When I first started looking into homeschooling, I didn’t know much about it at all.
But I did know that buying desks was a super rookie move.
I have heard so many homeschool moms laugh and poke fun at the ridiculous idea of setting up little desks in your homeschool room – trying to recreate the look and feel of a “real classroom.”
I have even seen several moms discuss desks in Facebook threads and kick themselves for wasting money on little desks that they eventually threw out.
For my own classroom, I went ahead and just set up a large folding table that we already owned and bought a few more chairs to go around it.
This set up has worked very well for us for nearly 3 years, and up until this point I had no regrets about not purchasing a desk.
Why Individual Desks (Usually) Don’t Work for Homeschooling
1. Creates the Environment We are Avoiding
We all have reasons that we decided to homeschool our child instead of sending them to traditional school.
Then why would we try and recreate that environment?
For some moms, they just naturally think school should look like what their school looked like growing up.
Some moms may think it will help control the chaos and help everyone stay orderly. I am all about structure, but sitting in little desks in your house has the great potential to suck all the fun, potential, and life out of your homeschool.
As opposed to showing your kid a new and fresh approach to education, you are just taking their normal school work and doing it at home.
2. Decreases Movement
In a normal school environment, decreasing movement is a good thing. You don’t want kids moving around and disrupting the classroom when they should be working.
The beauty of homeschooling, is that movement is usually encouraged. My oldest daughter likes to take her work and do it on the couch, on her bed, and we have even taken it outside on our deck before.
I have seen pictures of homeschool kids that love laying on the floor and doing their work.
We are not chained to a desk and that can be very freeing!
3. Desks Separates the Teacher and Student
Homeschooling is so radically different than the traditional school model.
Traditional schools have a teacher standing at the front of the room and kids behind their desks.
Homeschooling is often done with the child in the teacher’s lap, sitting on the couch together, or sitting across from each other at a table.
We are reading together, working together, and learning together.
4. Desks Separate Students Instead of Bringing Them Together
Individual desks serve a great purpose of keeping student supplies separated.
That is not really helpful when homeschooling.
Our supplies are all in a big clear organizers, so that everyone can see and use them as needed.
Putting them in the middle of a shared table has worked very well for us.
I also like that my kindergartener and preschooler can work side by side at our shared table. They encourage each other and my preschooler has picked up so much from watching kindergarten lessons.
As my kids get older, I know we will doing a lot more joint classes – science and history in particular will be done as a family and it will be much easier to have everyone around the same table.
Why We Bought my Homeschooler a Desk Anyway
When we first started homeschooling, I was just teaching my 6 year old daughter.
My 4 and 2 year old would toddle in and out of the classroom as they pleased
Sometimes they would come listen to stories, or they would join in on an art project or science experiments…and sometimes they would go off and play independently.
Now that I have been teaching a 3rd grader, Kindergartener, and Preschooler for several months, I see that our old way of doing things is not going to cut it much longer.
Here are the reasons that we decided our homeschooler needed a legit desk:
1. The Rise of Independent Work
The earlier years of homeschooling require 1:1 attention from the teacher for just about every subject.
Now that my daughter is in 3rd grade, there is a lot she can do independently –
- Journaling assignments
- Math (yea Teaching Textbooks!)
- Math Fact Review
- Creative Writing (assignments from her co-op class)
As she gets older that list will only grow.
Independent work is something I want to strongly encourage because I know it will help her tremendously down the road with high school and college.
But she needs a space to do that work that is not shared with a now 4 and 6 year old.
2. Shared Table Can Be Distracting…and Messy
As I said, some homeschool subjects can be shared – science, history, art, read aloud books, P.E., music, etc. – and some are not (core subjects like reading, writing, and math).
We have been working around the same table together and it does work.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
It can be very easy for my oldest daughter to get distracted from her work as her eyes wonder over to the “super easy” math workbook her kindergarten sister is working on or the bright coloring page her preschool sister is working on.
Kids are known for having a short attention span, so sitting them closely together and giving them all different work can be distracting.
I have even had little disputes break out because the older sister wants to “help” the younger sister, but the younger sister doesn’t want any help.
Sometimes there is whining because somebody’s assignment looks like more fun.
There is the other problem of books, papers, folders, and other supplies spilling into somebody else’s work area.
3. Noise Level Control
Another problem we have is noise. Keeping a kindergartener and preschooler engaged during their lessons usually requires me to be animated and silly.
We have songs, games, high fives, and other shenanigans that any independently working 3rd grader would find distracting.
She has complained about the noise in the past, so I have sent her to her bedroom to work in peace.
I thought that was a good solution for awhile…
4. The Bed and Floor Doesn’t Produce Quality School Work
As most of us remember from high school/college, studying or writing in your bed is a really bad idea.
A quick google search brought up this great little article from Pepperdine University. The article states the obvious – that doing school work in bed will:
- Decrease productivity
- Decrease focus
- Potentially hurt your neck/posture
- Disrupt sleep patterns
I definitely didn’t want my kid to be getting in this bad habit in elementary school!
She would sometimes want to lay on the floor to work, but I told her that laying on the floor is not going to produce the kind of handwriting and quality work I expect from her at this point.
A flat, hard surface and a decent chair are needed to write at your best.
That’s When I Knew My Homeschooler Needed a Desk
We held off till Christmas and surprised my daughter with this Amazon desk for her room – and she loved it!
Its the perfect size for a kid’s room. It’s also adjustable, so the desk and chair will grow with her.
It has a roomy drawer for pencils, art things, erasers, papers, etc.
Her favorite feature is the attached desk lamp so she has extra light on whatever she is working on.
Just today she was complaining about my 4 year old making too much noise while she was finishing her math.
I reminded her that she can go to her room now and use her desk – she skipped right down the hallway and was done in no time!
I didn’t even realize it, but earlier today she was in her bedroom working on a top notch journal entry while I was busy playing kindergarten games with my middle child.
She has a place to go now that is the perfect space for her to do her best work – no distractions!
Is a Desk Right for Your Homeschooler?
I saw a Facebook post recently in a homeschool group of a teenage boy with multiple books, papers, and folders spread out over the living room couch.
The student was deep in thought studying and the mother snapped a quick picture because she was so proud of her studious teen.
I was kind of horrified.
Everything looked so disorganized and his posture (bent all the way over the books and papers while sitting sideways on a couch) was painful to look at.
Does that kid need a desk? Um, I would think so.
But maybe he doesn’t have one because:
- He can’t think when confined to one area – he likes a change of scenery with his studying
- He shares a room with a sibling and there is no room for a desk
- His parents can’t fit one into their budget right now
- He’s an only child and there is no need to retreat from the noise/distraction of siblings
- His spine is made of rubber
I have no idea!
I am telling you though, if your homeschooler is aging into independent work, I would strongly consider placing a desk in their room.
With every passing year, school will become more challenging and more hours will be devoted to reading, writing, and studying.
It is definitely worth investing in a study area that will produce the best results.
Have you been told to forego desks for your homeschool? Did you have one and throw it out? Do you have a desk and love it?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments! I would love to hear it!