Our first year of homeschooling was last year. While I invested way too much money and research on curricula (way, way too much) I only bought a few storage boxes and a rolling cart to store books on. I set up on a corner of the kitchen table and that’s where we did school, hence “The Kitchen Table Classroom.” This year a homeschool room was a priority. We needed a new space that allowed quiet and focus.
The Kitchen Table Classroom
Our kitchen table has a special spot in our house and in my heart. My hubby made it for me as a gift, after years of collecting the “just right” lumber. It’s huge, stretching to fifteen feet. It’s not even a tiny bit formal. We eat at it every day and love that we have room to welcome friends and guests. It seemed logical to take one corner, the cozy one down by the fireplace, and call it our school spot. Homeschool room, check.
I never sit down with all four kids for an extended period. We do not all sit and do school together. My little kids get up early. I start right up with the two younger kids work while my older boys sleep in a bit. When the big kids get up they can start working independently while I finish anything my littles need me for. The older boys have desks in their room as well as comfy chairs and lap desks. They often prefer the peace and quiet of working in their own space. Then while I cycle through working with my older two boys my younger two play are free to play games, etc.
Shushing, Chasing, and the Reality of a Shared Space
Our house is fairly large. This should work because while I am at the kitchen table focusing on one child there are plenty of spaces for the other three to be, working or not. But that’s not reality. If I’m at the kitchen with one child the other three children are most likely within earshot. The kitchen table is literally the heart of our home. Its where everyone hangs out. Its not the ideal place to deal with one child and expect all the others to disappear. Who would have guessed?
We started this school year same old, same old. New books, same rolling cart of books. Then one day I realized I spend a lot of time telling my kids to be quiet & to leave the room. I suppose my kids are no different than anyone else’s. Except that there are four of them and exactly zero of them are quiet. The bunch of them are hummy, tappy, and drummy little individuals. I hate being naggy and negative over behavior that’s really just them being kids. They were doing nothing wrong. They were just being kids in their own home. My entire amount of patience allotted for the day was being used shushing and begging for quiet. There are way too many places my patience is needed to use it all up on little stuff!
Homeschool Room Makeover -Time to Upcycle
One particularly frustrating day in our first couple weeks of school I freaked out and hauled a fold up table from the basement. I decided to use it as a portable “school room” in my laundry room. I am lucky enough to have a large laundry room that doubles as an office space for my husband and a crafting space for me. Last year my hubby built heavy duty shelves for me that house most of our school resources that aren’t used on a daily basis. (The ones we use daily are on my rolling cart in the kitchen.) This room has great storage and even has two workspaces. But neither have room for me to sit side by side with a child. What I needed was a place I could sit down beside a child, and a door to shut!!
A card table from the basement and extra chairs from the attic made a decent workspace. A roll of oil cloth from a project that never happened covers the plastic tabletop so that the surface is better suited to writing. I used my zero dollar homeschool room for a few weeks to see what it did for our school dynamic before investing any money in it. It did good stuff. My big kids can eat breakfast and watch a show without interrupting what I am doing with my littles. I can work on a Saturday morning on a special project without making everyone else go outside. Less shushing, less fussing required.
Homeschool Room Makeover- The Basics
The decision was in. This laundry/office/sewing room/ homeschool room was here to stay. So in typical me fashion I needed to freshen up the room a bit. Some basics helped to free up space on my desk. I ordered this (affiliate link) Five Tier Steel Horizontal Desk or Wall Mount Organizer in Black. I love this thing because its heavy duty. It holds a ton of paper, keeps it flat and organized, and most importantly keeps it off my desk area.
And these super simple (affiliate link) Universal Economy Bookends in Heavy Gauge Black Steel allow me to store my books upright on my desk. While this does take up some desk space it is totally worth it to be able to see the spines of the books and not have to sort through piles of books to get to what I wanted. The rolling cart that used to hold books now holds the three ring binders that hold finished work for my younger three kids.
Ways to Make the Room Work Harder
I ordered an additional noise machine. Actually, I think we own five of these. I cannot sleep without it running. In my homeschool room it just helps drown out any background noise that might distract us! This (affiliate link) Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural White Noise Sound Machine in Black is my favorite. I think we bought our first one about six years ago and it is still white noising away! We even take these on vacation!
I have storage elsewhere in the room for items I am not using every single day. I’m a believer in keeping things out where I can see them. Books go into the closet to die. The best manipulatives get covered by newer manipulatives. I don’t use what I have and end up buying too much! Sometimes the clutter gets to me and I have to go through and minimize what I keep out.
I moved our Kore Wobble Stool to our school area. This little stool was purchased after a child (who shall remain anonymous)bent the legs on what I thought were our indestructible metal kitchen chairs. Although it is hard molded plastic it is actually surprisingly comfortable. Two of my boys love to sit on it while we work because they can move. They twirl and stretch and rock and don’t get in trouble! I often use it when someone else hasn’t snagged because it forces good posture and stretches my back; something a straight chair never does! One word of advice- use these on a carpeted surface only. A few uses on our hardwood proved it dangerously slippery.
Homeschool Room Makeover- The Fun Stuff
Now for the fun stuff, the stuff that makes me smile when I walk into the room. I ordered a few little things to spruce the room up. One of my favorites is this (affiliate link) Wall Mount Deer Head in Map Print. I wish it was a tiny bit bigger but I still really love the pop of color!
The other little colorful touch is this Meri Meri Liberty Party Garland. I used it as a window treatment of sorts. At fifteen feet long one of them was plenty long to drape across both windows. Honestly, I could have made this. But by the time I gathered enough paper and tag board I would have spent as much, if not more than I did on purchasing this! I will save my craftiness for when it is really needed!
Our kitchen table still is still the center of our home and still logs plenty of school time. But a few little signs, a handsome arrow crafted by my hubby, and my little corner is ready to go! We don’t always “do” school in this room. We learn all over the place, often not even at home. But it is a sanity saver to have a quiet space with all my stuff. Sitting there and planning my days makes me happy. While I thought the kids needed a quiet place to work turns out maybe I did too!
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