotte Mason
Paint Jars: Camden Rose
Baskets, Jars, Pots, Clay Vessels, Wood Bowls: thrifted
Collectors Cabinet: thrifted
Chalkboard: DIY from a piece of wood and chalkboard paint
Couch: Scandinavian Designs
Recliner: Pottery Barn
Mid Century Dining Set: Craigslist