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Monday, June 25, 2012

Homeschooling in a small home Q & A

June 24, 2012 019

Some of the most visited posts on this blog are the posts about homeschooling in a small home.  There seems to be many who are in a situations similar to ours as we stretch a small space to educate our families.  Recently, a comment was left that asked a question about our home.  I’d like to answer this comment and offer some advice to this mom who is also seeking answers about homeschooling in a small home.  I know that some of my blog friends also deal with small spaces so please feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments!

Recently on this post, Amber left the following comment:

Can I ask how small your small home is? Because even these tips seem to require more space than we have. It's helpful for figuring out what others do and don't do with their square footage. We currently have three adults (my mother lives with us) and three children in 850 sq. ft. and will be starting our home school journey this upcoming year. And this house has no hallway. I am at a complete loss as to where to have a school space. Our dining room barely fits a table we can all eat at, the kitchen is a "one man only" affair, and we even have a bed in the unfinished basement. I've known other who refer to their homes as "tiny" when they have 1200 to 1300 sq. ft., which, quite frankly, sounds like a mansion right about now! I desperately need to eek as much practical usage out of every square inch we have!

Hi Amber!  Thank you for leaving a comment.  Our house is a little over 1100 square feet.  (I believe the actual square footage is 1120.)  We have two adults and five children living in our home.  One of the things that makes our home small is that we don’t have many bedrooms.  However, since we are short on bedrooms, we do have larger than normal rooms.  The living room in this post that you left a comment on is probably about 200 square feet (give or take).  It has a nice little side nook that made a nice homeschooling place.  It worked well when only three children were homeschooling.  Actually, it worked better for only two.  But now that we have 4 – 5 children working at the same time, it is just too hard to work in that space.

Last year, we ended up using our dining room which will be our school area this year too.  I’ll post pictures of that later as we get closer to the start of school.  However, when we began the school year, our dining room was actually being used as a bedroom.  (We were trying to make another bedroom that we desperately needed.)  So we creatively rearranged the living room to make space for desks.  You can read about that here.  It worked well for a while but I prefer my children all in one closer space while teaching them.  So we rearranged the house again and moved the dining room table back into the dining room. 

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Basically, it has taken a lot of hits and misses to find out what works for our family when we homeschool.  What sometimes looked like a good idea turned out to not be and sometimes what I thought wouldn’t work was ideal. 

I wanted to offer a few suggestions that may help or may not.  I hope that maybe they will at least offer some starting points that will help you find a way to use the space you have.  Maybe some others will be able to offer some suggestions that have worked for them. 

  • Use small foldable trays for desks or sit somewhere other than a dining room table.

I have a few friends who just seat a few children in the living room or other available spaces with foldable trays.  (We always called them TV trays - the kind you eat on.)  One friend seats one child at the dining room table and seats the other two at foldable tray tables.  A good thing about foldable trays is that they will store away easily. 

I’ve even seen plastic lap trays at the craft store that would make a good writing surface for any seating anywhere in the house.  My oldest son (8th grader this past year) liked to work on his bed. 

I’m not sure about the ages of your children but since you are starting they may be young.  This past year for my Kindergartner and Preschooler, we often found ourselves just sitting on the living room floor as we read or played learning games.  If the Kindergartner had any writing, we would move to the dining room table or the coffee table. 

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  • Use baskets to store children’s textbooks.

Each of my children has a basket that holds all of his or her books for the year.  They remove the baskets or their books when the school day begins.  If your children were at foldable trays, they could place the baskets on the floor at the foot of the tray.  Then when the day was over, the baskets could be placed somewhere out of the way.  We store ours on a shelf in the dining room.  But if I didn’t have that, I would find some area like a corner or under taller furniture to place them.

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  • Have the materials you  need daily in an easily accessible place.  Store other stuff in any available space.

My goal this past year was to have all of our daily homeschool books and utensils fit on one shelf.  (That is the shelf pictured at the top of this post.)  We do have a few shelves in the hall that hold children’s books and some extra homeschool books.  If I didn’t have that space, I would put the shelves in any available space that I have.  (Homeschoolers are notorious for having many books!)  Our second bathroom has an unusable shower so we have stored arts & crafts as well as manipulatives in that space.  These things are a little harder to access but since we don’t use them everyday, it’s not such a bother.  Books we don’t use often are stored in large tubs in the master bedroom closet. 

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  • Think outside of the box.

With a small house, you really do have to think a little differently to stretch the space.  Some of our out the box ideas:

  • a shoe holder on a door to hold markers, pencils, scissors, heavily used manipulatives
  • using office folders to hold visual aids instead of posters on the wall
  •  using available space at the bottom of the dining room hutch to hold other needed materials

 

I hope some of this has helped.  I also hope that any other blog readers who also deal with small homes might be able to leave a comment or two with some ideas that they have used.  We’d love to hear them! 

Amber, I hope that you’ll come back too and let me know if you’ve figured out something that will work for your family.  I’m praying for you as you work on this challenge!  Best wishes and God bless you!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, a whole post as a response to my comment! Thank you so much. I love the over-the-door shoe holder idea. I wouldn't have thought of that one, and it is one that we actually do have the space to implement! We do only have two bedrooms, and the other rooms are small as well, but I know we're going to have to get very creative and simply make it work. I really appreciate the encouragement. I'm very much an organized planner who tend to get very overwhelmed without a doable plan of action!

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  2. I know it was WAY more than you asked but your question and situation got me thinking about what I would do if I was even more limited in space. I can't wait to see what you come up with! Good luck!

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I love comments! Thanks for taking time to leave me a message. I'll be sure to get back in touch with you!

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