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This week’s TOS Blog Cruise poses the question:
How to homeschool in a small area (small space, small house, etc.)?
While we currently have a HUGE room where we can do our learning, it hasn’t always been that way. Both when we first moved from Ohio to Maryland and then for the first few months in Alaska, we had to do our schooling in tighter quarters.
The townhouse we rented in Maryland had a small ‘den’ that we used for our school. With some of our belongings in boxes, it was rather cramped in there. There was just enough room to walk around our work table with the laundry ‘room’ in one corner and the computer desk on the other side. Most of the work was done in that room, although reading assignments could be done upstairs or when the den got too cold in winter we’d go to the main living space.
Our temporary quarters on base were even tighter. I think the first temporary housing unit we were in was about 900 sq. ft. with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, the ‘eat-in’ kitchen, and the living room. We did most of our schooling in the living room, although the boys would sometimes go up to a bedroom for reading or work at the kitchen table. At one point, we even had 4 tires from the new to us Ford Expedition sitting in that living room. The photo below shows the boys in that living room.
What I found worked well in both situations was to give each child a milk crate to hold their work. If they were not actively working on something, it lived IN that container. At the end of the school ‘day’, they were stacked in a corner. We still have those containers, but for some reason more space makes them think items can live anywhere.
In our temporary base housing, we actually did less school work using books and paper. Instead, we did a bunch of work on the computer (e.g. FactsFirst, Mathletics and MathScore for math) or did our studies together (e.g. listening to Story of the World together before completing some activities.) Books were borrowed from the base library for reading and filling in spots for other subjects. Aside from a bag holding them, that allowed us to not miss having bookshelves to contain all our reading options.
Another thing I found helpful was to not hold onto every piece of paper generated while doing school. After entering grades into Homeschool Tracker Plus, I maintained a file with a sample of their work as proof of work. Even in our new home with more space, this is something I am trying to be vigilant in doing still. (Paper has a way of reproducing, you know!)
Beyond the challenge of finding space for all your items, the bigger challenge for us was working in harmony. Tighter quarters meant fewer places for the kids to go and find quiet for their work. It’s amazing how just hearing a brother breathe can be distracting to a child. That’s when I might have some of the boys go do something like PE outside (if the weather is good) or watch an educational video in one room while the other brother is doing his work in a different one.