Can you homeschool without a homeschool room? Of course, you can learn in a homeschool room, of course.
This would be the room with my bookshelves filled with Dear Canada novels and my collections of books for prescribed reading lists, and math workbooks, and dictionaries, and you know, schoolish stuff.
“Oh, this is your schoolroom!” I’ve heard this exclamation many times. But there are so many places anyone could learn.
Of course, I have a room. It’s a lovely room: 1920s hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling white built-in bookshelves sitting astride a windowed desk, swivel chair for me to sit, and farmhouse table and chairs for my kids.
In the 1950s, this room was used by a Canadian Member of Parliament, a Justice Minister for Prime Minister Diefenbaker.
Now there is a map of the world on one wall. Inexpensive prints of Monet on another wall. Dollar store canvases of the children’s acrylic work in a collage on the largest wall. And a whiteboard with the dates of confederation or Canadian Prime Ministers on another.
Tis the traditional schoolroom…and for a whole two weeks at the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I rang a little bell and we sat in our chairs in a semi-circle; we used this room as a schoolroom.
Then we didn’t…for the four years we lived in that home; except for aesthetic storage, it was a workroom for quiet, and occasional, crafting.
We discovered there are other places to learn outside a schoolroom, without chalk and blackboard, without projectors and whiteboards, without lectern and scolding instructor (okay, so they still get scolding instructor some days).
Where can we actually do studies?
Can you homeschool in a van? Yes you can, homeschool in a van.
Traveling any distance? Those kiddos are strapped in with nothing to do. And if you don’t want their brains blitzed and irritated by excess screen time in a 3×6 moving rectangle, you can find activities for them to do.
I speak from experience.
We’ve driven 3500 km with four kids in the minivan from the interior of British Columbia to the northernmost part of the Northwest Territories. We’ve driven twelve hours north and six hours south. We’ve driven A LOT and OFTEN over the past fifteen years.
So what can a homeschool family do in the van?
- Try listening to books on Audible.
- Or a discussion of mileage or determining how long it’ll take to get to your destination.
- A combination of active discussion and verbal games.
- Travel games like Uno.
- Enforced quiet time doing quiet reading or in-your-seat-game playing.
- And of course, bi-hourly stops to visit restrooms, museums, or landmarks.
Traveling close to home? Even if you’re not traveling farther than the yoga studio or music lessons, try these ideas:
- Second language CDs reinforce new language learning.
- Story of the World CDs played for history study.
- Readaloud CDs for Apologia science books. (Got to get my hands on those).
- Geography song CDs.
Can you homeschool in a cafe? We call it Starbuckschooling.
I don’t ascribe to one coffee retailer, but Starbucks is North American universal…but any favourite coffee shop will do when you need a change of pace outside your home.
Being in the house doing the same old, same old routine, even with child-directed learning and following your interests too, can get a little mundane at times.
What can you do in the cafe?
- You can take a deck of cards and a handful of dice to the café.
- Reinforce basic math skills by playing multiplication war or mental math questions.
- Throw regular dice and have the kids add or subtract in their heads.
- Bring a travel chess game.
- Work on a Mindbender book learning to be a super-sleuth.
- Give them a story writing prompt.
And have them write away with half-sweet caramel steamers with whip. It’s just more fun with whip.
Yes, the atmosphere, the music, the people-watching can be a little distracting for young ‘uns, but maybe the cafe is just a useful change of pace.
Can you homeschool in the library?
Have you seen what they have in there?
So many books, on topics you might not have previously considered, and you can borrow ALL of them for nothing.
This little piece of technology brought to us by Johannes Gutenberg, with his printing press, has revolutionized our world as much as (surely more) than our handheld devices, social media & the internet.
Can you homeschool in every nook & cranny of your home?
- By the Christmas tree in late January, when it’s still up. Cause why does it have to disappear?
- At the kitchen table with the rest of homeschooldom.
- On the sofa with your neighbourhood view.
- Sometimes on a picnic blanket in the backyard.
- Sometimes on the verandah with a glass of lemonade.
- Definitely on your bed with afternoon sun warming your room.
- Or cuddled in blankets on the living room floor with or without a mattress sheet hut.
Can you homeschool in random places like the bathroom?
Not humidity prevention for books, but this location comes in awfully handy when you’re not quite finished flat ironing your hair or when you’re just out of the shower after the kids have started their new math lesson.
Caveat: This tip is not recommended for public school teachers, but the learning does indeed happen in all corners of a homeschool home.
Can you homeschool at the park or in another town?
The kids packed their backpacks with their studies and we took a short drive to discover a new neighbourhood in a neighbouring town. As we drove, someone read a book about the orchestra and we played Track 39, then we reviewed our French vocabulary.
Then we stopped at the playground, found a quiet spot, and finished writing the stories we gan the day before.
We visited every. single. playground in that new town over the course of a week.
ps You can see what my simple homeschool room is like now.
Because here’s the truth about the homeschool room.
An education can happen anywhere, not just a school classroom. Though she didn’t intend to address educational strategies, Gloria Steinem said it well, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn”. I’ll apply her words here: let’s unlearn that learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom; learning happens anywhere.Teresa Wiedrick, author of Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
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