By contributing writer Colleen
Are you organizing your home and getting ready for the school year? Maybe you’re like me – trying to fit school, play, and regular homemaking activities and stuff in a tiny space. Is it even possible to make homeschool work when you barely have enough space to turn around?
Yes it is.
Several years ago we moved from a large 3000+ square foot house in a planned development near a golf course into what I now call Teeny House. Teeny House is a 790 square foot bungalow in an old neighborhood filled with young families just starting out, older couples, widows, and widowers.
And it was the best thing our family of six (yes – FOUR kids) ever did.
When you move from such a large home into such a drastically smaller space, you need to be creative and adapt to make homeschooling work well. I’ll show you how we do it.
We have always spent a large portion of our homeschooling days in the kitchen because I find that if I’m always leaving to make (or clean up) meals and snacks, kids drift away from their schoolwork.
So now our kitchen table serves as school desks, an art space, family meeting area, and board game arena. We spend most of our days there. However, I do have two kids with sensory issues and hyperactivity, so you’ll often find one of them pacing or rolling around under the table.
We organize the kids’ work in plastic drawers, and display artwork above the drawer carts. Our kitchen’s built-in shelf houses both school supplies and easily accessible snacks. Fruit is always available, washed, and ready to eat.
Our Ikea bookcase (see top photo) has labelled bins on top with manipulatives, games, and art supplies. On the shelf, we marry the kitchen and school space together. The top shelf holds bins of medicines, supplements, and essential oils, along with cookbooks. Below that are non-perishable pantry items, and below those are books and workbooks. In bins near the bottom are science kits, Bible study materials, and so much more.
We make organized use of every available space.
The Family Room
Our family room holds a desktop computer and monitor – our only TV as we stream from Amazon or Netflix – and baskets of Legos, Wedgits, and Lincoln Logs. I often encourage the kids to freely build together or give them challenges.
We have a bookshelf full of DK books and other nonfiction titles I think might be interesting to one or more of the kids, and I rotate those from bins I have in the basement. There are baskets of chapter books, novels, and picture books, so all of the kids can easily grab something to read at all times.
The Rest of the House
I love curriculum. A lot. And I have lots and lots of great learning materials from the years I spent teaching gifted and talented elementary school kids. And since I can’t bear to get rid of most of it yet, I organize it in subject-specific bins on shelves in the unfinished basement.
The kids keep all of their toys in a small room in the basement where we laid carpet remnants and bookshelves with bins. This serves as a playroom and storage area.
We decided a long time ago that family togetherness was important to us, so we don’t keep toys in bedrooms or common areas (with the exception of some of the building materials). They can bring them out of the playroom or play with them in there, but they need to be put away when they are done. And, if the weather is nice, they play outside.
Overall, living in Teeny House and learning to budget space as well as money has taught us to appreciate things and each other better. We remember to put things where they belong, and realize that everything needs a space, and if it can’t fit, then something else needs to go.
It is entirely possible to homeschool in a small spaces. And in some ways, it brings families closer together and teaches kids (and adults) what things are really necessary to happiness…and what are not.
What are some of your best tips for organizing small spaces?
Take advantage of these great resources to help you tackle the challenges of organizing and decluttering your home including your homeschool areas:
You might also like…
- School Cubbies
- Tips for Planning Your Homeschool Day
- 3 Easy Space Saving Solutions
- Make the Most of Minimal Kitchen Storage Space
- More Posts from Colleen
And, of course, don’t forget about our entire year series of Organized in 365: Simplify & Organize One Day at a Time!