When we first looked at this house, prior to moving, it was obvious the living room wasn't big enough to house the girls' toys (like we'd done in our previous house), so dh & I agreed quite quickly that the logical use for the 3rd bedroom was as a playroom. As I continued figuring out how things would best fit, it also seemed logical that the girls' computer, our printer & our copy machine (yes, we have a copy machine, it's INVALUABLE for a homeschooler!!! I seriously use it daily!!!) would go in that 3rd bedroom. And it was somewhere in that time frame that we told the girls that room would be their playroom/schoolroom. THEN closer to the move we decided to have my dad build the girls a loft bed. Which meant there's plenty of room in THEIR room for their toys, and the "playroom" became primarily a "schoolroom". While we're eclectic leaning toward unschooling, I loved the idea of a room with WALLS to hang things on (one of my challenges as we "did school" in the family room at our old house & our open floorplan and big windows mean there were essentially NO walls in the family room, and those that existed had the sofa, entertainment center, etc on them). A place to contain all the mess out of the way . . . it seemed ideal. And that's where we've been doing school. In many ways it was working well. The copier's right there (did I mention I use it daily?), the printer's right there, I'd print things off the night before & they'd be sitting there on the printer waiting for me. The mess WAS contained, but the downside of that was the kids would make their own messes and then we'd get to school time and they'd whine about having to clean up the mess to have a place to write (or sit). I made good use of the walls, with a huge timeline from creation to present that we've been writing things onto, and numerous other things.
But, recently 2 things have frustrated me about this set-up. For one thing, it means we sit on the floor to read stories & such, now we did that in the family room at the old house. I LIVED on the floor for the first couple years of the girls' life (much easier to just sit on the floor to nurse two, that way when one's done you can set her down & she can crawl off & play, then crawl back when she wants to nurse more, all w/o disturbing her sleeping/nursing sister) . . . I generally LOVE the floor BUT this pregnancy I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get back UP after sitting on the floor. Guess I'm getting old LOL. So, at the moment, sitting on the floor is an issue. The girls also were finding the small kid table that we have in there too small to each be able to do copywork & such w/o bumping into each other or fighting about papers covering each other & such. But the big thing, as they become more independant in their work, I was finding myself with longer & longer chunks of time where I was essentially twiddling my thumbs up there. They're not to the place that I can just leave them to their schoolwork and come back downstairs, they still need questions answered and small prompts throughout the work but still. . . Additionally, our current routine that we've fallen into has school time right before lunchtime which has meant that I've generally scrapped all lunch items that require any prepwork and we've mostly been eating sandwiches or leftovers for lunch. Which isn't all bad, but there are times when it would be nice to actually cook something for lunch. . . SO . . . as I was doing more cleaning & Christmas decorating on Sunday, it occurred to me that now that we have the dining room more "finished" perhaps we could do our schoolwork at the dining room table (as so many homeschoolers do). There is some wall space for things that are used daily, and larger things like the timeline can stay upstairs & we can just go up there to talk about it as needed. There's already bookcases in the dining room, and some empty space on those shelves to hold the notebooks and other resources we're currently using. One thing that got me thinking this direction is that our morning worship (which we do as part of "school time") for the month of Dec is a "Jesse Tree" which has daily devotions following the lineage of Jesus from Creation to his birth, and a paper ornament for each day that can be hung on a tree or a banner. I have a small tabletop Christmas tree that will work perfectly for it BUT . . . it seemed sad to hide it away in the upstairs room where nobody would ever see it except the girls & me, but also didn't make sense to have to stop in the middle of worship each morning to come down here to hang the ornament on the tree. Now we have the tree in one of the dining room windowsills, and it's all right there. We sit at the table for part of it and on the sofa when I'm reading to the girls for history and when the girls are reading to me for reading class. The girls have adjusted well to the switch, and are enjoying having more room at the table. And it means that I can get lunch ready or do the dishes or whatever while the girls do their copywork and phonics worksheets and such. I'm sure we'll make many changes, big and small, to how we homeschool over the next howevermany years that we'll homeschool, but at the moment, I'm excited about how well this change is working.
I got around the copy machine issue by planning ahead a little more, the main things I use the copier for are the copywork (I write out each day's memory verse at the top of a piece of handwriting paper & then copy it so each of the girls can have one to copy on the bottom half) and the Make & Learn history projects we do. So rather than waiting & copying it the day we use it, I took a few minutes to write out all of this week's memory verses on Monday and copied them all at once. As it was, when I looked at the Make and Learn activities for this week I decided neither were ones we needed to do, but on weeks when we DO have Make & Learn activities I can copy those ahead of time too.