This Old Schoolhouse or Keeping The Madness Contained

Inspired by the stunning array of homeschool classrooms that are clogging my Pinterest feed, I thought I would show the layout of our school room to 1. alleviate your fears that homeschooling must be done in a replica Montessori classroom and 2. show that a dedicated space for school work is helpful.

Our house is not large by any means, however I learned early on that getting school off my dining table was a huge help in eliminating stress throughout the day. Especially as the kids got older and each required a larger number, and size, of books. I have messy kids and neat kids when they shared a table for meals and school, it resulted in more crying over spilled milk than I care to recall.

Through the years, I tried to move school to a table in the basement. But since we have a cold, dark, unfinished basement this didn’t work during floods or the entire winter. The kids also didn’t want to work down there alone and even Tony said the kids would start equating doing school with being in a dungeon, so I moved the books back upstairs. But I kept a “craft area” in the basement to prevent big “creative” messes from dominating my dining room. However, that resulted in lots of messes being made in the basement and not being cleaned up. Out of sight, out of mind and I got tired of being the one to keep order down there.

As the kids got older and wanted or needed to work online, I tried setting up several computer stations. Our main desktop was in the upstairs hallway and two older laptops were first upstairs next to the desktops, then finally downstairs on a table in the living room. Unfortunately, no one ever wanted to use the old laptops because they were too slow and had numerous problems. (I guess that’s why they were given to us.) Everyone wanted to use the desktop. But that would congest the upstairs hallway and as the desktop sat upstairs it was harder for me to montior the time they were spending and the sites they were visiting.

So it took a lot of trial and error, and honestly a kitchen addition, to get our school room to where I’m happy with it. Ready for lots of dark and blurry photos? It’s like I read your mind!


This is the actual school room. Most families would use it as an eat in kitchen, so if you have a dining room and EIK, consider using the lesser used space for homeschooling. I purchased the “real school desks” on ebay, and snagged the chairs off craigslist. Now that we’ve started school back up, I demand the kids keep the tops of their desks and the floor underneath picked up. It took several weeks of incentives/bribery, but now it’s a habit and it makes a huge difference to start each day with a clean schoolroom. (This picture shows books on the desks because I still had them out for lesson planning. And that missing cabinet door was snapped off and broken by Fulton’s wheelchair earlier in the summer. Why can’t I have nice things?!)

Please excuse the unpainted walls and unfinished flooring. Our house is a continual work in progress and by “work in progress” I mean, disaster.

Next to the schoolroom we have our arts and crafts table and our computer desk. As you can see, there’s a large opening in the wall so while I’m at the desk, I can see into the school room. The kids also place their completed work in the box next to the desk. Once corrected, I return workbooks to their desks but I keep all the completed papers in the box. I found the kids had a hard time managing all the paper mess and since they really didn’t need the assignments back, I just go over the work with them then return it to the box where it stays until I either pitch it or file it away. Having the computer here means I can keep an eye on whomever is using it, plus it makes it available to Fulton. I keep headphones handy so its less of a distraction to those working at their desk.

That blue and green thing under the craft table is actually a Play-dough table/ desk that Teddy uses. On top of the craft table (which actually came with this house) I keep coloring/activity books, drawing books, assorted paper and art supplies out in plain sight. Stickers, stamps, paints and stencils are stacked in bins on the corner, all clearly labeled. Keeping this table clean and the supplies in good order (i.e. no crusty paint brushes) is also part of their nightly pick up routine. I will say, when they were younger, picking up, whether it was art supplies or toys was hard, so if all your kids are under seven, don’t feel bad if they can’t keep everything as tidy as you’d like. It will come in time.


I wish I could display more of my books, but for now, I put the books we’re using this trimester in the middle cabinet with books for other history periods, science topics, etc. in the upper cabinet. Other literature and children’s books are scattered amongst the other seven bookshelves in the house. The lower cabinent houses past work in the way back and educational games/toys in the front. I only allow Fulton and Teddy to use these games during school time.

An explosion of lacing beads and tanagrams keeps him entertained for several consecutive minutes!

I use a roll of dry erase paper on the side of my fridge as my chalkboard. I found it’s the easiest way for the kids to see what work needs done today, or this week. It’s also where I post our rules, clean up guidelines and a nifty chart I found that details the difference between tattling and telling which, apparently, no one has read yet. 


I display some artwork on the fridge but after a bit, I put it in the completed work box, or encourage the kids to store it in their own keepsake boxes. My goals is to eventually mount a digital picture frame above the craft table and just have a running slideshow of artwork on display. And yes, I’ll throw out the originals…no guilt.

So see? Homeschool classrooms don’t have to be fancy or even attractive, just organized and practical. Use what you’ve got and don’t be afraid to change it up to meet your family’s needs.

Where do you homeschool? What works for your family?

UPDATED: Linking up with {pretty, happy, funny, real} at Like Mother, Like Daughter because Leila told me to, and you don’t argue with Leila.


  1. Love it! Love the blue for the cabinet, and all your ways of doing. I wish you’d come over and post this on {pretty, happy, funny, real} because it’s all of those things. So encouraging!!

  2. IC XC
    NI KA

    Dear Kelly,
    That first picture is so inviting! Kudos to all of you.

    Will you, please, let your kids know how blessed they are to live in a country where homeschooling is permitted?
    Also, will you let them know that they better tide up after classes, as you’re posting pictures of their classroom, and these pictures are “studied” and shown to kids around the world, as an example of a tidy study/ classroom, in our case all the way from Greece!

    In Christ

  3. Thank you for the great ideas! How did I not know dry erase paper existed? I can’t wait to get my hands on some! Also, I love the idea of a digital art display – so much saner than piles and piles of art work that can’t be enjoyed.

  4. I just love the fact that you are “real.” Thank you, thank you, for sharing your perfectly imperfect schoolroom, and life! You make me laugh and encourage me all the time; I am so glad I found your blog!

  5. Bet you didn’t expect your post to make anyone cry 😉 I burst into tears twice reading it! Needless to say – we’re taking the day off from school due to mom’s fragile emotional state… I have three under 7 and we school at the dining room table, and… that’s where the tears come in 😉
    (But seriously, thanks for the post! You had me at “kitchen addition”!)

    1. Theresa, you’re at the hardest stage! Try to just have fun and if it becomes too much, stop for the day. Even if you take a half day, or a week off, your children will learn to read-honest! I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself when my oldest three were little. Enjoy the cheesy crafts and picture books because before you know it, it will be long division and Shakespeare. And once your older children are onto more advanced subjects it’s hard to go back and enjoy those simpler activities with your younger kids. I think after today, you and your kids earned a movie marathon tomorrow…all educational of course. 😉

  6. For what its worth, I had a local cabinet guy make a cabinet door to match my kitchen cabinets. You can’t tell the difference between the original and the replacement and it saved my sanity having the door back on. wasn’t too much money, either.

    1. We still have the original door and intend on fixing and replacing it…eventually…once I’m sure Fulton won’t snap it right back off again.

  7. LOVE that cabinet! The size, the color, and THE DOORS! Why did I buy bookshelves without doors? Oh yeah, I was newly married, a cheapskate, and loved the look of the simple IKEA bookshelves. Ugh, 5 children later and 6 years into homeschooling and I see the error of my ways. Maybe I’ll have my mom make curtains for them. BTW, loved your last blog entry about homeschooling. The only one I would add to that list is that I’m lazy and the thought of getting the kids out the door in the morning with their lunches, backpacks, homework, signed papers, etc., makes me twitch.

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