If you homeschool your kids or have considered homeschooling, I’d bet you’ve seen the beautifully decorated and organized school rooms some homeschool families have. If not, do a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll see there are some beautiful ones out there.
But what about all the families, like mine, who don’t have an extra room to dedicate specifically to homeschooling?
Well, I have good news for you! While some homeschoolers have separate school rooms and love them, I can safely say that you can homeschool no matter what your home setup and no matter how little dedicated space you have for school. In fact, while some extra storage would be nice, I actually prefer not having a homeschool room.
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If you’ve been following our story, you know my husband and I recently moved our family of 8 into an RV full time. Not just any RV, but a 31 foot travel trailer…definitely not a large RV by any stretch of the imagination.
Yet, I’m still homeschooling my three older children as well as providing learning opportunities for my preschooler while my toddler and baby play or nap nearby.
And that homeschool storage space, well, it’s pretty nonexistent.
While I’ve never had a specific homeschool room, I can definitely say that this is the most limited space I’ve had since starting our homeschool journey a few years ago.
Here are 6 tips for homeschooling when you don’t have a school room.
1. Stay positive about your setup.
While this isn’t a tangible tip, I don’t think any amount of organization can make up for a bad attitude. Your space may not be ideal, but if you look for things to be thankful for instead of grumbling about what you can’t change your space will be able to be a place of learning and growth for both you and your children.
For me, I’m thankful I’m close enough to wash dishes while listening to someone read aloud and that there isn’t a lot of clean up involved when we put away the school books for the day.
2. Think outside the box when it comes to storage.
Who says homeschool books and workbooks need to be kept on a bookshelf. Maybe you homeschool in the dining room and could find some extra space in the bottom of your china cabinet or buffet. Maybe there is a closet or pantry nearby that could hold bins or bags of homeschool materials. Each child could also have their own backpack filled with their books, workbooks, and supplies that could be tucked away behind a chair or in the mudroom.
Our family has very limited storage space. The items we don’t use everyday are put away under one of the dinette benches. We store those materials in two under the bed storage bins stacked one on top of the other.
The workbooks and supplies we use each day are kept in an upright bag under the table so the kids can get their own materials out each morning.
3. Don’t feel confined to one space. Move around.
One thing I like about not having a homeschool room is the freedom to do school anywhere in the home (or even outside). In fact, I think I’d still do this even if I did have a homeschool room.
Our table technically seats four, but when all the kids have workbooks out it is pretty crowded.
Thankfully, the kids can spread out around the living area and still be close enough for me to help and monitor. Typically, two kids end up sitting on the couch or on the floor. When the kids play learning apps on our iPads they move to the master bed and the lower bunk bed to help keep the noise from disturbing those still completing their written work.
As the weather get warmer, I’m hoping to make good use of our outdoor picnic table as well.
4. Don’t buy or collect materials too far ahead.
If your space is limited, you’ll need to be careful of collecting resources you won’t need for the near future. You’ll need to determine how much you can save after evaluating your space and situation. If it can be replaced in ten minutes or less for ten dollars or less it might not be worth saving for more than a year.
For our family, we decided to purge anything we wouldn’t use in the next year. We also passed on or sold materials that covered concepts we already had resources for. We’re trusting God will provide the materials or money needed to purchase materials as we need them. One item we did save for the future was our full set of Explode the Code workbooks and our sets of Bob Books, but since our children are so close and we’ll start at the beginning with Eliya when she finishes her preschool workbook this month and then again with Amelia next year we felt that was a wise choice.
5. Only keep what you love.
Homeschool books, workbooks, supplies, and manipulatives can really add up (both in price and physical number). Often the really good books and resources are crowded out and not used as often as they could be when there is a lot of subpar materials taking up space in your home and mind. There is no reason to own dozens of alphabet books when a few will do. In the same way, why have 4 addition workbooks for one child?
When we purged, we passed on a lot of homeschool items. Some we had rarely used, some we had outgrown, and some were simply extra. Right now, we don’t have much that we don’t (or won’t shortly) use on a regular basis. The books were one of the hardest things to purge, but surprisingly, the kids haven’t said a work about our much more limited reading selection.
6. Borrow instead of buying.
The public library is a great resource for all homeschool families, but perhaps even more so when you’re dealing with limited space. Simply set aside a bin or basket for borrowed materials and switch it out every week or two to add variety and learning resources to your homeschool curriculum. By borrowing from the library you can still read dozens of books on a single subject or entire series of books without having to store them long term 🙂
In the past, we’ve also borrowed books and curriculum from other homeschool families. If you have a good network of homeschoolers in your area this could definitely be an option for you.
Do you have a dedicated homeschool space? Why or why not? If you don’t, do you have any other tips to help other homeschool without a school room? If you’ve been frustrated with your lack of homeschool space, which tip above can you begin implementing to make your space work for you and your family?
Ashley Wright says
I love this article. We are using a separate school room because my son thinks he wants to but personally I’d prefer to do most of our work in the kitchen, living room and outside. I love seeing all the hands-on learning in your photos, it looks like a great learning environment! Thanks for sharing!
So inspiring. I have two kids I want to homeschool and we are in a to bedroom, two bathroom apartment. We couldn’t do a school room or clear enough living room space to have a whole school area. We never get a Christmas tree because it cramps everything up too much for me. Everyone I see has these school rooms or at least school areas and it got me all worried. So far we are homeschooling preschool all over the house and outside of it. He does his crafts and worksheets on the kitchen table or his little kiddie table. We already utilize the library and digital media and of course mother nature. Now I wonder if it might be a GOOD thing, to show the children that learning is not confined to this room or area, that they can learn everywhere. We used to do homework wherever as kids, so mine can do schoolwork wherever.
You are doing such a great job! Thanks for all the wonderful tips 🙂 This is our first year homeschooling, so the Pinterest school rooms you mentioned were certainly intimidating. We ended up just setting up a mini bookcase in the kitchen and installing a white board above it. Anything we don’t use regularly are binned in our garage. I like it because I can chase my little one and take care of kitchen duties while my son works on school. The baby does distract him sometimes, but since I’m right there I can help get him back on track 🙂 Thanks so much for this post, I was starting to wonder if I’m the only one who didn’t have the full set up!
We homeschooled this past year and we lived in an apartment, so we did not have a dedicated space. We stored her curriculum in a drawer and she just pulled it out and did school wherever!
Anita Ojeda says
Oh, boy! It looks like you’re doing a great job at keeping things simple yet making sure your kids are learning. Kudos! I think I’m a little too addicted to my ‘stuff’ and could do some purging around the house.
YES! While I have more space than you do right now, I agree with all of these things. I am especially challenged to do some purging! And an added benefit of purging is all the other local homeschool families that get our gently used hand me downs! Thanks for the encouragement.