So, you’ve decided to homeschool. Now what? What do you do with all that curriculum? The books? What about the supplies?
First, take a deep breath. There are families that homeschool out of plastic milk crates at the kitchen table, with pull down maps hidden behind the laundry room door. Their kids turn out just fine. Just for fun, though, I’m throwing pictures of our learning space in the ring. This is one of my favorite rooms and we often hang out in our library even when we’re not schooling.
Our library resides in the former bedroom of one of our older (now graduated to real life) children. Our younger two share a small room just so we can have a library and an office (in another former bedroom). They seem to enjoy sleeping in bunkbeds – and they play elsewhere, so it works for us.
A homeschool space does not need to be an expensive endevour. We constructed ours over time with the help of my dear friend, Craigslist. We have a variety of bookshelves, including some wonderful “paperback” shelves (shallow shelves about 8 1/4″ apart, allowing for the storage of hundreds of paperbacks). My stellar husband cut these shelves (which I purchased for $5 each) apart – then put them back together so they’d fit. On these shelves, we store our free-read and literature books, organized by the author’s last name. Our larger lit books go on another larger, adjustable shelving unit, also organized by last name. Under the window, we shelve biographies by last name of the subject. (Oh, how we love biographies!)
We have a CD/cassette stereo for audiobooks (a garage sale find), and a loveseat for me. The kids also love to cuddle for read-alouds – if “cuddle” includes hanging off the arms upside down, and standing on the back to fly lego planes.
Behind the couch are more of those custom-fit paperback shelves. In case I find enough $.50 books to fill up the other ones.
Our gigantic magazine selection (what can I say? – I’m a freelance writer!) is within reach of little hands. Below, we store our language, geography, language arts and science reference books in separate sections. I have given up trying to organize these further. My kids are frequently found on the floor with five or six science books spread around them. It’s enough for them to remember which cubicle to put them back in… I do want to encourage the joy of “research” and learning.
Behind the door, we store our white board. What would we do without one?
We store our curriculum and books for the year on a separate shelf (to the right of the armchair). This makes it easy to find. Everyone knows where their work is located. Above, my husband and I store our favorite magazines. By the time my kids can reach them, they’ll be able old enough to read great articles about worldview and biblical archaeology.
The red chair is for my husband (don’t tell anyone – it was a free find from the sidewalk). He enjoys hanging out with us when he’s home. Behind the armchair is an deep closet where we store many of our supplies.
The table? It was a $5 coffee table from Goodwill. My husband removed the legs, added longer ones (don’t ask me why we had table legs stored in the garage), and we found two old school chairs from a closed international school. I painted everything with acrylics, and my husband applied 3 coats of polyurethane. It’s indestructible, and you can’t even tell it’s constructed from scrap! My kids chose the theme, and they love sitting there.
However you choose to store your supplies, books and curriculum, enjoy the journey. We love our space, and we’ve made it ours, but it’s just a bonus. For us, the real joy is spending time together learning!
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.