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Friday, April 27, 2018

To Desk, or not to Desk: that is the question

To DESK, or not to DESK: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous judgment from other homeschool moms, Or to take arms against a sea of distractions, And by opposing end them?

There is a lot of debate about desks in the homeschool community. We have done our school work on desks, the dinner table, the couch, outside on a blanket, and the living room floor!

Every season something different has worked for my kids. Our school space evolves as they grow. In Kindergarten, I tried to make my wiggly boys sit for way too long in desks that were way too big for them, and it was a disaster.  We became more free range in their younger Elementary years.

Later on, I felt like a homeschool mom failure because the free range all over the house school just wasn't working for us anymore.

Each homeschool plan has it's own season.  The floor & couch were perfect for my preschoolers & kindergartners, and the metric ton of picture books we read. The small card table for any worksheets was appropriate for kindergarten, because I could help both of them easily at the same time. They also only had VERY SHORT age appropriate lesson time, which half of the lesson was spent on the couch reading a book.

Preschool Floor Time

Kindergarten we used a card table in the basement

1st grade, we tried a chest in the living room for several subjects
In 1st and 2nd Grade, we had a larger dining room table for our school work. Somehow my kids always found a way to kick each other under the table, or push their papers onto "their brother's side"
Art and science on dining room table

Let's try outside!  
 We tried outside one year because the weather was beautiful, and we had summer fever.  It was nice for a  few days and for a few subjects at a time, but doesn't last when you live in the Midwest.  My mom guilt mounted as I saw these beautiful homeschool blogs of kids reading their math book while in a tree, and felt like I was somehow missing the mark.

We still wonder outside if possible, but honestly it just doesn't usually work for the consistency we need to keep focused.  Don't get me wrong, they get PLENTY of outside time after school, and several times a week my kids are kicked outside to read on the front porch in the fresh air.
I give up, bring on the desks!
In the season of older Elementary and Middle School chool, we have had the most success with open front desks. The desks gives my children their own space, with plenty of storage inside.  It was in third grade when we made the move to desks for each child, and it was perfect timing. Any earlier and they would not have worked. Any later and I may have gone gray early.

Desks give my kids more freedom to move
 No matter how big the table was, someone was always magically kicking or bothering someone else! One of my children is a "bouncer".  He NEEDS to be moving some part of his body while doing school.  His moving tended to shake the table and annoy ALL of us. It seems counter intuitive, but the change to desks has given him more freedom to move during his school work. He can stand up and do his work, or he can wiggle in his desk and tip his chair slightly.  He can kick the wall or his chair band, or bounce on a ball seat.  All of his wiggling  is contained in his own space, without it distracting his brother or me.

Less Clutter
We tried simple desks without built in storage for 6 months, and they were a cluttered disaster! The paper was falling out everywhere on the floor and driving me batty. I switched to the open front desk, and we all love them! As a mom, I love that their clutter is hidden away. At the end of each semester, each child does have to clean out his desk, or becomes it does become a scary mess!

 Focus and Staying on Task
Now remember, MY kids are not YOUR kids.  I believe in allowing them to explore their interests, and seek their desires: but I also believe that my two little boys inherited my ability to become easily distracted! As an adult, I have had to compensate for this distraction bent by building in boundaries for myself that keep me on task. Sometimes I don't like these boundaries, but they actually give me the freedom to do things I love.

The past two years have created more focus without the distractions of having to share a work space, i.e the dining room table.  I recently allowed one of my kids to start doing his grammar work on the couch, but unfortunately it doubled his work time. His mind would wonder and he would twice as long to get his work done. After a week of this, even he admitted he probabaly would do better at the desk.

You will notice that desks are even facing the walls.  This decision was first made just due to space, but it has proved essential to helping my easily distracted kids focus. The lay out we have now helps them stay on track with their school work, and efficiently work through their workboxes. This lack of distraction has enabled all of us more freedom, because they get their school work done faster and I'm able to leave the room for short periods of time without them becoming completely distracted.

But again, this is could be a season. These desks were well worth the investment for how much they have lessened my need to help keep my kids on task and break up silly fights over space. I expect to be in desks through Junior High, but I have no definite plans for High School.

I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about their homeschool plan.  Remember, each room is unique, and each child is unique! These work wonderful for our workbox system, but you must see what works best for your family! 


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