Homeschooling High School with Workspaces for Your Teens

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Project based homeschooling high school requires large blocks uninterrupted time and it requires space for them to do their work. Homeschooling High School with Project Workspaces for Your Teens is a treatise on why you want these spaces for your teen and a tour of our own. Our home served as a place from which dreams were established and worked toward.

young woman at a sewing studio desk with patterns and muslin mocks ups on the desk in front of her

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With all the talk about project time and having a space carved out for working, I thought I would share with you our workspaces.We finally found a spot for J8 to do his many tinkering tasks and I’m ready for the big reveal.

R13 has had an art desk in her bedroom for years. It was a gift we built for our creative girl for her birthday. The boys had some shared space at our old house, but the move last summer open up more possibilities. Additionally, each of them started doing more project work. We had the tables before, but had not established them for project work until we moved.

We inherited two more tables as part of the move and we set them up in the basement for the boys. The basement is warm enough, even in winter and it is a great location for the type of projecting they are doing which involves paint, solvents, glue, and construction materials.

Why did we make their own space a priority?

  • The less we disrupt a project in process, the more depth we can see in the product.
  • When each child has her own space, they can plan and implement without worries over workspace.
  • Tools of the trade don’t have to be hustled away, so there are less interruptions to the work sessions.
  • Our kids love to retreat to their project spaces to do work whenever time allows.

Workspaces for Creative Work

Ethan is our oldest and he he did a lot of work creating custom minifigures. It was fun to see his skill progress from when he first started with Sharpies and when he was adhering fine decals and using other means to change a generic clone trooper into a specific character. Those were fun years!

If he wasn’t working here or too sick from Lyme, he was writing.

Always writing.

When our oldest, Ethan, was 14 he loved making custom LEGO minifigs. We created this space for him to work. Now he’s all grown up and has an apartment of his own where he works from home as a technical writer.
a teen boy sitting at a table typing on a laptop

Making a Workspace into a Studio Space for Sewing & Design

Rebecca’s had a space in her room since she was very young when my husband built an art desk for her one birthday.

When she started college, she preferred her home studio to the one on campus, so she did a lot of hard work in this space along with the common space in the basement.

She added to her tool set with a new serger she earned by teaching sewing in our home in high school and an embroidery machine for her high school graduation gift. The other workhorse machine she purchased as well since her first machine was a little delicate, earning the name Tinkerbell.

Workspace for Aeronautics and Rocketry Projects

Isaac is our history major and a huge fan of all things aeronautics. He did an enormous project building his own rocket from scratch and sending it at take off with a payload of an altimeter to check the height of the flight and whether or not they made their goal. I need to get a post written about that amazing project!

He has a space in our basement where he can work on his planes and rockets. Almost none of these spaces is pretty, but that is the sign of excellent work!

These days his realm is his computer for both competitive gaming and his college work.

Project Spaces for STEM Work

Joshua is our youngest and when he was 8 we set up a little tinker space for him. Now he’s got a pretty sweet computer and digital music set up.

a table with a book, chemical glassware, goggles, and an entomology box
J8’s table is a new addition. We’ve had the table a long time, but we moved it and cleared it for his use. He does his entomology here now and he is the proud owner of a lot of new chemical glassware. This is his tinkering spot!
a teen boy smiling while sitting in his chair in front of a computer with two large monitors
a teen at two monitors working with a midi keyboard with a huge window in the background
This homeschooling moment brought to you by 8 bit music theory, a midi keyboard, and the high school senior, who is the last of his kind.

What goes into creating a workspace?

  • Provide a work surface– tables are easy and we’ve found a lot on craigslist (as we search for bookcases!)
  • Provide the tools for the job– what is your child working on? What do they need to do the projects they want to do?
  • Provide ways to display work– so kids can see their plans and finished pieces along the way. You want plenty of reminders for inspiration. I love that about my own workspaces.
  • Remind kids of any boundaries– For example, J8 would choose to mix any household material together if he was allowed. For safety reasons, he has to get authorization on certain projects.
  • Limit the number of rules for the space– outside of safety, you’ll want kids to feel free to try things and figure things out. Too many rules will put a damper on investigating.
  • Choose a location that is right for the type of work– you don’t want a nice, carpeted room for paints and saws. Consider where you will be more relaxed when they are working!
  • Make a space– even one small card table is better than no space at all. Having lived in a small space for many years, I know a portable table and a plastic box for each of my boys would have been a great alternative if they could not have a permanent spot. Kids’ rooms make a great place for a corner to call their own. Think creatively!
Blog, She Wrote: Project Workspaces
Dan’s office workspace. Actually, he has a few but he spends a lot of time here. Many computer project quandaries are worked out here and this is the place where my blog was migrated to WordPress! The tower to the left is our home server…

What about workspace for parents?

  • Moms & Dads need work workspace too!
  • We model project time by engaging in our own space.
  • Having space for our own work gives us purpose.
  • Workspace may vary depending on the project. Dads may have workshop type space for handy work and a desk for other sort of work.
This is my writing and teaching space in the corner of our dining room which we call our media room. I run my business from here (unless I take my show on the road to the POH aka: The Porch of Happiness) and do homeschool planning from here.
a long wall of shelving and work surface full of tools and supplies
My studio space aka: My Secret Lair. This sits opposite Dan’s computer corner. This space was a gift for finishing my masters degree and it was built by Dan. It even moved from our old house to this one.
a set of vintage printer's drawers full of rubber stamps and a surface with a Cricut on top
I kind of love stamps. There are gobs more, but when my mom passed away I inherited the lion’s share of her stamp collection.
a long wall of counter surface and shelving with tools and supplies facing toward a window with a saying about creativity above it
The shelving was adapted from three long board shelves that came our old house. Dan split them, painted them, and put them on brackets. Totally adjustable. And lovely.
a wall with a BlogSheWrote poster and a bookshelf next to a printer and a rocking chair with a colorful quilt in front of the bookshelf
This little view is behind me when I sit at my studio and it’s the back drop for all the live calls inside membership and you see it on my Instagram reels.

Watch the evidence of good work appear. I like to be available for consultation and mentoring, but I try my best not to offer too many suggestions. Problem solving is a great skill for kids to practice.

Establishing a Common Project Workspace

entomology tools and books on a table
This is our school table in action. We have two entomologists in our home (retired) and all of their pinning work happened here.

Sometimes we need some common space for projects or space that is not assigned to any one person or that is free for our teens to borrow time in.

Our school table is a famous spot for all things collaborative. It’s taken over now by our youngest’s computer programming and digital music production along with our daughter’s art printer. Still that is a high use location!

Here are some examples of common project areas:

  • Basement work bench– this is my husband’s space, but soldering happens here and there is a huge lab sink that is perfect for rinsing or washing during project processes.
  • Basement Art Studio– one corner of the basement is dedicated to messy work such as painting, sculpting, ceramic work, and resin work, etc. It’s set up with two tables, one of which is our former FIRST LEGO League competition table covered in a thick plastic sheet.
  • School Table– this was the place of collaboration for many years. These days it’s shared by our youngest and his sister.
How to Plan a Unique Project Based High School course- teen girl standing beside a dressform with a finished garment

Our homeschooling in the high school years took on a project based approach based on the needs and inclinations of our students. We went all in and the results were amazing!

For additional thoughts on project workspace, enjoy reading Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners I love Lori’s approach to kids’ work and how we can facilitate good project work with our learners.

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    1. Nita I would say portable workspaces, but nothing too cumbersome because then it’ll be a pain to move around and set up.

      If my guys were as into projects like they are now in our last house, I would probably have a large table set up for actually working and then a spot where they could store things easily- a nearby bookshelf or a plastic bin that is stored under the table. You want it to be as quick to set back up as possible.

      Also, I probably would have worked to organize our small basement better so that we could have left the tables up for them to work. We parted with a lot of things to prepare our house to sell and I think we could have done it if that is what we set out to do.

  1. I love how you and your husband each have “project spaces,” too, so you can model the behavior you hope to instill in your children! You’ve inspired me to work harder to set up a sewing area for my daughter.

  2. Thank you for sharing your work spaces. We’re constantly packing and unpacking project material because we don’t have designated space. Our projects are constantly interrupted to clean up. I won’t even unpack my new sewing machine because I’ll only have to clean everything up in the midst of working. Looking forward to incorporating some new ideas.

    1. Michelle,
      I hope you can find space for leaving projects out- it does make things so much easier. Take out that new sewing machine!

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