THE SMITH HOME
Our School Space
The physical space around you either invites the Spirit or detracts from it. When your home invites the Spirit it becomes “a house of learning.” I’ve made it my goal to surround my family with things that are beautiful and functional, but most importantly invites the Spirit.
Over the years of being homeschooled myself and now teaching my own children, I have found these things to be essential for a schoolroom: large chalkboard, map or globe, clock, oversized table, and bookshelves. I’ve also noticed it helps to have plenty of natural light and wall space, as well as the room being close to the main living area. In the past I had a school room in the basement as well as a room off the garage, both were unused because they were too far away from where most of our living happened.
In our current home, the only room that fit all my criteria was the dining room–which seems to be a common theme among homeschool families. As soon as we were moved in, I made a chalkboard, bought a vintage rolling map from Craigslist, and asked my husband to create shelves. Since our schoolroom is in the central place where we spend most of our time eating and pondering, my boys look at our large map, chalkboard, or artwork all day long. I love that the atmosphere they live in is full of beauty and rich ideas.
There is definitely some conflict of interest since our school space is right in the middle of our living space; we need to clear the table when it’s time to eat, wipe the table when it’s time to do school, etc. To remedy this, I made it as simple as possible to clean up by giving each boy a magazine holder to store all their notebooks and school books. They put each book back in the holder when they’re done, and when it’s time to clean up for a meal they only need to put one thing away. Wire baskets also work great for this purpose.
We store all the school materials we are currently using on the shelves in our living room, only about 5 feet away from the table. I don’t want our main living area to look like a kindergarten classroom covered with plastic and brightly-colored posters. Instead, I use containers that are both functional and beautiful, like baskets and wooden trays. I put threading beads, pattern blocks, simple puzzles, and origami on the wooden trays so my kids can easily put them back when they’re done. I’ve also found it extremely helpful to use an art material organizer, like the white one above. It is just an old utensil organizer from Pampered Chef, but it is one of the most useful organizers I own. Ikea has a wonderful toolbox where I keep my second grader’s handicraft and art supplies. I also use wooden trays to keep activities and crafts for my younger boys. It helps to keep all the supplies for the craft/activity in one place, otherwise the activity never happens.