When I started homeschooling we lived in a two-bedroom apartment with very little space to have a bunch of clutter or homeschooling “necessities.” We simply had one small shelf and a kitchen table, along with our normal bookshelf. We had just moved to this apartment on a minimalist whim, and we were enjoying the stress-free living — but it was short lived.
Our family expanded and so our living space had to expand. We moved to a three-bedroom apartment with a bigger living room and a separate dining room. This also allowed us to use one room as the homeschool room. With that extra space came extra stuff. Our next year I had my oldest in second grade and my middle child was in “tot” school. So, I had to buy a bunch of manipulatives, workbooks, supplies, curriculum, and so on. I was soon outgrowing our extra space.
When we had baby #3, we ended up having so much stuff in our bigger apartment that we were getting quite tired of the clutter. We decided it was time to buy our own home. Huge step for us. Three kids, two adults, and one dog simply needed more room. So we went to a four-bedroom, 2.5-bath, two living-rooms, eat-in-kitchen, dining room, and full-basement home. We have enjoyed some of the space. The major downfall is the backyard is very tiny. I have found ways that, as a suburban family, we get nature study in (as it is SO important — it’s where you find God), but it has been very trying with kids who love nature.
We loved the large basement, and that is where we decided to have our homeschool room. I got it all set up. I had bookshelves, mounted wall desks, computer table, shelves for supplies, decorations, pocket chart set-up, and a carpet time area. It was glorious. It looked like a SCHOOL room. Surely we would use it!
Um, yeah…right. We soon realized that we felt like we were in a dungeon. Even though it was a finished basement, it didn’t have windows on the side where we had set up. We realized that we LOVED being able to see outside while doing work, having natural light, and we enjoyed sitting on our couch while reading. We didn’t seem to get much done in that setting at all. Don’t get me wrong, God blessed us, but I feel we were already blessed before and just didn’t realize it.
“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”
So what was I to do? I had begged and pleaded for this extra space. I felt horrible that I wasn’t utilizing it! I finally told my husband that I was moving the schooling stuff upstairs and packing up the whole basement. So, I packed up the basement and moved all of our stuff to one tiny closet, one book holder, and one nine-cube shelf.
It was simple, and we loved it! Now we get to sit in the comfort of our couch, wrapped in blankets, reading our books. My daughter will take her workbooks up to her bedroom for her quiet space, and simply work right from her bed. She loves it.
My middle daughter will work on sticker books or read with me. That’s it. She is learning her ABC’s but we have realized she is simply not ready for full academia. Some days she will ask for some papers to work on, but other days she doesn’t want to do anything. She is only four. We go to the library, and they pick out whatever books they want. She picked out Asian cats (domestic) and zookeepers. This last time it was an insect book. I will continue to let her lead.
We have other changes coming. We feel God is calling us out of the city. We just bought our house a bit over a year ago, yet we are feeling fully led to sell. We have always planned on country living. We want to be self-sustainable. Our kids love the country, we love the country, and even our dog loves the country. We knew we were going to retire in a specific area, and now we feel God is calling us there sooner. And, I am OK with that.
“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
~David O. McKay