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Homeschooling in Tiny Spaces


Once upon a time, we had a big 3000 square-foot house in which to spread out our homeschooling. There was a finished basement with a big, beautiful playroom for littles to run, a dining room that had been converted into a school room, a big kitchen, full of natural light, and a family room with a cozy wood burning fireplace for those chilly winter days.

I had school things organized in bins where kids could easily get to them, workboxes for Trevor and  Molly, and tot trays set out every morning for Logan.


And then we moved.


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We were tired of having so much money, time, and energy tied up in a big house, and so we decided to sell, move into a {much} smaller home, pay off debt, and eventually get a modest home on a larger plot of land.

We’ve now been in teeny house for a year and a half, and I’ve gotten pretty creative about organizing the things we need for home, school, play, and work. When you move from 3000 square feet to 790 square feet, you really need to be creative. I’ve adapted.

Here’s how:


The Kitchen

Like most families, we spend a huge portion of our time in the kitchen. I learned long ago that if I was always leaving kids in another room to go make meals or snacks, they would drift away from their school work.

Our kitchen table doubles as an art table, school desk, family meeting gathering space, and hang out. We spend a large portion of our time there. Since Trevor and Logan are not so great at sitting for long periods of time, you’ll often find them walking around, laying under the table, or sitting on a therapy disc.

Near the window we have workboxes to hold the kids’ books. Stretched above is a wire line on which we clip art projects. It is currently housing our chalk pastels from Hodgepodge and the girls’ paper bag nature journals from SpellOutloud.

The built-in shelves house school supplies and easily-accessible snacks. Fruit is always available in a bowl, washed and ready to eat {except for the day this picture was taken as we’ve been inundated with fruit flies, so the fruit is hidden in the refrigerator}.


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The big bookshelf has labeled bins on top that hold blocks, art supplies, cloud dough, a cornmeal bin, assorted puzzles, Snap Circuits, Play Doh, construction paper, and games. Below that are cookbooks, natural remedy books, and parenting books for me to continue my learning.


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There’s a row of pantry items and non-perishables. And, below those kitchen essentials are school materials like workbooks, science kits, manipulatives, and all of our Bible study materials.


The Family Room

We don’t have cable TV, and I truly don’t spend a lot of time watching… and don’t want my kids to watch too much either. So, in our family room, we have the desktop computer hooked up and sitting on the bookshelf. I can see what kids are playing during their computer time, and I can stream from Amazon Prime if we want a movie to complement our interests. {By the way, do you have Amazon Prime? It’s our third year subscribing, and it’s been totally worth the money. I get free 2-day shipping on all orders, can watch almost any TV show, PBSKids show, movie, or documentary I want to, and I can “borrow” books from the Kindle lending library. You can get a 30-day trial to see if you like it…I did, and have bought it ever since.}

There are big baskets on the bookshelves to hide Lincoln Logs, Wedgits, and board games. Books fill the rest of the shelves, and a printer and turtle tank finish off the room. One whole shelf is full of the DK books we know and love to read over and over again – Lego Minifigure Year by Year, Pirates Brickmaster, Star Wars Brickmaster, Eyewitness Books Earth, Invention, and the new Everything You Need to Know About series including: Frogs, Snakes, and Sharks.


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Everything Else

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to school supplies, curriculum, and materials. I have tons of things from when I taught, resources I picked up throughout the years just in case, and lots of toys, games, and building supplies to rotate in.

I keep these in subject-specific bins in the basement {math, language arts, science, history, geography} and in baskets on a bookshelf in our tiny, unfinished basement/laundry room/playroom. The kids keep all of their toys down there, except for some LEGOs and other building materials, and they don’t have toys in their rooms.

We decided a long time ago that we wanted to build a climate of togetherness in our home, and didn’t want kids retreating to another place to play, forgoing great relationships with their siblings. Bedrooms are for sleeping, so there is no need for toys or television in there. It’s worked well for us so far.


Teeny House

Overall, living in teeny house has been very good for us. We’ve been able to see how much we really don’t need. We have sold furniture, purged toys, and share things and space much better than we did before.

I’m becoming less of a “I might need that someday” person, and more of a “do I really want to store that” kind of person. And, you know, with less stuff there’s less to organize.

Simple really is better.

What are your best tips for organizing small spaces, school materials, or kid stuff? Let me know by commenting below.

Oh, and if you’re around and online this afternoon, I’ll be joining a few other homeschool moms in a Google Plus hangout, which is like a video-chat. You’ll see us chatting on the topic of home organization, and can comment or ask questions live. You’ll need a {free} Google Plus account, and need to circle the iHomeschool Network to view the chat, but once you’ve done that you can watch & interact live, or view the recorded session later. Hey – and while you’re there, take a minute to add me to one of your circles so you don’t miss anything.