I recently heard a mom discussing the must-haves of homeschooling and one of the must-haves she mentioned was a special room devoted to homeschooling.
While I understand the luxury of having a special room to store materials, I find declarations such as that utterly false, and they can really deter a lot of parents from homeschooling their children.
Many parents are already afraid they aren’t educated enough, or home enough, or patient enough, and now they are also being told they need a special room in their house to homeschool?
All across the country, children are preparing for their special room or rooms for schooling. From August to about June, those children will be in one room, or switch between several rooms with some variations. Sometimes they’ll get lucky and work in small groups, but other than that, they’ll be sitting at their seats, while their teacher stands before them, presenting information.
We are homeschoolers and one of our luxuries is that we do not have to be bound to a room like schools.
Do designated rooms improve learning? No.
Can children learn without designated rooms? Of course they can.
You Can Homeschool Effectively without A Homeschool Room
To put it short, you do not need a designated space for learning. My daughter learns wherever we go. Last week, she learned at Wendy’s when we popped in for a junk food lunch. She learned at a local farm, where she chased butterflies and visited an old spring house. She also learned in our kitchen, where she helped me make pizzas for dinner, did her math lessons, and began building a zombie robot. She learned in bed, where we had read alouds and watched movies together. She learned at Grandma’s house, where she made crafts.
Learning isn’t an activity separate from life. All of life is learning. When we separate it from living, we turn it into a chore and learning is not a chore. It’s one of our greatest gifts.
You May Need Special Storage
While you absolutely do not need a special room designated for learning, you may need storage especially for your materials. Then again, you may not.
If you look online at many homeschool accounts, you’ll likely see gorgeously decorated, immaculately kept spaces. And while this is nice, you do not need to be sterile in your storage.
You don’t have to raid IKEA for matching containers and other trinkets that seem so nice. You can reduce your footprint and reuse materials you already have on hand, that may otherwise be thrown out.
- Coffee cans
- Empty pickle jars
- Small boxes with hinged lids
- Plastic bowls with or without lids
Excellent, simple storage:
- Old bookshelves (you can even paint one with your child!)
- New, inexpensive bookshelves (the IKEA Billy bookcase works well for us)
- A low kitchen cabinet (makes it easy for kids to grab what they need)
- Hooks at child level for aprons, and other necessities
I love keeping things out where my daughter can reach them any time she wishes to get creative. This may not work for you, especially if you have carpet or little ones who may turn your home into a splash paint art exhibit, but I think it’s a good idea to leave some materials out for children at all times for when the creative urge hits: construction paper and super washable markers, for example.
Set your expectations and model how you want your children to use the materials and they’ll very likely follow suit. This will make it much easier for them to learn anywhere. For example, my daughter knows she may not paint at our new kitchen table, but she may lay out paper on our library floor and work there. (The floor needs to be sanded, so a little paint isn’t going to hurt it).
Organize and Eliminate Often
In order to maintain organization, you’ll need to stay on top of it. Go through your materials on a regular basis.
Clear out the old broken crayons – maybe melt them to make new ones in fun shapes
Clear out and recycle used paper as you’re able – where we live, we only just learned we can recycle! So excited to get that going.
Clear out any broken trinkets or toys.
Reorganize so that you always know where things are.
Displaying Your Child’s Work
I think it’s important to display our children’s work. The refrigerator is a great old stand-by. If you’d like a more intentional display, purchase a frame and rotate your child’s artwork and hang it in a prominent space. Let them decorate their room with what they’ve made. Hang a piece in the living room, even! Our home is a space for everyone, including the children.
You don’t need a lot of materials to homeschool, even though it may seem like you do. I’d give suggestions here, but I think it’s best for you and your children to decide, based on what your child is interested in.
I will say this: shop around. For example, I purchased a science curriculum for $28 instead of the curriculum we used last year that was over $100. It’s specific to earth science, which is what my daughter asked to learn more about.
I bought the second level for her math, but found it for $87 instead of $125.
You can find fun manipulative sat your local parent-teacher store, or on Amazon, or you can use what you have at home! We really don’t need a lot of stuff to learn and honestly, teaching kids that they need colorful plastic bears for math, for example, can be limiting, when they can easily use other items.
Use your local library for books, rather than buying. If you really want to buy, visit discount book stores, or even your local charity shop for great deals.
Give your children the gift of living and learning. They will learn. They are naturally inclined to do so. They do not need the latest gadgets or a special space to learn.
They need freedom, encouragement, and experiences.
They also need you and your genuine interest in what they’re interested in.
I encourage you to have fun with your homeschool adventure. Let go of the expectations and loosen up the reins a little.
You got this.