When we first started homeschooling, back when Raygan was starting preschool/kindergarten, our school area (in our bonus room, along with our gym equipment, spare furniture, and other items without a proper home), consisted of a small kid’s table, a cup of writing and coloring utensils, a few posters on the wall and that was it! Which, for the grade level that was being taught, it was probably more than sufficient. As time went on, going back and forth between private school and homeschool, our homeschool space was pushed to the way side and received the back burner’s amount of attention.
Last year, after moving into our current home and deciding to homeschool again, we’ve utilized the space of a spare bedroom as our designated classroom. Again, as time would have it, the room had collected the rest of the house’s misfits and started to feel… cluttered. (Sorry for the profanity.) I’m not sure there’s anything else that can grind my metaphorical gears as much as clutter in my house. As I mentioned in my article Creating a Peaceful Retreat, stuff laying around without a place or purpose clouds your creativity and the ability to relax properly. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I am a creative person. I love to craft, write, draw, paint, sew, cook, do photography, and pretty much anything else that requires the operation of the right side of my brain. A clean canvas within a work space is vital for me.
Going into our second consecutive year of homeschooling, I felt it was time to finally devote some time and a little money into our classroom. After spending a year observing what worked and what didn’t in the space that we had, my focus and inspiration for the room was to make it functional, organized and fun. I took inventory of the items that were used on a daily basis and the items that were stashed in the closet when we moved in and haven’t been touched since.
Our classroom went from drab to fab quickly with a bit of rearranging, donating, trashing, and replacing. Here’s the run down of the before and after..
Furniture wise, we started with a wooden table, which was mine and Robert’s first dining room table, as my desk. It was home to our desktop monitor, printer, miscellaneous office supplies, and files and/or bills that needed to be dealt with. I used a computer chair that was purchased off of a local yard sale page, which was probably pretty luxurious in its first few years of life, but once it reached our house, it left much to be desired. Next, we had Raygan’s desk, which is an antique secretary desk that I refinished a couple of years ago. It’s solid wood and gorgeous! She loves all of the little shelves and drawers it has inside. And finally, we had a pretty heavy duty hutch style bookcase that was also a yard sale find. It’s seen better days, but I’m a sucker for the glass encased shelves that permit us to display our books and other favorite pieces.
Though my wooden table desk had sentimental value to me, it was the first to leave the room. It’s height wasn’t right for sitting and typing for any amount of time. Between its height and the office chair’s lack of comfort, my body had filed a number of complaints against them. So the table and chair were voted out. Raygan’s beloved desk, also a sentimental piece (after the hours of refinishing it took), was voted out as well. After spending the last year wheeling chairs from one corner of the room to the other like Dr. Evil, I decided it would be best to have a shared work space. We went with an L-shaped desk so we can have our own space, if needed. I like the ability to look at a book together and me being able to monitor her work and help guide and make corrections as needed. Sure, we use the floor quite often during reading time, but having a surface to write on that is ergonomically correct is a major win!
Our printer now sits on top of its own stand with baskets holding extra paper in one and our library books for the week in the other. We swapped out my old office chair for a newer, less worn, more cushion-y stallion of a seat. No more whiney hiney! Hoorah! Raygan is alternating between using her desk chair and a large yoga ball as her seat. Depending on the activity (and the energy) that the day holds, we choose the chair accordingly.
Our homely bookshelf made the cut and was able to stay in the room, though it was moved to the opposite wall. It used to house our daily school books, notebooks and binders, but the shelves weren’t quite tall enough to accommodate some of our taller pieces. Also, it was kind of a drag to have to go to the case and pull out each subject and replace with others several times a day. First world probs, right? To eliminate the issue, we purchased a small cubical type shelf specifically for our curricula. It sits right next to the desk, so I don’t even have to leave my chair to grab the next subject. Life is good.
I keep our oil diffuser on top of our curriculum stand. Our diffuser is an important part of our homeschool day. I love to use oil blends that help promote focus and concentration, peace and calming, and when needed immunity and respiratory support throughout the different seasons. I believe in the power of good quality essential oils. I love Young Living and the top notch products that they offer. If you are interested in purchasing a diffuser, some oils or just looking for more information about them, check out my cousin’s website. She’d be happy to assist you in your oily life pursuits.
Here are some of our favorite school day oil blends. Click the image to find these oils and more!
We kept our white board and U.S. and world maps in their original spots, as they are centrally located and easy focal points from all angles of the room. We purchased a few new pieces for the walls to add some interest. A clip hanger is now the home base for our library bag, a quick and easy grab on our way out of the door. And I’ve always loved the idea of shadow boxes to display outdoor findings to be admired for a while. They remind me of a museum with their professional and clean approach, while also being an up-close means of observation. We decided to display some of our chicken’s feathers in one and interesting leaves in the other (both found on the ground). I’m excited to see how these change throughout the seasons of the year.
We made our accent wall into a clipboard collage. I’ve seen people hang clipboards on the wall in places like warehouses or utility closets, but after seeing the idea on Pinterest a few weeks ago, the thought of a collage that is interchangeable won me over. Each week as our studies vary and we come across cool diagrams, artwork, and any other wall worthy finds, we can simply attach them to an available board. I can see them acting as subliminal messages in a way, visually pleasing paintings to keep your thoughts happy through out the day or motivational quotes like, “Do your dang school before Mom freaks out”. You know, whatever the week may warrant, the clipboards are willing vessels.
We scattered a few indoor plants throughout the room, because plants. Duh! I love the way house plants can brighten up a room and add that gorgeous pop of green that says, “life”. Not only do they bring joy every time you look at them, like you’ve domesticated some great marvel of the outdoors, but they also provide an organic source of air purification, and who couldn’t use cleaner air? I love the feeling that plants give to our room and the responsibility it adds to Raygan’s weekly schedule. Taking care of plants is such a wonderful way to learn how to nurture and care for living creatures, something I believe all children should learn how to do.
Our closet also got an organization overhaul. It was filled with excess linens that overflowed our designated linen closet, gift bags and wrappers, my photography equipment, games, puzzles and other school and non school related items. Picking out a game and replacing it when finished was much like that of Jenga or Tetris trying to keep the pile of boxes from toppling over onto the floor. We got rid of the extra 25 pillows that took up an entire corner of the closet. We put Play doh, art supplies, and photography equipment in easily accessible Rubbermaid containers. Our games and puzzles found a new home on a small bookshelf, arranged in an easy to read, grab, and replace manner. No more leaning tower of games-a!
Since our homeschool room makeover, our minds are cleared and ready to think and create when we enter the threshold every morning. Everything has a place and a purpose. Our new additions have helped accommodate our needs and the over all feel of the room has us motivated and ready for an awesome school year ahead.
How about you? What does your homeschool set up look like? Do you have a designated space or does your family do school wherever seems most comfortable that day? We are still somewhat gypsies when it comes to our schooling, though we’ll spend most of our days in our appointed classroom, we still utilize the space of our dining room table, the couch, the back porch.. pretty much wherever fits the bill for the lessons at hand. If you don’t have a room that you can specifically call your “school room”, no worries! You don’t need one. That’s one of the beautiful benefits of homeschooling, right? You make it work for you! So long as the kids are learning something new everyday, I’d say you’re getting the job done just fine.
Happy school year, friends! Make it a great one!