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Are you new to homeschooling? Are you worried about having space in your home to homeschool your children?
These concerns are commonly expressed by families just transitioning into homeschool.
Parents – especially those still operating with a school mindset – may think that learning happens best in a classroom. This notion can provoke stress and anxiety for parents who don’t have space in their home for a dedicated classroom.
But are you really shortchanging your kids if you don’t have a proper classroom space for them?
To answer the question about whether you need to have a dedicated space for your homeschool, I surveyed 48 homeschooling parents to ask whether they have a dedicated space in their home where homeschool activities take place.
Here are the results:
Why parents choose to have a dedicated space
As you can see in the pie chart above, just under 40% of respondents currently had a dedicated space in their home where learning activities take place.
When explaining why they had a dedicated space, responses typically fell into one of four categories.
Stay organized and reduce chaos
The first reason echoed by a number of parents was to stay organized and reduce chaos.
Parents said things like:
“Last year we did not [have a dedicated space] and the chaos of having everything everywhere was just too overwhelming.”
“I do love having a space to keep all the things.”
“We were using the breakfast nook table and it worked but I felt unorganized and didn’t have the space I needed for my planning/teacher guides/etc.”
Separate the kids’ mess from the rest of the household
A number of parents also commented that they wanted to keep the kids’ messes separate from the rest of the household.
“I can’t stand the constant clutter in eating and common areas.”
“I got tired of them painting everywhere and I got tired of having to clear the table when we were ready to do school. I like them having their own desks to trash and clutter up. She can keep this mess in her space and not mine.”
Reduce distraction and increase focus during learning time
Some parents felt that having a dedicated space reduced distraction and increased focus during learning time.
“I turned the formal dining room into our school room. They LOVE it. It helps my kids focus.”
“And any knock at the door was a distraction and being so close to the kitchen was a distraction.”
“Our son seems to do better with a dedicated space for learning/creating. It helps him focus.”
Create boundaries between school time and non-school time
Finally, many parents appreciated that having a dedicated space created clear boundaries between school time and non-school time.
“At the end of schooling, I just don’t have the mental energy to clean everything up.”
“It keeps the school time separate.”
Does age play a role?
Some parents felt there were benefits to having a dedicated homeschool space when their children were younger, but that it was not needed as much as the children got older.
“When the kids were younger, we had a schoolroom. Now that they’re older, they just work in their rooms.”
“We [have a dedicated space] because my kids do better when suing the appropriate height table.”
However, other parents felt their kids didn’t need a dedicate space in the early years as much as they did when they got older.
“As they got older they needed some of the concentration a dedicated space can provide.”
“We didn’t have a dedicated space when they were younger, but they did both get desks once they reached high school and got computers.”
Most parents do not have a dedicated space
Interestingly, 20% of the parents surveyed said they used to have a dedicated homeschool space, but gave it up after realizing it wasn’t being used.
“I had a dedicated space for three years and found we weren’t in it often enough to justify it.”
“We had an entire school room… and we never used it. It basically just looked cute and stored all our materials.”
Overall, 62% of the parents surveyed said they did not currently have a dedicated space to homeschool.
One theme reported over and over was that their kids would simply learn wherever it was most comfortable for them.
“Everyone always spreads out to where they are most comfortable.”
“My kids have always preferred to do school wherever….on the couch, in bed, at the table, in a hammock, at our picnic table, etc.”
“The kids were very nomadic when they were younger and tended to move from couch to floor to kitchen table to front yard under the tree, or wherever the dogs were, etc.”
Other parents mentioned that space constraints played a role in preventing them from having a dedicated space. Whether it was because they had a small house, lived in an RV, or traveled frequently, these parents felt that homeschooling needed to happen wherever it could.
“We are sort of gypsies lol we go where work is, so we are mostly airbnb’ers. That being said a desk or table is enough for us.”
And some parents just preferred to make the world their classroom rather than be confined to one room in their home. Parents reported that their kids did schoolwork outdoors, at the library, at the coffee shop, and in the car.
“We’ve taken books to the park when it’s not hot out, and he’ll run around or swing for a bit in between a lesson.”
“They love sitting at a coffee shop and working or pretending they’re working”
Do you need a dedicated space?
So do you need a dedicated space for your homeschool? The answer is NO, you do not NEED a dedicated space. However, you may choose to have a dedicated space.
Here are four factors to consider:
1. Would you use the space?
If you are an unschooling family or if you are always outside the home doing activities, you may not find you spend a lot of time in any one place of the home “doing school,” making a dedicated space unnecessary.
2. Do you have space you can dedicate?
Not everyone has an extra room, and it’s okay if you don’t. The kitchen table, the couch, the library. . . all of these are good options for locations your children can do schoolwork.
3. Is the space inviting?
Is it a place your children will want to spend a lot of time in? There’s no point in turning a cold, dark basement into a homeschool space if your kids won’t want to spend any time there.
4. How do you feel about homeschool clutter around the house?
If you feel it’s important to separate your school activities from your other life activities, having a dedicated space may be a good idea. Or if you simply want to have a place where the kids can make a mess without it impinging on the rest of the house, that’s another reason you may consider carving out a dedicated space.