In the first portion of this “Are You Ready to Homeschool” series, I talked about one aspect that is near and dear to all of our hearts when it comes to life, lifestyles, and making that transition: money. I thought to focus this time on the physical changes that occurred within our home as we moved from spending mostly evenings and weekends in our home to being here all day.
To make a long story short, we bought this home pre-homeschooling. One thing sold us on this particular model: space. Our children, then four and one, could have a separate space for toys without us kicking them (insert agonizing toe pain here) while moving about. The house has an open floor plan, with tons of natural light flowing through large windows. It is a great house, but we were surprised at its lack of friendliness when our lifestyle changed to that of a homeschool family. Without going into elaborate details, here are some areas we had to think about; hopefully, our list might trigger some ideas for you. Please bear in mind that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint, so there is no need to rush and buy all of your intended purchases items at once. The beauty of a growing family is that the house, and its trimmings, can grow right along with you.
Considerations for your home:
Available storage and project space. Art supplies, science project supplies, and books all need a “home” within your home.
Writing/ teaching spaces. Where will your children physically complete their work? You need a space (or more than one space, if that is your vision) that is clutter-free and distraction-free. NOTE: this does not have to be formal classroom with desks, etc. You might also consider a portable dryboard or chalkboard for demonstration purposes, or even paint one on the wall.
Pull books off the shelves and place them in strategic areas to encourage more reading. This is the equivalent of dieting and ridding your fridge, pantry and snack areas of sugar-laden foods. Consider placing book baskets in locations where your children might normally watch television or overindulge in electronics.
Electronics. Speaking of which, you might want to invest, or invest differently, according to what your children need as a part of the homeschool day. There is a balance, however, of tools that help educate and tools that undermine true learning; be sure to have that discussion with your kids about what is acceptable versus what is not.
Learning centers. School is not limited to a certain number of hours, nor a certain physical space. Establishing learning centers might take time, but think about adding to your home some or all of the following, according to goals and interests:
- personal library, with books and audiotapes
- CDs/DVDs, etc., for your favorite movies or family watching time
- musical instruments
- a microscope and slides
- crafts/ building sets, etc.
- sewing/crochet/knitting tools
- more advanced art tools
One of our smartest moves was to purchase a dining table from IKEA with storage underneath its leaves. After about 10 years, the bottom of the table literally fell out. But while it lasted, it was a terrific way to clear the table after school so that we could enjoy dinner.
It is worth noting here that if you have become accustomed to your home always being show-ready, well…blessed are the flexible; they will never be bent out of shape!
Considerations for out of doors:
I began thinking about homeschooling as a Charlotte Mason purist—at least in my head. Then my CM fantasy met my coastal Texas reality, in which few people spend hours outdoors daily. My goodness, the humidity is around 100% on about 60-70% of the year! But we did make some small investments that brought nature closer to us.
We deliberately bought a swing set for our backyard. There are similar investments you might make, but there are also parks, nature trails, and a host of outdoor resources that you might want to tap into or be aware of such that we are not limited.
Our bird feeder saw mostly sparrows and doves, but we also marveled at the occasional yellow warbler.
We intentionally bought plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
If you have patio space or hundreds of acres, do consider making gardening an integral part of your homeschool space.
Branching out a bit, do not forget the local library, community center, and/or community college. These might be outlets for your family to take advantage of edu-tainment opportunities at low or no cost. Sometimes, churches also sponsor homeschool groups.
Again, regardless of the size of your space, find a spot to discover and learn while you watch the stars.
There are several links within my post that I hope you enjoy if any of these ideas sparks more interest. My list is not exhaustive, but my hope is that these suggestions will help you take a look at your home from a different lens. Is it homeschool-ready? What did/are you adding to make the adjustment?