Today, I’m sharing how I make five kids and homeschooling fit in my small townhome. In the past, the dining room was always our main place for learning but half way through last year, and going into this year, we have been doing our studies in both the living room and dining room. Up until this past month things have gotten pretty messy, unorganized, and chaotic around here with all these wild kiddos, new baby, and complete lack of discipline in keeping things tidy. That is why last month I was in major homeschool nesting mode.
First lets start in the dining room. I have a small folding table that is suppose to be for a kid to be able to do school work at. It has become the junk table. Here is what it looked like for the longest time.
You can barely see it in this picture but I use to have these really cute woodland theme alphabet wall cards on top. Overtime they have gotten messed up and half of them ended up missing. Under the table I have a couple file organizers: one is for homeschool stuff and one is for home important stuff. Along with a bunch of runaway toys, trash, and crumbs. Here is how it looks after reorganizing and cleaning this space up…
I reorganized the shelf. There is a container for push pins, paper clips, and other miscellaneous office goods. One of the plastic bins are for our hole puncher, stapler, glues, and rulers. The other plastic bin is for colored pencils, markers, and extra pencils that are all kept in cheap zipper pouches. The magazine holder is where I keep some folders for my home and blog stuff and well as any important mail that needs to be sorted later on. Then I have a little caddy for pens, dry erase markers, chalk, and scissors.
On the wall I have a decorative clip board for hanging some of the kids art/ school work. I found this for a great price at Michaels and I love the saying “Be the good you want to see in the world”. Right now I have Beaver and Raccoon’s hieroglyphic history craft hanging up. Next to that is our Catholic art calendar.
On the table I have a paper bin that is for throwing random paper and junk in, a pencil sharpener, and pencils. I would like to keep this cleared off as much as possible but, honestly speaking, this table will very likely to be junked up 99% of the time. I do use it to throw school stuff that’s on when we need the dining room table for meals. This will be one of the rare moments it will be so clean.
Under the table I still have my two file organizers as well as a bin to put the kids backpacks.
I got rid of the alphabet cards that were on top and replaced it with Charlotte Mason’s motto “I am”, “I can”, “I ought”, “I will”. These are prints I made and plan to put them in frames.
Our dining table is right next to our school table. Since I do need to have something to write on, I decided to put up a chalkboard instead of a dry erase board. I personally like the way the chalkboard looks compared to a dry erase board. Even though our dining room is also a school area I want it to feel more like a dining room. We have a dry erase board that I do use often as well. I keep that behind a bookshelf.
Onto the bookshelves. Here is what our bookshelves looked like before…
Half the bins on this on the dark green, short, middle shelf weren’t even being used. In previous years, these were used as the kids’ workboxes. On all three bookshelves, just about each shelf had junk that didn’t belong there. This became a quick place to throw random stuff on.
Here is what the bookshelves look like after organizing them…
Right bookshelf: Top shelf is where I put all my curriculum that is not being used. The second shelf houses my paper cutter, crayons, dot markers, and the number bins. In the those, 1 has paints and paint supplies, 2 has random stickers and index cards, and 3 has all my homeschool DVDs and CDs. The shelf under that is where I keep the curriculum/ books I’m using for the current year. Four shelves down is mainly all my Catholic children’s book I have and some art books. After that are two bins I got from the Dollar Store. These are for my tot busy items. They are currently empty but I plan on putting empty containers, cups, and other things to keep the littles entertained with. The very bottom shelf is where I keep our Math U See manipulatives and binders that are for the home (a recipe binder, medical binder, husband auto binder, ect.).
Middle bookshelf: This is where we keep our printer. Next to the printer is a three drawer bin that has printer paper, lined paper, and scratch paper that the kids can use to color. On top of that is my laminater (homeschool essential!). The first shelf is where I keep extra school supplies and extra office supplies (file folders, laminating sheets, page protectors, etc.). The second shelf is where we now keep the kid trays which turned out to fit perfectly.
Right bookshelf: The top two shelves are adult books, the second shelf being adult religious books or homeschool specific. Third shelf is children classic novels, science books, and nature books. Below that is picture books and early readers. Second to last shelf is baby/ toddler books, which is why none of them are up right. Since the littles are constantly grabbing these books off the shelf, I gave up on these books being put away perfectly. The bottom shelf has two bins: one for coloring and activity books; the other is for my tot packs, games, and more keep busy stuff for the littles. Hopefully this bookshelf will stay decluttered. We are all really bad about throwing junk on the shelves. I’m starting to training the kids on putting things away in their proper places, a habit I myself am trying to improve on.
Since we are limited on space, we have our book shelves in the hall between the living room and dining room. Right across from the book shelves is a small half bathroom. Lets take a look into our living room/ homeschool area. . .
Since we are doing school work in two different areas this year, I am using backpacks to store their books in. I have a larger grey plastic bin in the living room to toss backpacks and other school items when not in use. I also keep my morning time bag here.
Please, pay no attention the wall where half the paint has peeled away 😉
Our history timeline from Tan Books Story of Civilization (which so far we LOVE) is hung up next to our couch. I have a four cube shelf from Ikea where I keep my teacher bag and books that we have been reading often together as a family. My cloth diaper stash in the two bins on the bottom. This is also our charging station for our laptop and cell phones. Not pictured, I keep our calendar/ weather board behind the couch.
To see what my living room looks like as a whole and how drastically it has changed click here.
Final notes: From the words of Charlotte Mason “Education is an atmosphere”. We do not live in a home where we have the space for a designated school room, so we have to be creative with what we have been very blessed with. What matters is we use the opportunities in the environment we do live in to educate. The atmosphere I strive for a radiant, faith, and family centered one.
What type of school area do you have? Do you have a special school room, school in the dining room, or even car school? Comment below, I would love to hear about your homeschool setup!