Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

Homeschooling in Small Spaces

Not all classrooms have four walls.

Most of us have all heard that one. It’s a beautiful statement, really. Whenever I see it on a t-shirt, coffee mug, or bag, I think of the places my kids have learned over the years: in the forest, on the beach, in a tent, on a trampoline, and more. One of the most unique places is on the top of a Freightliner truck. Yes, my son did his schoolwork way up there when one was parked in our yard for a short time.

What about when your walls are close together? What do you do with all that homeschool stuff?

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I’m doing something new – kind of like a hybrid blog post – you can keep reading or watch on YouTube!

Small space, lots of stuff

Homeschoolers tend to accumulate stuff alright. Packing paper, microscopes, dissection kits, a turtle shell, dried insect wings, maps, antlers, googly eyes, art supplies, and then there’s all the books! Books we get secondhand, workbooks, reference books, and books we hang on to for younger siblings. Then there are of course people who also live in the house, too – sometimes many of them!

Our Small Space

We purchased our 1980 something slightly smaller than average home in 2001, as a starter home. Now that it’s over 20 years later, and we’re still here, it will likely be our ender home also. There are 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, so at least the only ones having to share a room are my husband and I….although we both would probably like to have our own room sometimes. Our home is short on storage areas, we do not have a FROG, and we do not have a dedicated “school room”.

As I look around, and think about the shortage of space, I think about something even more important that far exceeds having all the space in the world. I’m not one to usually type in all caps, because it looks as if I’m shouting, but this time I am.

OUR HOME HAS ALLOWED ME TO STAY HOME WITHOUT PUTTING A FINANCIAL STRAIN ON MY HUSBAND!

If a mortgage is the reason that is keeping your family from being able to homeschool, it’s time to consider other options.

Small Space Solutions

Because we do not have a dedicated school room, we school in several areas of the house. The kids are older now, so most of their schoolwork is done in their own room at a desk or on the bed. Over the years though, I have tried to make our homeschool blend in with the rest of the house. Just because we “schooled” all over the house, I didn’t want it to look like it! Here are a few tips on blending that has worked well for our family over the years:

Homeschool Blending

Curriculum Closet – most of our supplies are kept here. With more and more things going digital, I’m finding I have much less stuff to store than I used to.

Chalkboard in the dining area – when it’s not being used for school, chalkboards are great for writing menus on, Bible verses on, and are fantastic for keeping score on family game night. Today’s chalkboards blend in nicely as home decor.

Portable Adjustable Table – When the kids were little, I used an adjustable table. It’s important to have them work at something that fits them, especially when learning to write. When school was done for the day, it could be folded, and stored in a corner.

White Board – We used this everywhere! It’s nice that it’s portable, double sided and folds up.

Writing Table – In my own room, I replaced my bedside nightstand with a small writing desk. I try to keep it neat, and it’s perfect when I need a quiet place to work or plan.

Coffee tables/Ottomans that double as storage is fantastic for holding board games and other large items.

Bins/Decorative Boxes – they are useful for most everything, and camouflage homeschool materials well.

Maps/Books – I don’t mind maps of the wall, or small stacks of books about the house – in fact, I use them as functional decor!

A Small Organizational Solution

I’ve found the best way to keep important documents as well as useful printables is in a Master Binder. Our binder is home to things I need to keep up with and be able to access easily. It is also a useful tool in planning. There is a quick tour of ours in the YouTube version of this post. It’s taken me more years than I care to admit, but I finally feel like I have it somewhat together! Master binder layouts are different for every family, but in ours you will find the following: the homeschool registration record, a calendar, attendance chart, class schedule, helpful printables, seasonal folders, and answer keys. Everything else I need is stored digitally on Homeschool Minder.

Less house. More home.

As a curriculum hoarder, book collector, and random things keeper, having a small space has made me more aware of things really worth keeping. There is something to be said about simplicity, and I am constantly working at it. Now that I’m a blogger, it is more difficult to toss some things. I’m always coming across something I might review this one day, or a random item that would make a great photo prop. Just the other day, I found a toy snake. My mind went from throwing it away to saving it for a potential snake unit study one day. The struggle is real!

I would have never thought my dream home would be the same starter home that we purchased many years ago, but turns out – it really is! Don’t let a lack of space, and especially a big mortgage payment keep you from homeschooling!  My staying home with our kids really is an attainable dream, and has far more value than any size home on the market.

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