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While Our Things Have Fairly Well-Defined Places, the Children are Free to Roam

Ever since I spent several sunny spring afternoons on my parent’s barn roof studying geography, I’ve understood that learning can happen anywhere.  In fact, sometimes the unusual places get the best results. I got 100% on that course, an unheard-of mark in our high school.

With that in mind, how do we organize our space for learning?  That’s what Tina at the Blog Cruise is wondering this week.  Well, we  have an ordinary country house with a large yard, and we do our homeschooling anywhere in or around it.  There really is very little for us to organize. 

Work Space

As long as the children are learning, they are allowed to work anywhere.  I’ll never forget the Canadian geography I learned up on that barn roof, and I see no reason not to let my children learn wherever they wish. I won’t let them leave books out in the rain or snow, or on the steps for the dogs to chew, but other than that there are no restrictions, as long as they work.   Often they choose to sit at their desks in their rooms.  They all work at the computer.  Sometimes they sit at the dining room table (especially the Little Misses), or out in the veranda. They also like the couch and the coffee table.  Occasionally they work at my friend’s house or at the orthodontist’s.  The older ones do a lot of their memorizing and planning outside, either walking along the roads or tramping through the woods and the fields. 


And where do we put the books we’re using?  Library books go in boxes behind the couch. (Except when we lose them.)  Our own books are supposed to go on shelves, but they do not always fit.  Some ‘school’ books, especially my answer keys, are on a shelf in our living room.  The children’s ‘school’ books are in their rooms. A few shared resources, such as How to Read a Book, float between rooms and usually end up at the computer, since two of the children take notes in Word.  Books that I use after meals, such as the Kid’s Can Press French and English Phrase Book and the current family read-aloud sit on a little table in our dining room with Bibles and memory work.

Other Learning Stuff

We have games and puzzles on a shelf in the basement, close to the craft supplies.  We keep a few special games in a cupboard upstairs, and favourite crafting supplies sometimes end up in the girls’ rooms.  Sewing stuff is stored in my room, and tools are in Daddy’s big toolbox as well the kids’ individual tool areas.  Legos are stashed away for now, and k’nex pieces fill the drawers under my son’s bed.  Our bikes, roller blades, and skis are in the barn, our cooking stuff is in the kitchen and pantry, and the most useful of our maps are in my purse.  Music is stored on the organ, but played anywhere on our property.  Our pets and most of the wild animals are outside where they belong, but we do keep a few spiders inside to help control the flies.  Smile.


The only thing we can’t get organized are pens and erasers.  We never have pens available.  Even if I take out a handful of new pens and put them in the drawer, they’re gone within a few days. Erasers always disappear.  Even though we have dozens of the nice white ones, and even though I cut them in half so that there are twice as many to drag away, they all do eventually get carried away. 

Other than hunting for pens and erasers, we seem to have a smoothly functioning learning environment.  Things have fairly well-defined places, but the children are free to roam.  Not only are they learning their subject matter, but they are also learning how to choose surroundings that maximize their learning and enjoyment.  That also includes putting things back where they belong–except for erasers and pens, of course.  This works well for us.

To read how other families organize their homes for learning, please visit the Blog Cruise.


  1. jenn4him says:

    We like to learn wherever and whenever, too. So far the new house is providing us opportunities to explore our options. Today we had lessons in the familyroom. I think the kitchen table is my favorite spot, but the livingroom on a sunny day is too! The nice thing is that we can be all over the house and learn. It suits us well. I have never thought of having a school room, although, I'd like to have one room to stash it all in and lock the door behind me! Maybe it is good that I don't have that room!


  2. LarabaK says:

    I have to laugh about the pens. My husband is frequently exasperated about the disappearance of many pens.

    We don't roam quite as far as you do, but I totally agree that learning can happen anywhere. In fact, I am inspired to open up more options on where the kids work. I think it helps them learn to have some variety in their environment. Of course, part of learning is being outside and looking at the world, and as spring approaches we'll be doing more of that.


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