**Okay, so apparently I didn't take any real money shots of the whole room, just bits and pieces of my favorite parts. Eh, I'll getcha next time.**
Small homes grow tight families, right? Well that’s sort of what we’re working with, here. Honestly, our home wouldn’t be such a tight fit were it not for the fact that we so enjoy filling it with new people. Our general priorities on conceiving children are: feed animal instinct to repopulate the earth now; think about it later. Even after we were actually married when The Urge #2 hit, Scarlett was about the size of a dump truck in my baby-making organs before we started reconstructing a quarter of our house just to make her fit. Whatever, it was fun.
This time we may not be having another baby, but you wouldn’t know it from the way that I’m nesting. This is a big change for our family, and a chance for me to reshape the future of my kids. This is cooler than a new baby; this is the opportunity for me to be a better parent to the ones I have already - like it is literally my job. I know that I tend to over think things like this, but it just means an awful lot to me, and if on top of that, I get the chance to buy chalk board decals from Target, then baby - let’s DO it.
When we renovated our den to become the master bedroom, the little room to the side we call a classroom now became the catch-all for anything that didn’t look pretty enough to be in plain view. My type-A mother taught me never to believe in catch-all rooms, but I’d just dropped like 3 grand on new carpet and furniture so until we were ready to pay cash for a master bath with a flat screen, I needed a place to put the cat poop. The paneling was eye-sore faux wood and if that wasn’t enough to make you instinctually avert your eyes and walk away every time you almost felt ambitious enough to organize it, the gradual inhalation of cat litter hissing up your nose uninvited you, itself.
Cleaning it was not as therapeutic as it was nauseating, but I didn’t realize that until I was close enough to finished that I could just barrel though the rest. In the end, eighteen coats of stark white, framed maps, and cork boards on repositionable tape pulled the room together. Bearing in mind that this is a work in progress, and there are many-a-Pinterest idea I haven’t applied just yet, here is what we have:
A clip of our chalk board decals, which will hold important snippits from different subjects we've covered over the week. Above her work space, she also has a weekly chart, which gives an at-glance rundown of her assignments for each day. (lesson, chapter, etc.)
We have two filing cabinets, both set up by folders containing a week's worth of each subject's print-outs, which are then paper-clipped into days within the folder. The, there are dividers which break the weeks into months, in order to keep us on schedule. The cabinets are labeled with these super-cute repositionable, dry-erase, notebook paper decals from Target. We have them all over the room. I LOVE them.
The bottom cubbies hold 'busy' activities for Matthew, (and Scarlett, if she absolutely must be with us inside of the room while I'm in there with Mary). The middle cubbies hold a few of the educational games/materials that I've used a lot for Matthew's pre-school activities in the past.
The unfinished closet this sets over is seven different kinds of hideous. But this is cute!
We didn't have tie backs for the curtains, so I did it up with some schoolish-looking ribbon I found lying around.
Matthew's Responsibility chart. He's already asking to earn point on it! Funny enough, Mary saw it and actually said: How come MATTHEW gets all the fun stuff? Ha, I guess I'll have to find a responsibility chart for her too... Something tells me she'll regret putting the idea in my head!
One of my favorite little finds. Isn't the white leather so pretty? This is where papers will go in-transit on days we need them. I'll pull papers she needs for the day from the filing cabinet and place them in the bottom tray for her to pull out as needed when we get to that subject. When she's finished, she'll put them on top. I like this system because the top part is wide enough to even fit her workbooks.
Matthew's desk. I love my in-laws a little more everyday for giving this to him. Genuinely one of the coolest presents, ever.
Just some shots of the desk. I like that it's so spacious for her.
This is a filing crate that we re-purposed for holding books instead. It's great for keeping workbooks and notebooks organized into subjects, so that they aren't just piled on top of one another or stuggling to fit awkwardly on a bookshelf. They're within easy reach, but also off of her workspace. She can also see all of the titles at a quick glance this way and keep her notebooks with the subject to which they belong.
I still need cute side-labels for her morning-work notebook, but this is the top shelf of the cubby for keeping her thicker texts and three-ring binders. Also, doesn't every schoolroom need a globe and a trendy, green wall clock?
I wanted this room to feel like a classroom. Mary was always the kind of kid who never wanted to miss a day of school. She may not have loved actually paying attention or doing most of the assignments, but she was going to miss being there. So I thought that going with a classroom ambiance would help her to feel a little more… um, UN-at-home? Unwilling to splurge on new flooring, an intentional classroom décor would help to disguise the fact that asbestos tile flooring and florescent lights were not our first choice. We also had this incredible desk (which, I kid you not, I could have kissed my in-laws for giving our son last year) that pretty much sealed the decision for me to set aside a room for schooling in the first place.
There’s a very good argument out there for not dumping money into a school room (as most families gravitate toward the higher-trafficked kitchen table anyway), but for the sake of transition, it was essential. And look --I know that this endeavor is mostly about Mary -- but, how adorable this boy looks, sitting under the American flag, pasting sight words to construction paper beside his little V-tech globe! Ugh, it’s sick, people. It really is.
The room is small, and being a virtually windowless area only adds to the sense of confinement I’ve always hated about this part of the house. We had to do some banking on creativity to work with what we had. The desk is pushed up into this little nook which I never would have appreciated before the new paint, but it actually looks nice. Even though we aren’t utilizing the dinosaur computer modem that takes up a little space and looks awful, it serves as the perfect side table for her supply tins. And since they’re sitting on metal, we can put little magnets at the bottom to keep them from sliding around. Classroom chic? Oh, I think so.
We were working on a budget, and I had to keep in mind that I’m really only using this stuff to teach one kid, so even though a wall-covering chalk board and locker cabinets would be cool, they boiled down to an unnecessary expense. (I will be home pre-schooling/kindergarten-ing Matthew like last year, but that doesn’t involve any heavy equipment yet.) I tried to keep it light, reminding myself that we didn’t have a lot of space to work with anyway, and that I wanted to keep it feeling open and uncluttered. For that reason, we decided on a nice, spacious white board, and went smaller with chalk board decals. Broken up the way that they are not only looks a little cooler, it helps me display important information for each subject, separately. Word of the Week will be displayed here. Vocab for our Physics unit this month, there. Reminders from our grammar unit when working on this week’s essay, to the left. I have a thousand (and by a thousand I mean like, 12) educational posters that I’ll just be cycling through as they relate to what we’re learning. Some of them are for Mary and some of them are for Matthew. I would have loved to incorporate some pretty, motivational posters in quirky, repurposed-vintage frames like I’ve Pinned from all over the internet, but again, wall space is prime real estate in a small room, so we’re sacrificing taste for functionality with additions like my awesome rainbow multiplication chart. I’ve come to terms with it.
We have a filing cabinet we decked out in these great dry-erase decals from Target, which more than take care of the need we have for storing assignments. The filing crate I’d bought turned out to be a little more than we needed for paper storage, so we reassigned it to holding our textbooks/workbooks instead. It’s a little unorthodox, but it’s one of my favorite quirks of the room. I read before that curriculum texts are not book shelf-friendly, which turned out to be very much the truth. They’re bulky and soft-covered, so they slump down unattractively, sliding everything else around - if they even fit. In this, the books stand upright, divided into subjects by little dividers, so that their titles are easy to spot at a glace. Every response booklet, reference, or text that she’ll need is at arm’s length; out of the way and off of her workspace, but still within easy reach. The white organizer up front is where papers will go in transition - the bottom slot will be for assignments-in-progress (essays and such) and the top will be for any assignments ready to grade, including her workbooks.
Speaking of storage, a definite perk to this being an unfinished room is that there’s really no need to get fancy with the closet space because it still has concrete floors. However, it does go back really, really, really far, have a deep shelf inside, and have a thick tension rod built across top, perfect for one, or even a few of those hanging organizers. It won’t be photo-shoot material, but together with our other organizational tools, should more than keep the clutter at bay.
We’ll see, right?