Homeschooling Without a Schoolroom: Tables

We homeschool without a schoolroom. Like many homeschoolers, the kitchen table is where much of our work happens. We use our kitchen table, we use our dining room table, we use our couch, and we make due with the space we have.

I could write up a great-sounding post about why we don’t have a school room on principle. Something about school blending in with real life and not being contained in a separate box.

SC045: Organizing Your Homeschool with Shelves & Bins

But the truth is that I’d rather have a playroom than a schoolroom, a place for the toddlers and preschoolers to freely set up a block city complete with railroad tracks, a place for the air hockey table we inherited, a place for the computers that are used both for work and for play. And our house layout doesn’t have the space for both a playroom and a schoolroom. We have space for two tables on the main level, and rather than making the dining room or the kitchen eat-in area a bonafide schoolroom (one open to the kitchen and the other open to the living room), I’d rather have them be flexible and versatile, without schoolish clutter.

How we homeschool without a schoolroom by making use of a variety of tables. Take advantage of the freedom of homeschooling and don't needlessly confine school in your home.

So, it’s a matter of the space available and our preferences for how to use it. If you have a room that works set aside for school stuff, more power to you. If you don’t, I want to share strategies for making it work without having it feel like the school stuff is ruling the house.

It’s all a matter of using the space you have in a way that fits your family and your patterns.

homeschooling without a school room, using tables

Homeschooling without a schoolroom,

using tables.

Whether you have a dedicated schoolroom or not, the most important feature of where school happens is the writing surface. Reading can happen anywhere there’s light, but a solid, uncluttered, comfortable writing space is essential for written work.

homeschooling without a school room - tables can even be outside

Keeping tables clear is hard. It is also essential.

If the table is going to be multi-functional, it’s going to have to be cleared and cleaned over and over and over again, multiple times a day. Just call it practice.

It’s like folding laundry on my bed – if that’s where I’m folding it, then I have to take care of it by the end of the day before I crawl under the covers.

If we school at the dining room table, then it all has to be put away before dinner. It’s a feature, not a bug. It’s a bonus, not a con.

How we homeschool without a schoolroom by making use of a variety of tables. Take advantage of the freedom of homeschooling and don't needlessly confine school in your home.

Even if you have a homeschool space set up, you might find kids still gravitate toward particular areas of the house or particular tables or chairs. I always did my schoolwork at the dining room table, even though we had desk space in the basement when I was growing up.

If we can offer our kids multiple spaces in which they can do their work, they can settle in and find a place that appeals to them – a small, self-directing, personal choice – that gives them a little ownership and individuality in their day. That seemingly insignificant ability to make a choice about how their work is done is actually a huge morale booster.

And what homeschool doesn’t need a morale boost? Especially in January and February.

homeschooling without a schoolroom in the kitchen

What matters is that the work is done and done well. If it’s done in the brightly lit, center-of-it-all dining room, the lap-desk on the couch, the computer table in the basement, the kitchen bar, or wherever else there happens to be writing surface available, it’s done and that’s what counts. Let some variation and option into the equation.

Just because they wouldn’t be able to change their desk situation in a classroom or change their cubicle location in a corporate setting does not mean they shouldn’t have the option in their own home with their own studies. Which is more human: home or cubicle? Which are we preparing them for: self-directed pursuits or worker bee compliance? Just because they wouldn’t have the option in the “real world” doesn’t mean they shouldn’t actually have the option in their own actual world – we should strive to be more like the ideal world than the real world, even in such little ways as allowing our kids to read or write in the location that appeals to them most if they can still produce quality work from their location of choice.

homeschooling without a schoolroom means clearing the table a lot

Provide the options your space and living patterns allow. Don’t sweat what you don’t have. They don’t need a schoolroom. They won’t languish if there is a schoolroom. They don’t need multiple places to work. They won’t die if they only have one choice. They don’t need to be confined and regulated.

Scope out your options, think outside the conventions, be willing to experiment, and see if you can’t come up with some homey, appealing arrangements that suit your space and your family.

homeschooling without a school room can be done

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  1. Yup. We don’t have a schoolroom, either. So almost everything is done at our kitchen table, or on one of the couches, or the living room floor, or sitting cross-legged on their beds. :) LOVE it this way. I have a hunch that even if we HAD a schoolroom, they’d all be in the exact same comfy places where everyone else is; where home life is happening. :)

  2. We have what my kids call a “Creative Learning Space.” Our home is open to work where the mood takes us, but the kids love to learn in the space we originally planned as a playroom. Before our move we used our sun porch a lot for writing, it was just a spot that said please let your mind flow.

    The thing that I love about homeschooling, is that anywhere can be a classroom.

  3. I agree, Mystie! Our biggest challenge so far has been setting up young, just-beginner writers. The table is not the proper size for good writing posture (when you are 6 or 7), and I haven’t always had the funds or space to set up separate “miniature” furniture or adjustable desks. So we try to make do and have rigged up various locations for early penmanship practice…it isn’t ideal…but I think it is working so far.

  4. We’ve never had a homeschool room either! Sometimes I dream about a dedicated room, but to be honest, we’ve never missed it. The kids read laying down on the sofa upside down. They sit at the kitchen table doing math. They curl up on their beds with literature. Homeschooling happens throughout the house, and I suspect even with a dedicated room… it still would.

  5. Hi, We use office desk protectors, and since they were so expensive I just taped the large envelope like package they come in and tape a big sheet of white coloring paper over the top for another child….saved $35.oo and the of course fought over who got that one. They can decorate it. It makes the writing surface smooth, which is not exactly the case with most tables, countertops and the such not meant for writing. Also what I do is mark out the area on the protector that has them place their writing papers to give them the best writing posture and hand and arm placement for good cursive and manuscript. It’s like making a desk out of any surface. Also we have Stokke Chairs so their feet don’t dangle and they are comfortable when they do seat work.

    All the best,

    I love all you ideas, keep them a com’n.

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