Welcome to our homeschool space!
We have been homeschooling for a few years now and we have learned a lot about so many things, and mostly through trial and error. This new year came with a new goal and that was to simplify things for my kids so they could get to their work a little easier than before. (The box system was just not working out)
With simplifying as my new goal, we moved the school space upstairs and into the living area of our home. We brought up only the things that really mattered. I got our next big ticket idea from another homeschool mom, who changed to backpack homeschool and it was a light bulb moment for sure. With doing our school work together at the table, we didn’t need separate desks for them to work at so we placed my son’s desk in his room for his Legos and my daughters desk became the computer desk in the living room close to the action of our day, which meant bringing up both computers from the basement.
With our new backpack homeschooling, we keep the things they need to get at on a regular basis inside their packs that stay hanging on this wall. We also have one large binder with subject dividers. “I say, go get your binder and we can start school.” Anything they do goes in there, page by page and we use an easy to access paper dispenser on the side table that is under the window, for them to easily access the things they need on a regular basis. Inside their packs are also a few more workbooks they are working through. The only binders that we do not have in the packs are for Mathseeds, as this is what they do online. They still have worksheets and coloring projects with it but they bring their binder to the table from the one drawer at the desk. This keeps things ‘ready to go’ if we want to take our learning to the library or on a road trip. The two Ikea RIBA shelves above the backpacks are where we place all our library books that we are planning on reading that week or sometime in the month. They are right close to my fingertips to read and they don’t get lost in the house. You can read more about how I get our library books in this post here. Inside their binders, I created a portable way to keep their Jolly Phonics Spelling close at hand. There we have velcro dots for each letter and a velcro dot for each word they are focusing on spelling. It’s word-building fun right on the inside of their binder.
Our storage table under the window is a really nice place to keep all the things we need to get to. There are three drawers there that hold office supplies as some of the pages for our activity handouts, my laminator, 3 hole punch, pencil sharpener, tape, stapler and such. The things I keep on the top of the counter are my curriculum binders, my homeschool records binder, the stack of paper for the kids to get at easily, our writing tools caddy with pencils, markers, stickers and glue, which is great and really handy to use (it was in the kitchen section of our SuperStore for utensils). We also have a bin with all our Jolly Phonics Readers and our flash cards that I made for our tricky words (I code-map the words for each sound pic).Under the top counter are two shelves for our manipulatives in our homeschool, such as MathUSee, Dive Into Geometry set, Magnetic Letter Construction builders, Handwriting Without Tears Chalkboards, dry erase boards, our Talking Microscope, and games we love such as Candyland, Magnetic Chess Board, Dominos, and Memory. I do have some math counting pieces, dice and other games for that under there as well. The 7 drawered unit on the right, was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law and it works so great for storing other papers for handouts, themes, and any other extra paper to refill my paper stacks or other learning resources we may not be using on a regular basis. The shelf to the left of the window holds the extras such as our Small World Adventures collection and Flat Stanley books that we use for our Geography and Social Studies, watercolor painting supplies, my daughters cross stitching things and some more math games.
We have a great calendar that we use on a regular basis that the kids can build the month as we go along. I placed it on the wall beside the dining table, and next to the calendar we have our daily goals pages that I created myself. These are really nice because they are clear for my kids to see what is on the list for the day and very easily changed.
Here we change Our Daily Goals and I made it have three subjects or themes we are working on at the time. We use laminated cards with the subjects typed on them and I use my favorite velcro sticky dots for easy on/off removal. When a subject or goal has been completed they can place a colored checkmark next to the subject card. (pink for my daughter, blue for my son) If a subject just doesn’t get done we move it to the next day’s page. It helps me see what we have done that week, for record keeping, as well as a big help for the kids to see what is coming up that day. To save space on our wall, I put more velcro dots on the page corners, front and back so we can stack them on top of each other as the days pass. At the end of the week, I take them off and start a clean state.
Next is our World Map. It has been dry mounted for durability and placed lower on the wall for my kids to easily walk up to search for our current country we are learning about. We placed it across from our dining table. This I found at a garage sale. We use this map a lot for our geography lessons when we read our Flat Stanley World Adventures and our Disney Small World Adventures, which we found from amazon and our local library. You can read more about how I use our Saskatoon Public Library Online Account to better serve our homeschool here in this post.
Next to our World Map is a section where I place the letters in our Jolly Phonics as we are learning them. Each phase in the program has a set of letters that we use to spell words with. We are in Phase 2, with letter sets 1 and 2. I made these myself.
Our ‘MY BODY’ science project is on our wall as well which we have been continuing to use over the school year. It’s a great printable pack from TpT. It has everything you need for your kids to learn about their body. They can color each organ, write notes about the organ and clip it behind. It has information for you to teach as well which is a huge bonus for me, I read from the page regarding the organ and we talk about it, while she colors the organs’ picture. I write the details of what the organ does (because she still has a hard time with writing words and sentences, especially when we started the project) and we place it on her cut-out of her body that is on the wall. We have a very large roll of brown packing paper that we use for large projects like this, or for covering the table for messy crafts. It’s a fun, visual project that you can use to review whenever you need too. I have a small table where we have bins with the items I need for the daily goals lists, flash cards for our phonics words and a few other things. We have a special vintage fisher price apple baby toy that has a beautiful ring to it and we use it somethings as a bell to change a subject, or get kids attention when it’s needed. Our Ikea easel is used for drawing and doodles as well as our spelling and word-building practice. It is next to the dining table and the piano.
And then, we come to the most loved and used area of our homeschool….. the Computer Station! When we put the two computers at the desk the kids literally screamed for joy. They do their Mathseeds together, they play their Minecraft on their server that my husband set up for them (even I play too!). They also have begun to learn about a few more online games, which they love, such as Subnautica, Roblox, Splix.io, and slither.io. A lot of these games are mostly recreational and they have limits on them, such as, only after school work is completed can you go and do the other games you like to play. This does encourage them to get to their school work a bit faster, although there are days when honestly, those games are the only things they manage to do. But like most homeschool moms, we all struggle with finding a balance between ‘happy mommy, happy mommy-teacher.’
But, with Minecraft, or Subnautica, I have found it to be fairly educational on it’s on, and as it’s for ages 10+ (Subnautica) for computer difficulty and my 5-year-old is really great at it, so I say it’s ok in terms of them learning computer skills and reading the words in the game.
Overall, we love this space. It really serves us well, and we love gathering here every day together. I hope that this post was able to inspire you in your homeschool, and encourage you to continue to find ways to improve your daily routine that best suits your family. I have tried very hard to get it to this stage in the game. It may work for us, but not for others, and that’s ok! I have tried a lot of things over the months, but in the end, you do have to just say, no that doesn’t work, so let’s try this now.
Even though I know change is all there is, and we will most likely change a few more things around sometime soon, (I am sure I will post about them) I am happy to say, we are learning at home, at the dining table, and in the living room, vs recreating the school classroom at home, which was the thing I first began doing when I first started homeschooling last year.
I would love to hear any comments you all have regarding homeschool spaces and organizational tips:)
Until next time, take deep breaths,