Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschooling in a Small Space

 I must admit that I am quite envious of other homeschooling moms. It seems like many of these other bloggers live on small farms with acres of land for their kids to roam and an entire room dedicated to their "classroom." Back when we lived in Idaho I had the entire basement to use as a school/craft room, but my oldest was only 4.5 when we left!

Now we're in California and real estate is MUCH more 3x as expensive. So we live in an apartment. Here's how we manage to homeschool 2 kids plus a preschooler. The main thing is that we're outside A LOT! Anything messy goes outside. We paint outside and do our baking soda experiments OUTSIDE! If you live in a very cold climate (it's very moderate year round here) you could get out of the house by taking your stuff to the library or a community center.

All of our book learning, reading and writing happens either on the couch or at the dinner table. Sometimes it happens in the middle of the kitchen floor or in a bed, but most of the time we're sitting on the couch. I've considered purchasing those little lap desks so the kids could sit up and have a hard surface to write on. I think it would help, but in the long run I don't know where I'd store them!

Storage is a big deal in our apartment. It's about 800 square feet with 3 beds, 1 bath and one living space. The kitchen is pretty decent sized probably because they assumed you'd put your table in there. Instead we put our table in the living room which meant I had room to put up two big shelves in the kitchen (which is important because there was no pantry and only 1 cupboard to store food!). So on two shelves I store all our main school supplies: each child has a milk crate with all their work books, notebooks and pencil boxes. The other shelf has some math manipulatives, maps, flashcards, art supplies and communal school books (like our Daily Science and brain teasers).

Right next to the shelves we have a HUGE blank wall, so that's where I hung my bulletin board, made of a hollow-core door, fabric and LOTS of staples. This is where I hang schedules, their chore charts, number charts (which we use all the time) and their art work. I take pictures of their art work so every month I can recycle what's on the board (that way we're not hanging onto things that cause clutter and we still have a copy of their work).

The 3rd bedroom in our house is the Bear's room, plus an office (a corner desk with computer) and the playroom. The closet has no doors on it, so we put a low shelf for toys, on top of which we stacked another white container to wrangle smaller toys, next to which we have turquoise container for more schooling tools.

 In these drawers I store little learning tools that aren't used as frequently as the items in the kitchen. Things like a box full of dice, geometric pattern block shapes, a geoboard and rubber bands, stickers, string and beads, alphabet stamps, a jar full of bottle lids with letters on them, construction paper, coloring books, drawing books, magnet letters and Unifix cubes.

I'm sure anyone who is fabulous at organizing and keeping things organized could do wonders with 800 square feet, but I'm not that person. I like my system because I can just chuck the stamps back into the drawer when we're done with them. I still have all the supplies I need to make our homeschool function and provide enough opportunities for my kids who have very different learning styles.

 Hopefully this can help someone who is worried about homeschooling in a small space! You can do it! Get some shelves and get to work! Happy homeschooling!

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