Even back at the end of 2008 when we signed our daughter our of school early, had made the decision to homeschool her and our son and had decided to stop sending our third to preschool, I knew that our learning would take place in LOTS of spaces.
I knew they'd learn when they cooked and when they went visiting grandparents or friends. I knew we'd do lots of out-of-home learning but I guess I was a bit unsure still of what the INDOOR learning would look like. I wanted a desk or two or a big table and I wanted there to be neat toy baskets and printed posters on the wall. I used to love playing schools when I was a kid and I guess I thought that would be what I would do when I homeschooled...I would school-at-home.
We that's how we started out but that's certainly NOT where we have ended up ;) [Isn't it great that we can evolve and change as we learn and grow?]
So let me walk you through the evolution of our homeschool learning spaces over the years. I'll share what worked and what changed for us over the years.
I created a mini school room. A separate from the rest of the house room. An everything in it's place room. It took me less than 24 hours to realise this probably wouldn't work long term for us ;) It was also way too small.
I did LOVE that we had the big blue couch to sit on and we ended up keeping that for many years. A big comfy couch to curl up together on is NEVER going to be bad let's be honest ;) And I'm still using baskets.
This was the morning basket system I had set up for our very first year but these didn't last long.
I'd moved the 'learning room' into the main area of the house. It felt more open and was opposite the lounge room so I felt like there was a sense of flow between learning and life - I knew and valued that even only 1 year into the homeschool life. (I wasn't a fan of the carpet but we lived with it and it did actually hide a multitude of messes and spills!) Loved our nature table area and we've had one ever since. The kids also loved the art gallery wall of their work and the photo boards. The walls opposite (left hand side of photo) had their photo activity charts - a visual so they'd know what was expected. These helped for a while but were outgrown in favour of other rhythms.
Same room as 2010 but with a bigger storage cupboard because we had HEAPS more learning resources by this stage. The whiteboard made it look very structured and school-like but it wasn't and was honestly a helpful addition to our learning. We have had a big white board on wheels ever since and we still use it daily.
The learning room looked similar except by this stage I'd added a wall of shelving under the windows to keep Zippi's play things in: train tracks, Mr Potato Heads, colouring in books. This was helpful as she was able to get in and access that while I was helping the bigger kids. This was the last year in our Blue Mountains House.
We had moved at the end of 2012 out into our new home in the country. I was still trying to unpack boxes when the new school year began but we were happy to kick off the year here.
I loved the built in shelving on that back wall. We used the bookcase that had been in the very first homeschool room (on the right in this pic below). I also added the 'In this house we do...' wall transfer. This space worked for us but we would soon outgrow the table.
With little ones now participating daily in our learning rhythms as well as the 3 big kids, I found that activities happened right around the house - from the learning room to the coffee table in the lounge room and the big dining table in the back room. I ditched the red themed boxes for clear ones that we could see into. We added the big felt world wall map and swapped around the computer table. Mismatched chairs around a retro Formica-top table became the heart of our homeschool room.
The Formica table went into our old retro+vintage shop and so the wooden table we had previously used came back. I added empty frames to the walls and we displayed the kids artwork in these from time to time. Big cane baskets on top of an old roadie trolley on wheels housed our most read books.
Apart from changing the angle of the table, the learning room stayed fairly unchanged for the most part. We had 4 kiddos registered as homeschoolers now so it was important to me that each child had room to work and store their own work. We used folders and baskets for this.
This is one of the only photos I have of 2017's first day. We were juggling homeschooling and running a shop and so things were pretty chaotic at this point. We had added in the little green cupboard you see behind the boys in this photo. We also used the ledge for pencils and folders to create more room on the table. This was the year that the built in shelving in the wall came down.
After the renovation of the window/wall, we decided to make use of the back wall by buying a $20 sewing cabinet and used it along with a mannequin to help our daughter and her interest in sewing. We also used the wooden shelving for baskets of folders, etc. We were only a month away from closing our shop and life was still a bit chaotic. I went with a white tablecloth to kick off the year. It stayed white of course for all of 3 seconds ;)
We had another shuffle around and became part of the all-homeschoolers-own-ikea-cube-shelving-crew ;) Truth be told, I ADORE the shelving units and we are still using them. We have LOTS of baskets which hold resources or books by subject. We find this is a much easier way to access things. We also now have a much bigger table. It's an old table that used to be used by a local TAFE. I purchased it from an artist when I had my shop and there is so much room now for us all to spread out on. By the end of the year, our 2 eldest will no longer be homeschooling around this table daily.
Hardly any changes made because this layout has really worked well for us. Although this is the year that I am the sickest I've been for many years, I'm grateful we have a well stocked learning room because even during times when I feel we aren't doing much, the kids are learning LOTS and are able to easily access learning materials all around them. By the end of 2020, our 3rd will have completed his homeschooling journey with us.
We have only 2 homeschooling daily now. A lot of our homeschooling takes place in many different places: under this tree outside, around the back dining table and of course still in our learning room which is still looking like it was last year.
We have added in an extra bookshelf.
Poetry tea time at the dining table.
We also got the Childcraft out of the cupboard and placed it within reach for the little ones.
We still love this space.
The years really have flown by.
I'm so glad I have the photos to look back over because my memory sure isn't what it used to be #autoimmunediseaselife . I'm sure you know by now that learning happens in EVERY single room of the house and every space that we inhabit whether we are in the car, on a picnic or in a cafe but I did just want to do a dedicated post to how our learning space at home had evolved over the years. I'd love to see your photos. Please feel free to share! Thanks for reading. Happy learning and living,