Our homeschool room

The phrase “our school room” is a bit of a misnomer because for Puppy, Lamb and Piglet (6yo, 4yo and 18mo) our school room is just about everywhere.

For seat work, however, we have a central work room – our dining. I debated between having a specific room dedicated to school (upstairs, to avoid our dining looking like a school room), but decided that keeping it downstairs near the kitchen would help me supervise all 3 kids better especially when I have to run to the kitchen periodically to take a pot off the stove or run outside to retrieve some laundry. Our upstairs also gets very hot and humid during the day, so being downstairs is so much more comfortable for everyone.

1. Seat work room

Our 6yo utilises the dining table to avoid the 18mo getting into her work. Next to the dining table we have these white kids’ tables. There’s a hard plastic IKEA cover on them to minimize scribbles on the wood.

I wish we had more natural light in our dining area but it is quite dim even in the daytime, so a lamp is necessary. Having a map permanently up makes referencing easier, I don’t have to keep whipping it out. On the table is our 4yo’s work box containing all the stuff we use daily – Early Learner workbook, numbers flashcards, phonics flash cards and blending word cards.

I sit on the middle stool with the 18mo on my left and 4yo on my right so that the wee one doesn’t get into his older sibling’s work but can still see and participate with whatever’s going on. The 18mo’s seat is also nearer the shelves so he can get off anytime to take anything he wants from them with minimal distraction to the 4yo.

Shelves are directly next to the tables so I can get up quickly to retrieve an activity while the kids’ attention span is still ongoing. With an 18mo, chaos can easily happen within a few seconds!

In the closed shelf, I store the kids’ files (containing charts and records of their work) and all books related to seat work – language arts for English, Chinese and Malay, Math, Science Kits, chalk boards, manipulatives we don’t use on that particular day (teaching colours, numbers, shapes), including teacher aids and references, as these don’t have to be kept open for the kids. If you’d like a peek into what areas we’re studying, check out this previous post on our homeschool curriculum.

The open shelf on the left is kept open to attract the kids to the material as they view them, and enable them to access all of it easily.

On it are the following:

  • Right on top: See-through boxes containing markers, pencils, crayons, dry-erase markers with a sponge wipe, storage for scissors and glue, pencil sharperner (don’t want our 18mo getting into them without adult assistance – although he’s already learnt how to get a stool and access them!). See-through boxes look a bit messy I feel but it’s a good trade off because the kids don’t have to ask me where to find their things.
  • 2nd level: Manipulatives and games suited for toddlers and preschoolers. (Update these to keep things fresh. To find a list of 40 activities, check out the following posts: Fun indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3) and (Part 4).
  • 3rd level: Peg puzzles, other puzzles, plastic toy animals. (Just the right height for an 18mo.)
  • Bottom level: Math manipulatives for all grades.

Next to the open shelf is the art corner where the kids know they can find a paper station, colouring books, doodle boards, craft materials ranging from poster paints and finger paints to chalk and oil pastels, play dough box and scrap box (waste not, want not).

On the top shelves are our adult books and stationery I don’t want little hands playing with.

Pegs for hanging art work to dry and notice board for displaying art work and little teaching notes to myself so I don’t have to scramble around with a file. School gets done on the fly often enough, so!

Another closed shelf in the dining room that stores extra art materials, kids CDs, board games, and additional activity books that are seldom used. Before we got these doors, our dining really looked like a kindergarten!

School with our 6yo tends to shift between the bedroom (where little ones nap in the afternoon and want me nearby), the kitchen and dining. I love this handy IKEA box that we can move around with.

2. Water/sand play and crafts corner

We are so blessed to have an air well next to our dining room where the kids can do messy art work, sand play, or jump into a mini pool whenever I need them off my hands for a block of time to finish some chores.

3. Music corner

This is in our living room and it gets used often which we like, instead of watching TV. The TV is tucked away upstairs although we did spend more time with it this month for the Olympics! Other than that, “watching days” for the kids are Tuesdays, Thursdays and when friends come to visit.

4. Reading corner

This is at the other end of the living room. There’s a couch somewhere on the right. I didn’t think of angling the camera properly but that’s me. Duffer.

Books are arranged generally according to genre, although we keep books for different Cores separate and colour coded. Most of our reading aloud is done upstairs before nap time and bed time, so relevant books are kept up there until they’re done with and returned downstairs. It’s a job getting the kids to put back each book in their proper place everyday, but the older two have mostly got the hang of it and have learned a thing or two about sorting. There’s a red tray for books they’re unsure goes where and it gets utilised too often when they’re lazy or in a rush to get outside and play!

5. Toys corner

Toys are organised in drawers at the far end of the book shelves. These are so ugly but cheap and functional.

One drawer for balls, one for vehicles, one for dolls, dressing up, etc. There’s a coffee table with cubby holes for the 18mo’s toys – shape sorter, blocks, stacking toys, so he can play when he’s done reading and still be with his older siblings (a.k.a. my trusty babysitters).

All this organization gets tweaked as the children grow, so I love finding out new ways how to do it better. There’s a lot to teach, but I’m also a firm believer in child-led learning. Keeping things well structured makes this possible. Everyone is happy when they know where to find stuff and can get into things whenever they like. It is so nice when I peek out of the kitchen and find that all 3 kids have immersed themselves with something hands-on they enjoy – not the idiot box. (Although they still jump at the chance of watching a DVD of course!)


  • June Yong (@yjune)
    August 14, 2012 12:55 pm

    Wow you are so organised! My home has been in a constant mess since our 14 mth old started walking and emptying out drawers and throwing things around. I think I need more of these open-concept shelves to organise things better, and to teach our kids to clear up after themselves! (Now that’s a tough job!) Thanks for sharing with (and inspiring) us!

  • kansasqueen
    August 14, 2012 1:08 pm

    Wow, Mama J, you are on top of it! I am very impressed. It takes a lot of dedication to homeschool. Looks like you are doing a great job.

  • missemmsmom
    August 14, 2012 1:52 pm

    Wow! You’re an awesome homeschool mom! Thanks for the tip about the map..and i love your music corner! is that a kid’s drum kit or an adults one? MissEmm is loving the recorder at the mo while accompanying me on the ukele…it drives me nuts but i love that she’s learning to pick up rhythm.

  • Laura
    August 14, 2012 4:01 pm

    When they are little, there is just so much stuff! You have done a great job of organizing it all. Plus, I love your pink couch!

  • Szuster
    August 14, 2012 5:24 pm

    I love it! 🙂

  • twisteddomesticgoddess
    August 14, 2012 9:54 pm

    Love it! We have stuff all over our house as well
    Will be posting it soon!

  • karonadrummond
    August 14, 2012 10:03 pm

    What an inviting place you have created for learning! You inspire me. 🙂

  • karonadrummond
    August 14, 2012 10:05 pm

    Reblogged this on karonadrummond and commented:
    I admit it. I struggle with organization at home. This homeschool mom has created a beautiful and inviting learning area for her children. Way to go!

  • Jamie Worley (@jamieworley)
    August 14, 2012 10:49 pm

    Lots of shelves: I always like that! And a music corner? How fun!!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 9:57 pm

    Actually the photo of our living room got taken before the 18mo got into it! He loves emptying out stuff too. It’s a job getting the kids to clear up, yes! I guess it’s part of teaching responsibility, but things will fall through the cracks and there will always be the perennial toy I have to pick up after the kids are in bed … Tis one of the more wearisome parts of mommy life I could do with less!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:14 pm

    Some days I’m on top, other days it feels like rock bottom. I have to say, though, it’s mostly better days by far so I feel very blessed! Thanks!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:22 pm

    Oh I have memories of playing the recorder in primary school! It must sound really quaint with the ukele. Good for you both!

    We had a plastic toy drum set from 2 years ago that lasted only a few months, but Lamb’s interest continued on the well-battered toms so we finally clued in to what he wanted and invested in a proper junior drums set. We’ve had to fit in DIY mutes on the toms though so our neighbours won’t suffer too much …. I hope!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:26 pm

    Thank you! It took me 2.5 years beginning with a few books, 1 table, 2 chairs and lots of chaos before getting to this stage, so … I am relieved we are finally getting somewhere 🙂
    PS. The pink couch was a steal bargain at IKEA eons ago, no one wanted it I guess!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:28 pm

    Thanks, Szu. Drop by again soon!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:29 pm

    I just read your post. Great ideas and lots of love in there! Thumbs up!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:39 pm

    Thanks, Karona!

  • Mama J
    August 15, 2012 10:43 pm

    You can never have too many shelves, yes! 🙂

  • Savannah
    August 16, 2012 12:01 am

    Wow, I love how organized you are! I really enjoyed your post. I found your blog on the blog hop. I also posted about our homeschool space (we don’t have a specific room for it either) today, so if you’re interested feel free to come check it out. Have a great day! http://ramblingsmom.com/2012/08/15/our-homeschooling-room-sorta/

  • Rorybore
    August 16, 2012 5:02 am

    you are so organized!! I feel unworthy to even leave a comment.
    also, drums……you are much braver (and way cooler) than I. 🙂

  • Runnermom-jen
    August 17, 2012 8:25 am

    Wow!!! Everything is so organized and happy!!! I love it!! Can I come to school there? 😉
    Good to see you back.

  • nanaymiriam
    August 17, 2012 9:22 am

    i wanna cry in envy now! but am happy for you Mama J.. keep it up! you inspire me


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