When we first started homeschooling I had multiple big bookcases full of homeschooling supplies in our large dining room. There was a large white board on the wall and when company came over, there was no denying that we homeschooled. Family dinners were eaten around books, art supplies, toddler busy toys, and all while staring at a messy whiteboard. Sure I would clean it before company came and might even draw a cute little turkey on Thanksgiving but to be able to relax, not really.
Since then we have moved a couple of times and have had a dedicated homeschool space. However, in this home, that just is not possible. So, our living room is also our school room. If you have been homeschooling for almost anytime I’m sure you are thinking, why not use the dinning room, am I right? Well our dining room is also our entry way, and pretty small. So small in-fact that we don’t have a regular dining table, but a kitchen nook instead. When we are working on school we all want space to spread out and relax a bit, so for us, the living room is the best place. I can read on the couch with one kiddo while still keeping an eye on the other who might be going through a computer program.
So does our living room look like we homeschoool? Yes, no doubt, however I think I have done a pretty good job at making it still feel like home for when company comes over. It is still a work in progress but without spending lots of money, we are able to have a nice, relaxed environment for a school day, and still entertain at night. I hope that by showing y’all(yes I did say y’all as I spent years living in VA as a kid) what we have done, it might spark some ideas for your own homeschool space, even if it is small.
The first thing I did was pare down our homeschooling stuff. This year we are using mostly an online program, (More on that another day.) so I am able to get away with a LOT fewer books and supplies hanging around. Anything that I owned that we would not use this school year was either donated, sold, or boxed up in storage. Out of all the stuff we had, I only have 2 medium size boxes in storage. Everything else we were keeping, had to fit in our living room.
Now, if you remember from a previous post, we have no spare closets anywhere in the house, so on top of homeschool stuff, I also needed to find a place for all the family games. Now that was a challenge. We now have one wall, between two windows with a cubby system. It stores all the games and most of the homeschool stuff. What didn’t fit there, or was too small, went into the drawers on another wall. Mostly it holds craft, office supplies, and some sewing stuff. (With my Grandmother getting older, she passed the tradition of giving a newly made doll to each newborn in our family, on to me.)The dolls in progress are hanging out on the top shelf of our ladder bookcase, beside the green chair. Behind the curtains in the corner, near the computers, we hide our progress trackers and maps. When we need them, we just tie the curtains up and there they are, stuck to the door (emergency exit).
The round table in the center of the room use to be a full height dinning room table. My Dad shortened it for us. During school we can create crafts, work on worksheets, and pull out the letter tiles, all while sitting on bean bags or big pillows (stored in each kids room). At night it is a coffee table and the game center. I love that the kids get to be in different seating arrangements all throughout the day. Either at the computer table in a school chair, in a bean bag at the coffee table, or on the furniture. Each person has their favorite spot, but we all move around throughout the day. For silent reading time, the window seat and the green chair are usually the first to be chosen. When we are reading a book as a group, the couch has been known to turn into a Tortuga (from Wild Kratts), with lots of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals of course.
One thing that has helped us out a lot is the portable computer station sitting next to the storage drawers. It has space for my son to store his things, since he doesn’t have a chair pocket, and he can move it where-ever he wants to work. We use to have a different place for the printer, and he sat at the computer table just like the rest of us, but he never liked it and always was moving his laptop around the room to be comfy. This portable computer station, we found at a thrift store, is the perfect answer. When he is done with it, he just slides it back into it’s corner.
It would be so nice to have an area rug to sit and play games on, and more toasty on our toes. Then I remember how messy my kiddos are and realize that having no rug makes it so much easier to pick up their many, many messes. One quick sweep and I’m done, verse vacuuming and sweeping. Either way, rug or no rug I am happy with our living room arrangement. Am I done playing around with things? No. I have a few more ideas up my sleeve to maximize our small space, but for now it works. I hope you have gotten some ideas from what I put together for our home, that just might work in yours. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.