I grew up doing my schoolwork at the kitchen table, on my bed, and on the floor. Pretty much anywhere but a desk. We had a dedicated homeschool room when I was little with tiny little wooden desks and a chalkboard in the background.
But eventually, I outgrew the desk and my mom needed her laundry room back. Even then my younger brother didn’t even sit in his desk chair. He’d kind of hang upside down and do his schoolwork on the underside of the desk.
I realized early on with teaching my own kids, that a dedicated homeschool room wasn’t in the cards. We’ve always lived in smaller homes, and while it’s forced me to simplify things, it also means that I don’t have a huge homeschool room. Even for families who do, it seems like people often end up gathered around the kitchen table anyway.
The Benefits of not Having a Homeschool Room
While I sometimes get jealous of all of the picture perfect homeschool rooms on Instagram, I realized there are some definite advantages to kitchen table homeschooling.
- It’s in the main area of the house so I have eyes on everyone at all times.
- I can clean/work in the kitchen while my son is working at the table.
- I’m able to multitask, but can easily listen to narrations or help with math problems as needed.
- When my youngest was a baby/toddler, he could play in the living room with supervision while I’m working on school with my oldest.
- It’s easy to spread out more books and materials than what can fit on a small desk.
- It forces us to clean up our homeschool area every afternoon… if we want to eat supper that is.
- It’s great for having snacks and tea time during our read-alouds.
- Multiple family members can gather around a shared space for group projects/readings.
- Because the table is close to the living room couch, it’s easy to hop on over there for cuddles and read-alouds.
Over the past several years it seems as if more and more families are gathering around the table for school. While some have returned to conventional schooling options, many have found they kind of like it. Whether you’re a veteran homeschooler or new to the game, kitchen table homeschooling certainly has its advantages.
Homeschool Dining Room Ideas
If you’re like us the dining room is an extension of the kitchen and there’s just one table to talk about. Whatever your setup is, here’s how to make it work for you. Each family is different, and each home is different. These ideas are a starting point, but feel free to make them your own.
Have a space for homeschool books and supplies. For some people, this means a few rolling carts next to the table. We have several bookshelves I inherited from my grandparents in our dining room. I have bookshelves in the living room (can you really have too many bookshelves??) with the chapter books and other ones we’re not currently using. Anything that’s in use for the current trimester goes on our special school shelf next to the table.
I also keep all of the art supplies tucked away on those shelves. That way they’re easy to grab and do a project at the table. I also keep our daily art calendar there and the globe for map study. You might also find bubble wands and seeds for next year’s garden. I might need to clean things out a little.
Nature Table Centerpieces
We’re big on nature study at our house, but finding a place to display everything isn’t always easy. My preschooler’s rock collection is taking over one of the living room shelves. And however many rocks are rehomed outside, there are twice as many there the next time I look.
Sometimes we’ll find an interesting flower or seed pod. These are displayed in the center of our supper table and used as conversation starters. It depends on who found what that day, but it often gets a place at the table for a time. Right now I have a stack of decorative pumpkins, some pine cones, and sycamore seed pods. You don’t need a huge homeschool room to decorate!
In the past, we’ve had a glass jar full of different rocks, geodes, and gemstones from a trip to an archaeology museum. Sometimes I’ll put the art desk calendar there and we’ll discuss the art piece for the day.
Nature Shelf in the Homeschool Room
This is the newest addition to our area and one I’ve been wanting for years. It hangs on the wall so it doesn’t take up a lot of space. And it’s interesting to look at the rotating nature items that end up there. A nature shelf is also great for nature study when the weather outside isn’t being agreeable.
You can stash items during the warmer months to have on hand for the colder/rainier ones. It’s an easy way to have more nature inside, without taking up precious table and storage space.
Bins Are Your Friend
I have a basket for the seashells, a bin for the family games, and then separate containers for the different art supplies. Brushes go in one bin, playdough in another. While the art supplies are in desperate need of reorganizing, keeping everything in its own clear container has been really helpful. This makes things easier to find and easier to store.
When we’re ready to move on to a certain subject I can pull just the containers I need from the shelf. Then they get put away and the next sets are pulled out. It also makes it easier for the kids to get what they need themselves.
I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to start with my end goals and work backward from there. If I want to have a family supper, that means the table needs to be clean enough to eat off of at the end of the day. If we want to have time for art, the materials need to be organized and easily accessible.
Think through how you want your homeschool day to go. What you need to do the schoolwork. And how you want your family dynamic to work. Then construct your perfect homeschool environment from there.
Utilize wall space for blackboards, whiteboards, nature shelves, and bookshelves. Keep it simple and uncluttered! Don’t want it to look too much like a schoolroom all the time? Pin things to a large corkboard that can be propped up against the wall during school. When school isn’t in session, hide it behind the curtains or a piece of furniture.
Every family is different, but here are some more ideas:
- Chores – Everyone washes their own dishes after breakfast. This clears the table quickly and takes the load off of mom.
- Batch by subject – Get the materials out for one subject at a time. This gets put away before the next subject’s books/supplies are brought out.
- Easy reach – Keep necessary books and supplies in a convenient storage area that’s easily accessible. This could be stacked bins on a shelf or a rolling cart.
- Rolling carts – Have 1 rolling cart per student with all of their supplies in it.
- Store it elsewhere – Keep books and supplies that are sometimes or not currently in use in another area (if you don’t have the space)
- Use magazine holders to organize books and paper materials by subject. Then all your student has to do is pull out the file for the current subject.
- The couch makes a perfect place to gather for family read-alouds. Keep a basket of your current reads by the couch or stashed under the coffee table for easy access.
There are so many ways to make your homeschool room work for you. Even if that means the dining room or kitchen table. Hopefully, this post has given you some more ideas for how you can make your space work for your family.
Where does your family do their schoolwork? How have you made the most of your homeschool space? Drop a comment and let me know!