Longtime readers know we homeschool our daughter. This is not a recent phenomenon – we have been homeschooling her for her entire academic career and we absolutely love it. We get to cover so much exciting material that is not covered in traditional schools and pursue topics our daughter is uniquely interested in as far as she wants to take them.
One of the issues with homeschooling over the long haul is you acquire a lot of stuff. Books, books, and more books. Art supplies. Music. Our daughter is a quirky STEM-gifted kid on top of all that, and requested that we build her a home laboratory. That was our Christmas present to her last year. We bought her professional lab equipment. It all has to go somewhere.
I have always kind of groaned at people (usually new homeschoolers with very young children) posting pictures of their “homeschooling rooms” on social media because they tend to treat their homeschooling rooms like status symbols instead of living spaces where the messiness of learning happens. Their rooms look like they were staged by Joanna Gaines, all neutral colors (because you know children love those) and mostly empty bookshelves with strategically placed Montessori games and whatnot. It’s basically everything people loathe about Instagram. It’s also kind of a weird development in the homeschool community in general. Homeschooling moms have historically been of the “drilling your elementary school kid on Latin conjugations” persuasion rather than wannabe fashionistas. This is a space that is supposed to be about the child, not about the parents. It’s like the people who HGTV-up their children’s bedrooms, because heaven knows their kindergartener wants to be surrounded by blue-and-white chinoiserie instead of, you know, toys.
Anyhow, I am pretty proud of the actual learning space we have built for our daughter over the past year. I figured I would share what a homeschooling room that wasn’t bought wholesale at Pottery Barn looks like.
We inherited an enormous crafting table from the previous owners, which can fold up against the wall if you are doing an activity that requires a lot of floor space. I would have never thought of installing such a thing, but it’s now a luxury I cannot imagine being without. Because our South Florida house is built around a courtyard with a pool, the homeschool room can be completely opened up to the outdoors. It is so nice to be able to listen to the birds sing as we work. Before we moved here, we packed up our books and took our work outside a lot.
One of the most charming things about homeschooling is how much our pets love school time. We try to avoid relying on textbooks for learning, and read a lot of high-quality literature and history and science books out loud. Sherlock Holmes, our rough coat Jack Russell terrier, the cat, and even our pet lizard will gather in the homeschool room to listen to stories every day, without fail. I feel like this says something about the nature of education, too. There is something absolutely primal about storytelling that makes living things want to drop everything and pay attention. This is something folks who use rote techniques miss. If your kid is distracted, it’s not necessarily the kid’s fault. Anyway, we moved a pet bed into the homeschool room in order to include them comfortably.