Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Semi-Detached Home and School

We live in a lovely, little semi-detached home. Semi-detached means we share a wall with our neighbor. We have 3 bedrooms, 4 rooms on the first floor (including a small laundry room with a toilet in it which we put in because my mom has trouble with stairs), we have a basement, we have an un-finished attic, and we use every bit of our home. We have 4 children, all their stuff, and all our homeschooling stuff. Below you will see and read about the real story of homeschooling in a small home with 4 children ages 14 to 25.
I am telling you all this because the question for the week for the Blog Cruise is "How to homeschool in a small area (small space, small house, etc.)?"

Our semi-detached home is the largest home we have lived in so far. We moved here 12 years ago from a 10x60 trailer. Boy was that crowded!!!


We have books everywhere.

On the left are the living room bookcases.

On the right are the 3 bookcases in our upstairs hallway.

The bookcase in the picture on the left is nestled in a cubby on the landing just before you go down the stairs to the basement. It has my personal books on it and books for Educational Foundations, Building Life Relationships, and Home and Life Foundations. Some pantry items that need to go back on the basement shelves are sitting among and in front of this bookcase. This is homeschooling... "stuff" sitting on every flat surface in the house.

We also have one bookcase in every bedroom (our daughters have 2 in their bedroom). The picture on the right is one of the girls bookcases.
I also have books in boxes and tubs all over the house that don't fit on the shelves.

They are under tables in my room, in front of the closet in my bedroom, stacked next to the bookshelves in the hallway and in the basement, too. The books that are in boxes I am working on logging into our Book Collector software so that I will know what books are packed away where.

We also love games. This is our game closet. I want to do an updated post on our favorite games for old and young, school and fun. For now you will have to just look at the shelves full of games. On the left is our upright baby grand piano that needs fixing. To the left of the closet is a desk with a computer on it. We know have a keyboard piano in that space.

To the left you see our dining room table being used for Science class. The boys are "playing" with our physics K'nex sets. Our table often looks like this. This is our primary place for doing school.
These are our workboxes. Not ideal. Not pretty. Not expensive. A mishmash of a few plastic containers we already had and a bunch of various sized boxes. They work for us though. They are easy and cheap to replace. With my husband out of work they will not be replaced with more expensive ones any time soon. But they do the job and keep us organized, especially me. Above the workbox shelves there is a small whiteboard. I use it for writing notes to the boys. To the right and left of the small whiteboard I post our Artist prints. I print them on 9x12 paper and put them in plastic sleeves on the wall. You also see my filing cabinet on the left. The chair at the end of the table is where I usually sit.

This is our big whiteboard. It is 4' x 6'. It is located to the right of our dining room table. I especially got it for our writing program, Institute for Excellence in Writing. Here you see it decorated for the arrival of my friend Becky when she came to visit last year. It is a piece of shower board we got at Lowes and had them make one cut for us to make it fit our wall. It works great and was cheaper than the small whiteboard I bought a couple years ago... about 1/2 the cost actually. If I have to write on the white board during school my son Nathan, who sits on that side, has to scoot in or move over.

You can see my chair in the picture above with the workboxes and to the right, so that will give you an idea of the size of the room. The table takes up most of the space and we have to pull it away from the windows in order for someone to fit back there for dinner. The dining room is 17' x 8'. You can also see that we don't have doors on the closet on the left. They kept getting hit because they stuck out and we couldn't get by them, they were bi-fold doors. So we just took them off. Also we only have 3 chairs left from our table and chair set, the rest are broken. We need a new dining room set or at least new chairs. That will have to wait until my dh gets a job. My son is sitting on one of our computer chairs we purchased at a local surplus store . We have now purchased some padded metal chairs to supplement with until we have the money to get something nicer..

This is my workbox. Sort of. In my box I keep the school log with the workbox plans for the week and the record of what we do each day, oh and our attendance charts. It also holds all the resources we will use this year on a regular basis. This includes my History unit study planner, my Science unit study planner, our lapbook information portions (in report covers), the teacher books for our writing curriculum, folders with resources for our Art, Music, Hymn, and Poetry study, the Great Science Adventures books for science, and a bunch of other stuff. It is nice to have and keep near me so I don't have to get up every 2 seconds.

One of the things we like about homeschooling though is that education can occur all over the house and outside the house also and not just at the dining room table. And it does... which means homeschool stuff ends up all over the house also. Some of the areas, besides the dining room table, where homeschooling takes place include: the recliners in the living room, in the kitchen for science experiments and cooking, all over the house for Home and Life Management, outside for Home and Life Management things like car and house repair as well as gardening. At Winterthur we do Nature study and get exercise walking in the lovely gardens.


In the basement we use our exercise equipment or Wii.My daughter Rachel also sews in the basement and we have our pantry there. We also store a LOT of stuff in the basement. The basement is in a great need of cleaning and organizing. This is an old picture of us trying to organize the basement and then one of my daughter's sewing corner mostly organized... until she sewed again... and I have more boxes to go into the basement. It is a never ending project.

The attic does not get used for homeschooling but it does store stuff for us. (I have no photos of the attic)

So that is how you homeschool in a small space... you use every inch of it and try to remember that relationships are more important than a clean house. If the kids were in school all day I could have an immaculate house but then I wouldn't learn so much with and about my children. Homeschooling is a privilege and I try and keep my home organized but at any one moment you may find jars of who knows what sitting on the counter.

Click on the button at the top to see what my other TOS Homeschool Crew friends had to say about homeschooling in small areas/homes.

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SisterTipster said...

Thanks so much Debbie for this HONEST and very warm loving peek into your home~HOW often are we free to show what's just on the inside of our houses? I SO GET the sentiments you share~Have a beautiful day~LOVE the brick secure, LOVING home you have!

Mozi Esmé said...

Love all the bookshelves! And your idea of cataloguing the ones in boxes - I've got boxes and boxes of books that I'm afraid my daughter will outgrow before I have a chance to unpack them... :)

Lisa said...

Hi Debbie,
Your place is a bit like ours! Books, books, more books and games and I totally agree that family and loving relationships and our kids’ education is so much more important than an immaculate home. Hope you and your family continue to have a happy loving life!

Schooling in the Sun said...

Hi Debbie. I am a new follower from workboxes. I really enjoyed this post, and your book-loving family! Can't wait to read more.

Jill said...

Thank you so much for your post! I woke up today feeling very down because my house is crowded with stuff and all of it is disorganized. I try but the kids have other plans:) I love to see that I'm not the only one and to be reminded that my kids need an engaged mom more than a clean house. God Bless.


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