A few weeks before we were due to start our official homeschool journey, I committed a gregarious error. That is, I made a huge mistake. I went on the internet and looked to see what other homeschools looked like- because I wanted to make sure I was ‘doing it right’. My first mistake was thinking there was a ‘right’ way to homeschool, but I didn’t comprehend or realize this right away. I became obsessed with all of the beautiful pictures of other’s homeschool classrooms. You can see some of those classroom pictures, here. There is no denying, they are beautiful- if that is your thing.
For awhile, I was pretty bummed. We live in an apartment and we don’t have the room to have a dedicated school classroom and call it selfish or whatever, but I was also not willing to restructure either the dining room or the living room into a school room. I’ve done that before, when I did in-home pre-school… I dedicated what should have been the master bedroom to our pre-school room and it was fabulous and great. Truthfully, if I had the room now, I am not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing- especially for the boys. What can I say? The Early Childhood Educator in me loves a well set up and functioning classroom.
But we’re talking about our homeschool classroom, aren’t we? Thankfully, God placed someone in my path to get me off of that rack fairly quickly. She reminded me through a facebook post to not get envious of what other people are doing. Duh. One of the many reasons we are homeschooling is to get away from the one size fits all type of education public school was giving Kaira. So, why was I so concerned about what other people were doing? Also, from the beginning I have been pretty adamant about staying away from anything that screamed school. So, why was I obsessed with how a classroom should look?
We do not have a classroom. You may recall me sharing a few pictures of how we homeschool in The First Week of School. Here are a few more to show how we keep track of things…
As you can see, I back tracked slightly on the turning the dining room into a classroom. It has always acted as central office- with the printer homed there, but now, it also includes the school/art supplies, too. On the secretary desk, we have all of the pencils/pens/crayons, notebooks and small art/craft supplies. The globe is also there (because it won’t stay hung in the air, as we would prefer it to do.) Also sitting on the desk are rulers, hole punch (3 punch and single punch). In the pink basket is the boy’s ‘work’ for the week and coordinating lapbook. (Currently, there is only one lapbook, bear with us, we are just starting out- it should eventually be filled with pre preschool lapbooks.) Hidden in the drawers of the desk are things like stamps, thumb tacks, staples, dry erase markers, paper clips/clamps and labels. Underneath of the desk, is a 3 drawer plastic container, which houses tissue paper/paper bags/ plastic cups and other decorative art supplies in the first drawer; glue ( we have tons of glue, from glue sticks to rubber glue to spray on glue, we’ve got it all) in the second drawer and paint in the bottom drawer. The printer station, is now home to all of the paper- construction, foam, print, sparkle, card stock, laminating, graphing, etc. ( I am amazed at how much paper we have and yet I can ALWAYS use more… for something…) The cabinet under the printer is designated for our important files as well as extra folders and binders we have collected over the years. Beside the printer, you will find our laminator and wood writing tools. Next to the printer cabinet (also under the desk), is the sensory bucket- it is currently empty, but has already housed water for water play and will house rice and other materials in the coming months. Finally, there is a box in front of the white plastic drawers that is where we place all of those newspapers and advertisements that come to us in the mail ( we’ve got to keep my table looking pretty, somehow!) The wall (only one) has also become a part of our homeschool. BUT, it isn’t a takeover. We find it to be a happy medium. Hopefully, as we progress into the year, it will remain as such. Especially since I can tend to be a hoarder when it comes to school work or art displays… The living room definitely doubles as a playroom, lol! (I have always been particular about the toys in my home, so everything presents an opportunity for learning, in some way or another. There are things for gross motor skills and cognitive awareness and so forth… Hidden by the lamp is our sidewalk chalk and on the white bookshelf are our games- and the overflow of books from the hallway. The bookshelf in the hallway houses books and pictures (of course) AND it is home to all of the school things we have collected over the years (when Kaira, Kayla and Kyle were in public school and people would give the/me things to help them over the summer, or what have you). We use those things from time to time, but not as frequently as those things on or near the desk… Finally, there is the kitchen…. Surprised to find that I included a picture of my kitchen in pictures about my homeschool set up? You shouldn’t be. Lots of learning takes place there! Whether it is water play, a cooking activity or simply doing the dishes- someone is learning in there!
But don’t get caught up in what our homeschool looks like! One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to the specific needs of your child or children. There isn’t a this is how it should be done rule/handbook.
Here are a few things that I think are handy to remember when homeschooling, but these are for practicality reasons and NOT because you have to do them. (In fact, I am sure others would take from or add to this list!)
- Know where your school things are (this cuts down on the stress associated with not being able to find something)
- Have a plan ( it doesn’t have to be written out in a beautiful planner or in a notebook and it can be as simple as knowing what you want to teach or have your kids learn over a given period of time- day/week/month/year; at the bare minimum, I would suggest a check list)
- Be flexible. (Nothing ever goes according to plan. Being fluid and going with the flow cuts down on stress for both you and your child/children and actually helps lessons to be learned more quickly than if the signs of stress or feelings of being rushed were present)
- Enjoy every moment of it. (This is a great time between you and your little people, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. And why would you do anything, if you didn’t enjoy what you are doing?)
- Messes are okay. (This is something you should get used to- especially if you have a tiny apartment and creative brain like me. I have learned to live with the mess during the day, because I know lots of learning is happening and then clean things up at night to start all over again in the morning…)
So, that’s it. I hope these homeschool tips will help you on your own homeschool journey- whether you have been on it for a while or are just starting out! Let us know if you have any this works best tips or this failed miserably for us stories in the comments! We can’t wait to hear them! We would also love to see pictures of your homeschool set up! Why does it work for you? Has it always been this way or do you change it up from time to time?
I recently joined a fabulous group of women, who are sharing some wonderful advice on homeschool organization. I would love for you to join me in checking each of them out!
It’s not to late for you to join the party!
Check out these great blog stories on homeschool organization!