Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The multi-purpose school room ...

We're a large family, and we live in a smaller home.  We have always had to use our dining room as our school room. 

In our old home, we had 8 people in a 1200 sq. ft., 3 bedroom home with an eat-in kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room.  There were no other rooms.  The kitchen area held the dining room and the laundry closet, as well as serving as our school area.  We had two bookshelves in there, and we used plastic file boxes with hinged lids on top of the shorter bookshelf. 

In our current home, we now have 9 people in 1800 sq. feet.  We still only have 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, and one (blessedly large) living room.  But we now have a dining area separate from the kitchen, and we can do our schoolwork in the dining area.  The dining room is connected to the living room, with a built-in buffet/shelf between the two areas.  This was our second school year in our new home.

We have a large dining room table, which has plants, a napkin box, and Daddy's paper stack on it.  At the moment, it also has schoolwork from the older two kids at the end by the window.   We have a clear vinyl table cloth protecting the table from pencils, scissors, glue, markers, and tape.  (Yes, my walls need to be repainted.  We wanted to do it before we moved in, because we knew once we were in, it would be much more difficult to accomplish.  But, it didn't happen, and it still hasn't.)

We use the buffet top on the dining room side to hold plastic boxes for each child to store their schoolbooks in, as well as several smaller baskets for pencils, pens, erasers, etc.  The built in shelves under it hold school supplies, some textbooks, coloring books, and other craft supplies.  There is even a cupboard that is the perfect size for paper-back books.  (Of course, we also have to occasionally look in the cupboard to see what the 3 year old might have stashed in there.  She calls it her closet and is always losing things inside there.)

Under the window, we have a long thin table that holds file boxes, magazine files, and a big file drawer.  This organizes paper, answer keys, and several other things.  The shelf under this table has more boxes of craft supplies.  The stack of stuff in the corner is my scrapbook supplies and other projects.

There are 4 bookshelves in the connected living room and two in the hallway.  Every single bookshelf holds schoolbooks of some sort.  Reference books, historical books, literature books, currently unused textbooks ... many of which are double-shelved.  There isn't just one shelf  for school books; they're everywhere!

Most of the time, you can find children doing their schoolwork in the living room, as well.  The couch, love seat, and even the floor also serve as school areas.  If the girls are reading, they're just as likely to take their history and literature books to their beds, or outside.

It's crowded.  It's not always pretty.    But it's our school area, and we're thankful for it.  I often wish I had extra money to spend on some really great organizational tools for this area.  I'm sure over time, we'll continue to revamp the area.

But today, this is what it looks like.

Trusting in Him,


  1. We will have 7 people in an 1850sq ft home come fall. My question to you is...how do you do it? We plan on staying here for at least 6 more years and do plan to have more children. We have a girls room, boys room and master room (which is the smallest room) and a kitchen, living room, dining room and thankfully a closed office off the dining room. My teaching stuff will remained contained in the office, which already holds a huge desk and 4 large bookshelves and the kids will just have bins to retrieve their learning materials from the dining room.

    BUT, my biggest question is, how do you sleep all your children?? Right now I have my 4 and 3 year old girls together and my 6 year old son is waiting for his 14 mo old brother to move in with him before the new baby comes. We have been hesitant to move him because my son loves to play alone in his room often during the day (and 2 naps will take much of his day away) and he also has some good alone time before bed. My girls CANNOT stay quiet to go to sleep and often times I have to move my 3 year old to the hallway in order for my 4 year old to get enough sleep. My children don't mind going to bed at all, and if separated, drift to sleep quickly after looking at a few books. But, put them together and it's a disaster every night! Any insight?

  2. Thank you for sharing! I really like the built in buffet topped with tubs. My kids love tubs.

    I'm in awe of your plants - if they are in the house mine die quickly. Do the littler ones get on the table and into the pots? The only thing I've managed to not kill is the veggie garden outside. Though how things live around the weeds is questionable...hahaha.



  3. Tristan,

    sometimes the kids and cats play with the plants. I had given up on plants that couldn't be HIGH years ago, to be honest. The windowsills are especially bad because they get knocked down.

    These were all in one basket that we received when my husband's dad died last fall. I just recently re-potted them out of the basket, because they were dying. One especially kept tipping over, thanks to kids messing with it ... I gave it a chance in a new pot but it needs to get dumped out soon.

    I also have another plant on top of a tall bookshelf in the living room. No one can reach it, though, and it appears to be indestructible. Water it once a month and it just keeps living. Okay, I'm not that bad, but it has survived plenty of neglect. I water it when I see leaves starting to shrivel sometimes. It's a philodendron and we've had it for years.

    Mommy Kellogg,

    We have 2 bunk beds in the girls room for the four girls. We just moved the 3 year old in there from the toddler bed in our bedroom a few months ago. The girls do talk and struggle to go to sleep at times, but it's just something we're used to. Stern reminders, consequences at times, soothing music, and threats of earlier bedtimes the next night eventually work.

    In the boys room we have a daybed with a trundle under it, and another twin bed. At the moment, the twin bed is pushed against the twin daybed, like one giant bed. It gives them more space to play. When Baby G is ready to move in there, we'll have to change that so we can get the trundle out. The boys will have to let go of some toys at that time. Either that, or we'll need a bunk bed.

    We keep babies in our bed at night, which is king size and has a bed rail on my side. We have a toddler bed in our room for older babies, as well. It's pushed right up against our bed, and has a bedrail on it, as well so I can use it for naps for a baby, if I need to. We no longer have a crib, but we do use a bassinet in the living room for the first 6 months and naps.

    It works for us. If we have another girl, we'll have to revisit the girls bedroom, or find some other solution. But for now, we're okay. Toddler mattresses slid under beds for toddlers like a trundle are one possibility.

    Thanks for stopping by!


  4. I should have thought of a clear cover for my table-it got scratched and such from use...makes me mad cuz it was a special gift from my hubby for our anniversary the 2nd year we were in this house....that is why we moved the school stuff out and off the table....I hear ya on the trying to get stuff done b4 moving in, but alas it not happening. Looks good and seems to work for ya all-and that is what counts!

  5. I really like the buffet for storing school supplies. We use those same kind of tubs too. I've been trying to figure out how to arrange the room when 2 year old gets out of her crib. Right now my other daughter sleeps in a double bed. The cheapest option is to put younger daughter in bed with her, but I'm a little hesitant to try that. Have your heard of others trying that?

  6. Kristen, actually I do know many large families who put the toddler in bed with an older sibling for a few years. It especially helps the toddler if they are transitioning out of Mom and Dad's room.

    For several years our oldest two shared a queen size bed, but each using their own twin blanket. There were nights we had to move one (or both) to the floor because they were fighting, though. I think it would work better with an older sibling helping a younger one settle than two close in age.

    When we were preparing to move here, we dismantled one bedroom and used it to stack boxes in. All the 5 older kids shared one bedroom which had two bunk beds. Two of them shared one bottom bunk, sleeping at opposite ends for a few weeks. It worked for a short period, although I know some do it with 2 young children, all the time.


  7. April,

    As the housing market is still a bit pricy here in Maryland, we're looking at possibly doing just a 3 bedroom. Right now, all three boys are in one large bedroom with beds lined up baracks style. If we bunked the beds, they'd have more floor space. But, we're trying this tighter arrangement in hopes of keeping the floor clean. Can't say it's working perfectly, though.

    A friend of mine uses her dining room as schoolroom as well. She has a great, large circular table in the center and shelving (open and closed) lining one wall (floor to ceiling.)

    Thanks for sharing the photos!

    Your fellow FM on the Crew, Laura

  8. GriffinbellasmomJune 17, 2009 at 3:07 AM

    Wow, I love your room. I wish mine was that organized but it gives me hope!!! Also, you're blog is great!! Thanks for sharing a peek into your home.

  9. I like how you use your buffet and storage boxes for each of your children!

    Nikki T

  10. Thought I'd chime in here about fitting many children in a few bedrooms. We have our 9 children in 2 average sized bedrooms.

    We have a bunk bed and crib in the boys bedroom and sleep 4 boys in there. Our 2 year old shares the bottom twin bunk with the 7 year old, 10 year old on the top bunk and 1 year old in the crib.

    Our 5 girls share the other room where we have a twin and a twin over full bunk. 4 and 8 year olds in the twin, 12 and 5 year olds in the full and 11 year old on the top bunk.

    We have one dresser in each of the rooms and we have built in drawers under the beds in the girls room. I recently found some pretty antique dresser drawers (free at a yard sale) and am going to put wheels on the bottoms of them and they will go under the bunk in the boys room.

    If I have any interest I would be happy to post pictures of the rooms on my blog.

    We have been very blessed in that our house is rather large, so we have no toys in the children's rooms. (We actually have very few toys anyway.)

    April, I really like the idea of posting pictures of our school room. I plan to do that on my blog very soon. I recently posted pictures of our chalkboard wall in our dining room and next week will post about the other special wall in our dining room. Anyhow, thanks for sharing this.




  11. I am so impressed that you have *live* plants in your schooling area. :)

    Thanks for the peek into how you manage all your materials. Very inspirational!


  12. Great Learning Room!!! :)

  13. Great Learning Room!!! :)


I love to hear from you. Thanks for your comment!