Want to talk about homeschooling? Yep, thought so. Everybody does. And truthfully, so do I. Because its kind of cool. Mostly it’s cool because we’re still making it happen. And it’s working. Since this is kind of decor blog, however, I thought we’d start by looking at where we do most of our schooling. The formal part, at any rate. We do it (ha! I’m so mature) in the library. Because we’re fancy pants homeschoolers. I’ll do a second post discussing what, exactly, we’re doing with the actual schooling, but today, let’s chat about form v. function. Or, better yet, form and function. Because really that’s the goal, right?
We currently have a separate room for “school”. We tried working in the dining room for a bit, as well as in the living room, and we’ve found that for our kid, having a dedicated school space is more functional. The school room is in what we call “The Library“. It used to be “The Office“. I’ve rearranged the library quite a bit since you last saw it. As per usual. I really need to update the house tour section, as the house looks nothing like that now. Anyway.
The Library. Capital L, of course. The Library, as with most rooms in our house, is small. 9′ x 11′ as a matter of fact.
I needed the room to function as a homeschooling space, with room for two kids and an adult to work after-school, as well as be a space for electronics projects and music lessons. And since it opened onto the living room and I had to see it everyday, I really needed it organized enough that things could be put away easily and that it looked like it fit with the house when we had company. I recognize that not everyone needs that level of tidy, but it keeps me sane. I work full-time, I co-homeschool my kid, I do a lot of freelance writing and blogging – I just need some things to work well without a lot of maintenance. Which for the first couple months of the year was not happening.
The space needed a lot of furniture to work effectively. Into that space I needed to cram the 5 billy bookcases, a reading chair, a desk large enough for projects, filing cabinets for all the school stuff, and a computer desk. For a small room, that’s a lot to ask.
When we moved the gray sofa out of the space I kept the bookcases in a line along the back wall. There was a larger desk where the table is now, the reading chair was across from that. Blocking the doors to half the bookcases. The desk also held the computer. And the built-in desk on the other wall, it just held piles of crap. As did the desk and the chair. This is the only picture I have of the room in that configuration. It was a mess. It had all the components, but none of them were working well together. The desk was too big for the room, the chair didn’t fit and the bookcases looked great, but we couldn’t get to anything. Anyone else have a room like this? You know what you need in there to make it work, but what you have doesn’t work together?
You can see the bookcase issue. And keeping the computer there meant that the boy kept “accidentally” turning it on when he was supposed to be working. Not functional for anyone.
So I pulled the room apart and started over. The sofa moved upstairs. The giant desk went to basement storage (usually I just sell stuff, but I like the desk and think it might eventually find a home elsewhere). The bookcases went into an l-shape around one corner and got a serious clear out of decor clutter.
The big aha moment came when I realized I had a folding table that might work elsewhere in the house. So I moved my grandmother’s gate-leg table down (it had functioned as a nightstand in our bedroom). The table really was key, as its folding makes the room function for music lessons and non-school time, but unfolded it’s large enough for two to sit at for home school or for Emm to spread out at for homework. It’s not perfect, as it’s antique and a little awkward to unfold with the rug, but it’s so much better than what we had. I do like seeing that table everyday, seeing it used. And it was free.
The computer (not pictured, as it was at the genius bar) moved to the built-in desk and the home school drawers got a huge clean out and reorganization. Exciting, right? Exciting for me anyway. Better yet, I did all this a month ago and the room has stayed relatively tidy since. Everyone can find what they need for projects, books get put away as we finish the subject and there’s plenty of reading material within easy reach when certain people get “bored”. The room has never functioned this well for the entire family.
Will this arrangement always work well? Who knows. It seems that this year, especially, I’m having to adapt quite a few systems that worked well for years, because with bigger children they just aren’t functioning. But it works for now.
So that’s where we home school. And do hours of middle school homework. And play minecraft. And solder Halloween costumes. And practice guitar. And, hopefully, create memories. Good ones, not just ones of parental nagging*. Oh who am I kidding.
*you may have noticed I didn’t list reading here. In the library. Weird, right? Turns out the kids like to grab books from the space and then cart them around the house (most of the time) instead of just curling up in that comfy chair I provided.They will, in fact, go sit in the most uncomfortable chair in the house with their book. Probably because they like to hear me ask them to put things away. They just can’t get enough of that. They move things where they don’t belong all the time, just to hear me ask them to put the things way. Sometimes they pretend they can’t hear me so I’ll ask more than once. Those kids. They just love to hear me talk.