This term usually means that you are trying to duplicate school at home - using textbooks, sitting in desks, doing subjects at a certain time, etc. And in the homeschooling community, "School At Home" is kind of looked down on.
And I don't want to School At Home. Part of why I homeschool is so that I can have the freedom to do things when we want to, where we want to, to spend more time on things that the children are interested in instead of leaving it because "we've got to get it all in" or my personal favorite "we've got to start preparing for standardized testing." (I'll refrain going on my rant on standardized testing for now.) I want to be able to do field trips, or having the children be able to take sewing lessons, art lessons, spanish lessons now instead of waiting until they are in middle school and can take electives.
I was reading a post about toys (or her lack of them) on a blog that I read. My children don't have a lot of toys either. The girls have stuffed animals, dress up stuff (old dance costumes mostly), a dollhouse with Only Hearts Dolls, and some horses. Super has a small bin of cars, a small bin of trains, dress up stuff (fire fighter stuff mostly), and a fire truck, an ambulance, a rescue helicopter, and some small construction vehicles. They do store these toys in their bedrooms - which I sort of wish that I could change. My opinion is that bedrooms should be for sleeping and storing/changing of clothes.
But there is no place else in our home to store their toys - because so many of our other rooms are being devoted to "learning areas." In our home, there are 4 bedrooms. There is the master bedroom, Super's bedroom, which also has a pack-n-play in it for napping toddlers, the Girls' room, which also has a spare twin in it for guests or napping preschoolers, and what was formerly the office, formerly the guest room, and now the Home School Room. It is mostly devoted to things for Elementary students. There are a couple of desks in there, some bookcases with books on them, a cabinet with math manipulatives and geography materials, a cabinet with art supplies in it, and an area for Workboxes. (As soon as I go through the kids' work on the table, I'll post pictures of the room.)
Upstairs, there is the Living Room - which is now basically the Toddler Room. The train table is in there, and a play kitchen, and baskets with puppets and silks, baskets with toddler toys, and a couple of bookcases. One bookcase has toddler tray activities, and the other one has books - scrapbooks and coffee table books up high, preschool books in the middle, toddler books, and then toddler toys on the bottom shelf. There is the dining room (there is a table with 6 chairs and a high chair. There is not room for much else, and there is no eat-in area in the kitchen.), the kitchen, a bathroom, the master bedroom, the laundry closet, and Super's Room.
Downstairs, there is the Preschool Area - which is actually in 2/3 of the Family Room. The preschool area has shelves around the perimeter and a couple of tables in the middle. On the other 1/3 of the room, there is a recliner, a couch, a loveseat, a couple of bookcases, an entertainment center, and the computer desk. Then there is a bathroom, the Girls' room, and the Home School room.
And that's it. Well, there are a few closets in the preschool area of the family room. One is a storage closet that goes under the stairs that I store out of season clothes, and seasonal decorations. One closet stores preschool materials when they aren't on the shelves, and one closet stores the sump pump, and paint. (I'll try and post pictures of the interior of the house so that it is a little clearer. But no promises, because my WHOLE house usually isn't clean all at the same time, especially long enough to take pictures.)
I sometimes feel like I've devoted a lot of my home to learning, which I don't think is a bad thing necessarily. But one of the downsides to the set-up is that the learning areas are in really separate areas - the Home School room is in downstairs, but down a hallway, and you can't see the preschool area from there or vice versa. You can see the preschool area if you are working on the computer, but then the Toddler area is upstairs. And there is no room to store any preschool or homeschool materials up there.
And then I find myself wanting to put more bookshelves in different areas, or bulletin boards upstairs for the parents to see, or on and on. I found myself wishing that I had a whole other home to set up for learning and then I could have my actual home for living in, and then it hit me - uh, wouldn't that really be like setting up a School At A Home? And not even my own home? (Oh, and what about the fact that I can't afford another mortgage LOL)
I don't know what the answer is though. I need to have things have "a home" and it wasn't working for me to have homeschool materials all over the house. It was too cluttered, and there really was just no real place to set them when they were done besides the ledge, and that drives me CRAZY. None of the bedrooms are really big enough to set up as a Montessori classroom for 5 students, and I really don't want to give up another bedroom anyway. And it is nice to be able to have a toddler proof room for them to play in.
I don't know. I'm rambling.