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I love seeing pictures of other family’s homeschools. I get such great ideas and motivation from all of you! So today, I wanted to share ours. If you follow our home/travel blog, French Pemberley, then you already know we are deep into a renovation of both our home and our property (we are converting our property into a European inspired urban farm). Our homeschool room is no exception and we have several changes in store for it before the end of 2014 (I hope), but this is how it is presently, with a few exceptions of paint color.
Our homeschool has went through many changes since we started 6 years ago. Changes in curriculum, schedule, but especially where we do school. When we started, we schooled at the kitchen table, but since moving into this house in 2010 which thankfully has a full finished basement (basement levels are a good 10-15 degrees cooler year round here in Arizona!), we converted our basement into a lovely homeschool space. It is divided into sections, based on function, in order to stay an organized space while being used by 5 kids, ages 4-13, every day… We still utilize our kitchen counter for 1:1 work and art projects but I try to keep a rhythm of us doing most of our school in our schoolroom/area. You will notice there is no TV on this level of the house, or any screens at all for that matter. That is personal choice. The books and toys are the stars on this level of the house!
Two puffy chairs in front of the bookcases provide a great place to cozy up with a book, or two or three… a lap desk doubles as a small table between. The bookcases are divided into the kids bookcase (left), Mine and Mr. Darcy’s books (center bookcase) and homeschool books (right).
Homeschool books are all in labeled sections to help me find things easier, especially each year as our collection of school books grows…
A table sits at the ready on the opposite side of the room for “serious” work, and also serves as a great space for crafting and for Tim (my one son with special needs) to do puzzles in the afternoons (his favorite activity). We just repainted this wall to a cream color to help play off the natural light that comes in through two large windows on this wall. I am happy with that painting change which really brightened the space up. And we just finally replaced these school posters with a World Continents Bulletin Board Set . It is so much brighter, happier, and prettier! We also added a very small wooden table in this area to hold our globe, pencil sharpener, extra paper, etc.
Magazine holders and Bins on counters organize individual kids school books and decks of learning cards…
This is also how I organize all my speech pathology materials…
The boys bedroom and a bathroom also are on this lower level. A second table and chairs are located in the boys room, giving a great place for them to work without distraction on school work or with their therapists on therapy days… Since taking this picture, I FINALLY got their bedroom shelves up. It’s funny that Tim keeps all his models he has put together on his; while Sean’s is full of trains (no surprise there). That Unstoppable poster? I had to order that special. That is the German version of that movie poster. The American version did not have a picture of the train, just the star actors’ heads. That would not do for Sean. Funny story, when we first hung this up in the boys’ room, being this is Sean’s favorite movie, we had a hard time getting him to come up to dinner…he just wanted to sit in front of this poster and stare at it with the biggest smile on his face ever. True story. Even my CPA husband had to admit this purchase had been worth. every. penny.
The kitchen play area keeps my youngest busy while I am schooling the older kids…She has cooked hundreds of meals for us in this little pink kitchen. We acquired this kitchen before going Waldorf. That being said, this is a great moment to mention that if you make changes, like going plastic free or going Waldorf, that doesn’t mean you have to throw out everything. We continue to make changes going forward in how we decorate and buy toys, but we are not throwing out things that are perfectly good and usable because we didn’t buy them all wood the first time around. That would be wasteful. We continue to use our little pink kitchen and have since made much better choices with regard to what we buy for it…now we purchase (or make our own) felt food for our girls to play with, along with wooden toys and cookware. Like most people, we are a work in progress!
This cabinet makes a great place for the girls to store their kitchen paraphernalia. Above it, hangs a clock, some favorite signs and a large wooden basket that holds faerie toys…
We use these baskets for storage in multiple areas. They are more aesthetically pleasing than plastic bins and easier to tote around by little hands. We have another that holds Play Silks ; our favorite thing for creative play and imagination time.
Most people ask if the toys in the homeschool area distract the kids from learning.. No. The table area is left very minimalist and on the opposite side so that learning is not in competition with toys in that area. The play areas in that space enable the other kids, who aren’t at the table at a particular time to be able to choose quiet play activities or reading time. Play is very important for children to learn…in enables them to progress their speech/language skills, social skills, and the ability to entertain themselves when that is required.
What do I like about my homeschool space? THE SPACE! Over 1,000 square feet which really comes in handy during our hot summers when going outside is not an option. I also love the myriad of cabinets and closets I have for storage. I also love that, even though it is a basement area, there are 4 large windows that let in a bunch of natural light. It is a bright, open space.
What changes have I recently made? We added another portable wooden bookcase that is small, wooden, durable, and perfect for keeping the books we are reading that month, including any of that month’s holiday themed books, in one place. It was a great investment piece and I wish I had gotten it way before. We also repainted two walls to a lighter color allowing more natural light in. We removed a set of built in cabinets that the previous owners had put in but were unfinished. I lost some storage space but gained some nice floor space.
What am I still working on? We continue to go through and give away plastic toys as they are replaced with toys of more natural materials. We are replacing the windows this year. The carpeting is getting replaced this year. On my wish list is better seating down there for the reading area. My teenage boys are hard on those bean bags and seem to have already outgrown them. When they lay on them to read they now remind me of Buddy in the Elf movie when he is sleeping on his elf sized bed.
What do you love about your homeschool space? What would you love to change before the new homeschool year starts?