Friday, September 24, 2010

Making the School Room Work

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We’ve been doing this homeschooling gig for almost four weeks now and I gotta say it’s been going pretty good.  Last year one of the appeals of doing school at home was being able to plop down anywhere in the house and get school done.  I thought that it would be great and that I would be one of those super cool, multi-tasking, keeping it all together moms.  I’ve found out that I’m not so super cool and that mom’s who keep it all together don’t really exist in real life.
I also found out that lack of order makes my zany.  Well, I already knew that but I didn’t know the extent of my kookiness until we tried to make the kitchen and the living room our school room.  I had really good intentions but what resulted was a giant mess everywhere that was so overwhelming.  By the time school was over it was all I could do some days to get it cleaned up and eat lunch.  I also discovered how easily distracted students and teacher could become; whether it was a ringing phone, a delivery truck outside, the need for a snack, a silly three year old, the toys left out from the day before or anything shiny we all had a hard time staying focused.  I know it was our first year homeschooling and I know I was attempting a lot by trying to teach first grade anything with two preschool age girls running around, and usually in their my little pony chonies, but it was incredibly hard.  We did have our good days but somewhere along the way I began wishing for a school room.  My wishes turned to prayers, and wouldn’t you know it-He answered
So we’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ here for a bit and it’s been wonderful to have a dedicated space to get our schooling done.  Here’s what we love, and how these ideas just might work for any kind of school space-bonus room, kitchen, living room, dining room….whatever.
Have a really big workspace.  The big desk gives me a place to sit down and work on things one on one with each child.  Levi usually does math here because it gives us room to spread out all our stuff. 
(Side note-we are loving Right Start Math.  Math was a challenge last year, not because it was difficult for him but because he was bored stiff.  This has been the right fit for us, we all enjoy math now.) 
The desk also works great for art projects.  Having one big area for lots of busy hands is key for us.  I guess if you don’t have three students then it might not be that big of a deal but it sure is helpful to spread out.  If you don’t have a special school room you probably have a kitchen table or a dining room table or someplace you could set up a folding table on the fly, if nothing else you do have some sort of kitchen floor-that could work too.  My mom doesn’t home school anyone but she did have a cool cover made for her range in her kitchen.  It happens to sit in a good sized island and once it’s covered she’s got tons of workspace or buffet space. 
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Plan for snacks.  Being upstairs makes the snacks a little farther away, which is really good until it comes to snack time.  Our solution is to buy some special school snacks, things I might not normally buy like Pirates Booty are pretty exciting come snack time.  The kids take turns being snack helper and they love preparing something for their siblings, carrying the tray up and helping pass the goodies out.  This also gives antsy teachers, I mean kids a chance to stretch their legs.  So grab a special tray and find some special snack time only items to serve up and watch your kids get excited.  Snacks are good, period.
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Plan on a place to be cozy.  I didn’t really plan on keeping the loveseat but once we found an arrangement that worked for us I decided I might regret getting rid of it.  It’s a great place to read and stretch out and jump off of while doing school.  I pushed the loveseat and chair together in a sectional kind of way.  I guess it’s a fectional, you know, a fake sectional.  It works and I think we’ll be holding on to this bad boy a bit longer.  This is an easy one to incorporate into your home-find a comfy place to read to your kids, and use it often.  (And no, she’s not sleeping-just being her silly self and pretending.)
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And finally, make sure they have a dedicated workspace.  It is a super big deal for each of my kids to have their very own personal place.  They store treasures and notes and shaped rubber bands in those desks, I check them every so often to make sure they haven’t stored anything that’ll get stinky, and then every once in a while I leave a special treat for them to find at the beginning of the school day.  You don’t need students desks for this, maybe it’s a little place in their room or a special corner set up as a reading corner.  My sister has that little awkward closet under her stairs-my niece has it stuffed with her stuff and it’s like a special little hiding place.  If your kids are like mine and love to be on the floor you could use carpet remnant and a basket full of their school supplies, set them up and they’ll have a little place to themselves close enough for you to help them through assignments.  I think the key here is to not be on top of each other all the time, having some separation is really good.  Last year we made a partition out of poster board display-you know, one of those three sided things?  It was somewhere they could retreat to, even if they were still at the kitchen table.  And it really minimized distractions.
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And what of the chalkboard?  We love, love, love it!  It is used so very much.  Chalkboard paint makes it easy to put a chalkboard anywhere, but a big giant white board to move in and out might be okay.  We didn’t go that far last year but I did pick some little white boards, they were great for copy work and spelling and writing down math facts.
And that’s the long and short of it.  This room works for us.  I know everyone is different and some don’t need to be organized as much or as structured and that’s cool.  I know I’m not one of those so people so it’s wonderful to have this place and to end the school day and walk away to a clean house….usually, sometimes breakfast dishes are here, there and everywhere, but I’m good with that.  It’s evidence that we tried to start them off right with a healthy breakfast.  Even if they feed half of it to the dog.
So that’s the end of a very long bunch of blabbering…happy homeschooling to all you homeschooling types out there and happy weekend to all of you….We’ll be carving out family time and enjoying a burst of summer like weather before the snow starts to fly.  Enjoy your weekend, whatever you end up doing!

1 comment:

  1. Nice school room! We have a dedicated school room because I can't stand the disorderliness that comes with having stuff all over the house.

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