It’s right there in the name: HOMEschooling.
So it’s clearly implied that we are at home, schooling. But how does that look from house to house?
Honestly, it looks different for every family. That’s the beauty of it. You get to tailor school to your family’s unique needs and interests.
In our family, homeschooling has taken on a distinctive form in our home. In this month’s Homeschool How-to article, I want to share how I layout our homeschool within our house, both in terms of space utilization and time.
It’s true- we do homeschooling at home. But, do we conduct school, just like the public schools, at home? I hear that question frequently. Many people, when considering or starting to homeschool, often imagine or literally set up a space that mimics a standard public-school room. The room might include individual desks for each student and charts and educational posters all over the walls. (Honestly, that’s as far as my knowledge of what a public school classroom looks like, but you get the point).
But the truth of it is, many homeschooling families don’t have a schoolroom at all. In those cases, school work is usually done in living rooms or at kitchen tables.
For us, we combine both methods for using space.
In previous articles, I’ve mentioned that there are different styles of homeschooling and that we are a bit eclectic with ours. We do a little bit of everything! We are eclectic in our approach to utilizing the various spaces in our home as well.
We do “morning time” in what could be called our “formal living room” (although it’s not very formal). In this room, we keep a basket with our morning books that we all read together. Any books that we have not yet read sit on shelves in that room also. When we are in this space, I want everyone to feel relaxed and comfortable so that we can connect and enjoy our material.
We usually do activities such as science experiments or art projects at the kitchen counter. We also do all of our cooking education there, too – one of my favorite activities!
We complete the majority of our bookwork in our schoolroom.
The schoolroom consists of a shared desk (me on one side, the girls on the other). On the shelves hanging above the desk, I keep a globe and the books I frequently reference. The girls’ schoolbooks and our other school supplies sit on shelving in the closet.
Those are the primary spaces where we do “school” at our house. On a typical day, here’s how we generally flow from room to room.
(I laugh when I say a “typical day” because, for most homeschoolers, there is no such thing. Every single day is different from every other one. Nonetheless, here’s a snapshot of how we use these spaces most often.)
After finishing and cleaning up breakfast, we congregate on the couch. Congregate is code for “cuddle.” Yes, we do the cutesy morning routine thing. Our couch time or “morning routine” usually consists of multiple read-alouds, a chapter book (which varies), the Story of the World for history, First English Lessons, supplemental material, phonograms, Bible study, and any supplemental materials. An example of supplemental materials might include a book on South African Penguins in preparation for our next Geography Club meeting and one on Greek gods and myths). During morning time, we aim to enjoy each other, our material, and God in a relaxed and supportive way. Then we break for individual quite-times with our journals. After that, Lorelle practices guitar while Chyler reads to me.
On some mornings, we do school outside of the home. On those days, our couch time might be moved to the afternoon or skipped altogether.
Ideally, once our couch time is complete, we have three options. We can complete any projects, such as science experiments in the kitchen. The second option is breaking for lunch. Or third, we can head to the “school room” to complete our workbooks. Which option we choose depends on which day it is, how long “couch time” took us, and how hungry the girls (and I) happen to be that day.
In the schoolroom, the girls start working through their Math, English, Critical and Creative Thinking, Geography, and any other workbooks. Here, we also complete any additional studies, such as prepping our Geography Club presentation or any art projects that aren’t messy enough to merit moving to the kitchen.
In the afternoon, the three of us usually spend time working through a yoga routine and then finish up any other work we didn’t get to earlier. Or, if the day was “ideal,” then we’re done with school for the day!
So that’s the general flow of activity when we have an ideal day at home. We love it. But there’s also a good portion of time when our learning is done outside of the house too.
Learning Outside the Home
The word “homeschooling” implies school at home, but one of the things we love about this education path is the flexibility to explore activities away from home too.
While I painted a picture of a perfect home day for us, I also mentioned that there is never a day that is identical to the last. So, how do our “other days” look?
Some days we go to learn at our charter school, Raven Homeschool. On a given month, we will travel to Raven’s physical location to participate in on-site learning options like Geography Club, art classes, STEM, Science Class, Book Club, or a holiday party.
We also may travel to Raven to attend their Parent Advisory Committee Meetings, where the homeschooling parents come together with the Raven staff to steer the direction of the educational support they offer its families.
Other days, we may meet up with our Raven community for events held outside of the office, such as Cross-country Ski Club, sledding outings, hiking, or various field trips.
On some days, our outings may be on our own for independent educational activities, or we may meet up with our Wild and Free community for outdoor learning.
When we are away from home, the kids often do their workbooks in the car or at the Raven office (if one of the children is not participating in the class/meeting). Then we complete unfinished work, as well as get to our “couch time” learning, upon returning home. Or, if the day’s activities have fulfilled our educational needs, we can leave that work to be completed another time.
Since we school year-round, our schedule allows ample opportunity for learning outside the home, as we have plenty of time to complete workbooks throughout the year.
Homeschooling takes on different shapes in and out of the home on different days. It will most likely look different during different seasons as well. The beauty of it is that so much is mobile. So, while we do a good portion at home, much of it can actually be finished anywhere.
Are you traveling out of state? Bring your work with you! Are you going on a field trip or a structured class outside of the home? Bring your work with you! Workbooks can be completed in the car, on a plane, in the RV on the way to a weekend adventure, or while mom is at a doctor’s appointment.
One of our favorite activities is to pack up our “couch time” books and take them to Jitters for a special outing. Or in the summer, we will lug it all out on the back deck or the front porch, depending on where the sun is, and delve in amongst the sun rays and fresh air with blankets and pillows all around to make it extra comfy and cozy.
Bottom line? Homeschooling can be done almost anywhere and in so many ways! Don’t be afraid to break through assumptions and expectations to make it your own. And sometimes, kids learn the most when we didn’t even plan it.
It is YOUR homeschool and your homeschool space. Enjoy making it your own!