Homes for Homeschoolers
Homeschooling is the practice of providing children with some or all of their kindergarten through 12th grade education at home, as opposed to in a public or private school setting. In 2012, approximately 3% of school-aged children received all or part of their education at home, numbers that appear to be growing as families express their concerns about the quality of education and challenges with the environments of traditional school systems.
If homeschooling is something that you think your family may be interested in, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind when looking for a home to buy or rent. While you can certainly renovate and retrofit to accommodate a good homeschooling set up, you can save yourself a lot of time and money by considering these things as options when weighing your choices before a move.
While they might look good on paper, home offices are usually too small for lecturing in, especially if you’re homeschooling multiple kids, though they can be a good place for kids to work on assignments at their own pace. A great room, finished attic or basement, studio, converted garage, den, or extra bedroom make ideal homeschooling rooms. There’s even a handful of house plans with a dedicated homeschool room – usually an extra large office space.
If you don’t have the budget for an entire spare room, look into houses that have a kitchen nook or otherwise have space for a decent-sized kitchen table – it’s a great place to learn and work on assignments. You can also have the living or dining rooms serve as a flex space: a schoolroom during the day, and a more conventional room during the evenings and weekends. You also don’t have to confine yourself to one room – art projects can take place at the kitchen table, science projects over on the counters, English lessons in the living room or library, or math lessons on the back porch. Make sure there’s plenty of room to move around between furniture – a too-small space will cramp your learning style like nothing else.
When planning a homeschooling room, storage is key! A room with a lot of closet space and plenty of room for bookshelves and cabinets will likely work best. Built-in bookshelves are a huge help, and a great place to store reference books. If you’re installing them yourself, make sure they’re tall enough and deep enough for the bigger textbooks – some bookshelves aren’t. Also, consider having a closet or cabinet dedicated to storing supplies that you don’t use every day, or that take up a lot of space – like niche art supplies, or things for holiday crafts.
If you’re renovating or building the space yourself, and considering getting into some serious science experiments, installing a sink can go a long way towards keeping everything clean. It’s fairly easy to find science instructor’s desks at bargain prices, though higher-end models can get expensive.
And don’t forget to make sure there’s plenty of wall space for maps, displays, posters, and dry erase or chalkboards.
As far as the homeschooling room itself goes, consider painting at least one wall with chalkboard paint, and the others with an easy to clean paint in case some of your kids get creative with which surface they’re drawing on. You can even paint surfaces like tables and desks with chalkboard paint!
If you want a large place to stick magnets, a good alternative to magnetic paint, which can be tricky to use, is buying a large sheet of magnetic galvanized steel (double check that it’s magnetic before purchasing) and hanging it on one wall. You can paint it or leave it plain.
Make sure each kid has their own desk space for working on assignments and their own space to store supplies. Desks can be in the school room, or somewhere else in the house. Color-coordinating storage spaces and desks can help keep track of what belongs to which kid when you’re homeschooling multiple children. And if you’re in a small space, convertible and multiple use furniture can be a big deal, whether it’s allowing desks to take up less space when not in use, or creatively hiding extra storage space. Don’t forget to keep outdoor spaces in mind too! A gazebo or shaded picnic tables can be a wonderful place to study natural science or literature in the spring and summer months.
There’s plenty of ways to organize your space, ranging from establishing separate workstations to having a single central desk used for everything to having no particular place and instead free-ranging your learning.