Bold Turquoise

Aug 11 2013

Homeschooling without a School Room & Staying Classy!

How to homeschool without a school room and stay classy

When we moved to the country a little over a year ago one of the first questions to cross my mind was, “Where will we do school?” While our last house had been miniature it did have four bedrooms which allowed us to have an entire room devoted to just school stuff, even if we didn't stay in there for the whole day. Now, I love our little farm house, and while bigger than our last home it certainly isn't huge either. While we have a sizeable living space (kitchen, dining & living room) on the main floor, all the bedrooms are upstairs and there are only three. Well, as you can imagine, a family of five who owns their own business can make quick work of three bedrooms- one for the boys, one for an office and Emmerson is in with us (for now).

Our only suitable option for school quickly became the dining room/kitchen table. Here is where I get really honest with you and sound like a bad mom, I'm sure, to some- this was unsettling for me. Let me tell you why. You see, I am just not a fan of tacking up school decor in my main living space. I like for my home to feel decorated and homey, not like a a glorified daycare. I'm all for cute little happy face clocks and my kids' artwork, but such things need to be displayed tastefully in my home or they make me batty! There- I said it.

Go ahead and judge.

Now, all the rest of you mamas who feel the same way and want some handy solutions (I hope), read on.

First of all, I designated an entire cabinet in our kitchen to our school supplies. This cabinet just so happens to be fairly large and on the backside of our peninsula, facing our table- pure luck (or God's provision- you choose). Now, I knew that we couldn't fit all of our school stuff in this cabinet, but I wanted to make the most of it, so this cabinet is exclusively reserved for our art supplies and any specific books we will be using this year.

Homeschool cabinet

I chose to get a large shower caddy for all of our daily supplies- things like pencils, crayons, scissors, etc… This caddy goes in the middle of the table each morning and everything is communal. Nobody has their own set- there isn't room enough or time in our day to hassle with that! So far, we haven't run into any problems… I'll let you know if that changes. 😉

Shower caddy for homeschool supplies

In this cabinet I also have a milk crate (that is turquoise, of course!) that houses our work folders (that have all our printables for the year divided into our 4-7 week chunks) along with all of the main books we are working through in our curriculum that just don't happen to be in use that day. It is very simple for me to pull this crate out and plop it on the counter in the morning so that everything is at my fingertips and I can easily refill workboxes as we go (more on this in a second).

Crate storage for homeschooling

The bottom of the cabinet is devoted to mostly art supplies, art journals, nice art paper and a few select books and workbooks that I can easily access for Judah, should he get particularly bored during the day.

Awww, yes, you heard me mention workboxes. We do indeed use workboxes- the good old 10-drawer carts that so many homeschool moms rely on. They aren't the sturdiest things in the world but we managed to get ours half off at Shopko last spring and they have just about the perfect number of drawers that we need. I appreciate that they are fairly inconspicuous, and since they are on wheels we can easily move them to where they need to be during the course of the day.

Workboxes for homeschooling

I also have this adorable little dresser that my mother-in-law refinished for me last summer that houses a few school supplies (along its our kitchen linens) but mostly serves as a table surface for me to display our globe, book basket and pencil sharpener.

But what about all those prized little drawings and dot-paintings that my sweet ones want to have displayed for all the world to see? Well, the first stop is our rockin' magnetic chalkboard wall on which they get attached and surrounded by a picturesque hand-drawn frame (if you haven't checked out my latest webisode that features my lovely wall, you can see it here). Next, I'm planning in the very near future to have frames of some sort mounted on the wall above our workboxes that will allow me to easily display their awesome projects in an oh-so-classy way! (I'll be sure to post about it when it's up!)

Chalkboard frame for kid art

Our plan is simple, uncluttered and contains just the essentials we need to make it through an entire homeschool day without running all over the house. We can easily pull things out to work with but we can just as easily slip them away and mostly out of site so we aren't heaped in homeschool paraphernalia 24/7… It's more like 12/5 since it typically does end up on the table until around dinner every school day, but hey, we're working on it!

Homeschool dining room setup
Everything out away after a homeschool day

Now, obviously, this isn't everything we own that is school-related. Over just the 2 years (this is our third) that we have been “officially” been homeschooling, we have amassed quite the plethora of supplies, books, printables and manipulatives, but I knew I didn't want these housed in any public area. So, one wall of our upstairs office became devoted to everything homeschool-storage related. (I cringe to show you this picture, but it's the truth- see, I told you I didn't get everything done! Obviously, little hands regularly enjoy dismantling this space… that isn't that well organized to begin with!)

So this is how we make homeschooling work without a separate space and I maintain my sense of style and un-daycare-like requirements! This week's Bold Turquoise On Live Webisode will take you on an extended tour of our space and also show you more realistically how it functions throughout the day, so check back soon or, even better, subscribe so you don't miss a moment of the action! (I can see you waiting with baited breath! The subscribe buttons are up in the header!)

How about you? Where do you do school? Do you have daycare-wall-phobia, much as myself? Tell me all about it! I'd even love a link to your own blog post on this topic!

Oh, and if you haven't already, then be sure to stop by iHomeschool Network's Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop to check out tons of other homeschooling spaces!

**AND, for anyone who viewed this post before the typo in the first paragraph was fixed, please accept my sincerest apologies! It truly was not intentional!!**

39 thoughts on “Homeschooling without a School Room & Staying Classy!

  1. Courtney

    Love this post! I always am needing organizational helps! My son starts 1st grade and daughter starts pre-school Sept 3rd!! This will totally get me prepared for homework! Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Allison

    We school in the living room, and it took me a few years to figure out how to store things so that it doesn’t look like a kid space. My favorite arrangement so far is: black bookshelf in the living room with photo albums, stereo, and school books (one shelf per kid) – all non-consumable curriculum and binders go here. On top of the bookshelf there are a couple school related things, 3 ring hole punch, stamps & ink pads for me, stopwatch. Each kid has a backpack kept in their closet and brought out just for school time, which contains all consumables and pencils, crayons, glue, scissors, math manipulatives. Downstairs I have a cabinet of school supplies and extra “stuff”, and small storage containers for each grade’s curriculum. Library books for school go in a reusable bag between the bookshelf and the wall until they are read, then go into the kids rooms.

    As far as daycare walls 😉 I’m not a fan either. So far we’ve kept the walls bare of school stuff, but we are probably putting up a world map this year. Good thing we love maps!

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      I have always been impressed with how well kept and uncluttered you have kept your small home! I could learn a thing or two from you! :-)

      And we seriously need to get together! It annoys me that my kids don’t recognize you or your kids (hence, last night at Calvary!)!

      Reply
  3. Kimberlee

    We, too, just moved from a 4-bedroom house with a school room to a 3-bedroom house where we’re doing school at the kitchen table. And I’m not judging you…I want my kitchen to look classy, too. My husband feels even more strongly that way. I’m trying to convince him that world maps can be classy if they’re done right(!) It turns out many of your solutions…communal supply caddies, refurbished dressers and devoted cupboards to be specific…are what I did and I can tell you, they’re really working! Your work space looks great! Oh, the memories you and the kids will make around that table :-)

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Thank you for commenting Kimberlee! And just show your husband Pinterest- maps can be totally classy! Put them in a giant frame or something! Very cool!

      Reply
  4. Mystiqua

    Ha! I feel the same way you do! LOL We don’t have a homeschool “room” either and we use our dining room table and I purchased a 6ft table from Wal-Mart that my kiddos use. After school I simply fold everything up and place it away. My books and supplies are in my homeschool “closet”! LOL No daycare look for me either…

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Main Living Space Homeschool Mamas Unite! We will prevail over the school supply madness!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

      Reply
  5. Nicki

    I love your space. It’s very similar to mine! Dining room/don’t want it to look like a daycare/where do I put everything???

    I posted my school room/dining room on the blog hop, too!

    Reply
  6. Brooketopia

    I’m in the process of “reclaiming” my main living space for “living.” It’s been a big school room for about two years, but I just couldn’t take it anymore…I need to step away from teaching in my down time, not be visually assaulted throughout dinner and family time with penmanship and multiplication charts. Didn’t bother me for a while, but I realized that I was avoiding the main living area of my house because I didn’t want to be in a classroom 24/7.

    So I appreciate your post because I’m trying to figure out how to take school back to the kitchen table–it wasn’t too difficult during the preschool and kindergarten years, but that was when I didn’t need our pantry to store food. :)

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Food shmood! Why do these people want to eat all the time?! Haha! Homeschool supplies are way more fun than food!

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post and appreciate your comment and you stopping by!

      Reply
  7. shelley ancel

    I love this! We just started our homeschool journey. I hate daycare walls unless it is in a dedicated room. Agree 100%! Trying to figure out how to store things and books without looking cluttered. Or having to walk all over the house collecting what is needed for the day. My big question is where to put the labtop or printer in a small house with small living areas?
    Thanks for admitting what some of us moms are thinking anyways!

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      I just got a “hidden office” that is basically an armoire when shut but when open it has a desk that slide out and a place to house the printer and everything. When my hubs moves his office out to the garage (and we can afford another one!) this is where the family computer will go. I’ll be featuring it on the blog soon!

      Reply
  8. Anna Vaschina

    So enjoyed this post. I have a daycare look phobia too but have it anyway. I guess it’s just for a season :-) we don’t have much space but school supplies are plenty, we don’t have much style in this season either. Cool to see how others make life work in their space. Thank you for sharing. (From Australia)

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Thank you for visiting and commenting! Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like school stuff all over the walls!

      Reply
  9. Jes

    I love seeing how other homeschool families do so in small spaces! We have a small 2 bedroom apartment and three girls and I’m a big fan of staying classy (and uncluttered) with it, I really love how we have made this possible in our own home. Our stuff is divided in multiple rooms, but because our place is small, its not a big deal. The girls have a decent sized closet with two book shelves, one devoted just to our ever growing curriculum collection. We have a “caddy-esque” set up at the dining table that is easily removed. paper trays near the printer in my bedroom and I’m in the process of making a DIY chalkboard that I plan to hang in the dining are in such a way that it could easily blend with our home decor. :) Always a work in progress-but fun!!

    Reply
  10. Pingback: Homeschooling In Small Spaces | Daughters Of Adonai

  11. aubrey

    upon reading this i came with a big aha!.. we are planning to homeschool soon and a room is a big question for me since i want a learning conducive place in the house, although we are only a family of 3 and we live in a 4 bedroom house my son seems to find the dining room/ table his fav study place… we have a designated study room in the main floor but seldom used… so ill take it from you and make it our homeschool storage area…. now i am excited to start!

    Reply
  12. janeen herlugson

    Hi, I have the exact same table as yours in the picture! and I am having the same issue of moving from a school room to the dining room. We just bought a home in the country and I will have to use my dining room for school so I was looking for ideas and came across your post. I only have 4 chairs for my table, which has worked for us till now, so I have been wondering how I would get 2 extra chairs to match but I love your bench! I think that is much better than trying to match chairs to a table I’ve had for 10 years :) Thanks for sharing your space!

    Reply
  13. Pingback: 50 Ideas for an Organized Homeschool | Creekside Learning

  14. Veronica

    Thank you so much for your picture that you posted that makes you cringe. I have been looking through so many OVERWHELMING ideas on how to organize my stuff. I was a teacher for six years in a classroom, but now I stay home with my kids, homeschooling for the first time (1st and preschool). I am grateful to you for that picture, I know I will get to the point where you are, but for now, everything I have is in disarray as I have a small space and am just getting started. Not many bloggers will share the ugly, and it only makes for depressed blog readers who are trying to make it! Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Carmen

    I am one of those people that have done the daycare set up walls and all but not by choice. You see I am like you visual clutter just drives me crazy but I thought at the time that I needed all the extra stuff on the walls and everywhere else. I was so wrong!
    I soon realized that simple is better and the kids are more relaxed too. I have changed, simplified, and taken a different approached to setting up the play/learning space. It no longer takes priority or center stage in my home – don’t get me wrong it is still important but my family and piece of mind comes first. I enjoyed reading your your story and have learn from it too. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      Isn’t it so freeing to just allow your house to be a home instead of a classroom?! I am glad you enjoyed my post and took the time to comment! Thanks so much!

      Reply
    1. MacKenzie Post author

      I have gotten them from both Target and Walmart. I think the last one I bought was less than $3!

      Reply
  16. Kary

    I’m so happy to find someone that thinks just like me on that. I even feel guilty for not feeling so exciting or proud about having crayons, papers, and boards all over my little apartment. I love this idea and I thank you for sharing it. I’m a mom of a 3 and 1 year old boys. Just decided to do homeschool a few months ago and I’m getting ready to star soon my non-official preschool homeschool. I was terrified by seeing all of this beautiful homeschool spaces thinking that if I didn’t have an extra room to do it it was not going to be as successful as it should be. Your story inspired me to do it with confidence. Thanks so much!
    Blessings!

    Reply
  17. Ashley Wright

    Great post! Sometimes even what we call a school room really isn’t. It’s just our dining area, kitchen but we do things all over the house and outside. I know the dedicated room works for some but I can’t imagine it working for us either.

    Reply
  18. Chelsea

    Thank you for this!! I am not alone!! My goal is to homeschool and stay classy so this is absolutely perfect. Yep- no hangable school print outs and borders around here, just a cabinet where everything can be hidden away upon completion.

    Reply

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