Thursday, September 16, 2010

The School Spot

Do you have a spot in your home that always looks messy just because there is too much stuff there? I our school spot. I'd like to be one of those homeschooling moms that just has a shelf or so of books and kids working at the dining room table. The kind of place where you see some tasteful maps on the wall and a globe on the bookshelf too. Kids work at the table or lounge in chairs or in their bedrooms to do work. You see projects and things going on, but in general you know these folks are homeschoolers. Completely without the desire to recreate school- at home.

Then there are those homeschoolers who have nice school rooms all full of awesome classroom "stuff". You know who they have a mental image of those rooms now. Maybe some of you wish you could have that kind of space. Some of you are glad you don't have it! Nice pocket charts, maps, and posters adorn the walls. Student work is proudly displayed. Each student has a desk or at least a space to work in.

And then there's me. An enigma between the worlds. Our school space is in our playroom- the playroom is the space where most people would likely have a family room space. Except that when we moved here we had a toddler with another on the way and we had no furniture to have a family room. We had moving boxes made into a tunnel and we had a crate shelf from IKEA. I put toys on it. We also had an old kitchen table from my husband's childhood home. Then there was a bookshelf and my writing desk. A hodge podge of things that didn't necessarily go together, but were put together out of necessity. Some of those things moved around a bit, but eventually they all came together in the same room.

Then we had more kids and we got more toys. And more books. I got craftier and we had more fun together. People asked if I ran a daycare. And then we started homeschooling. The first semester we had a tiny bookcase upstairs and we sat on the sofa a lot and worked at the kitchen table. I even had a tiny table in the boys' room where my 6yo could do his work! But then my other kids started getting older and changes started to happen. I've tweaked as time has gone on and well here we are!

So, I guess we have a "school room". Not because I really, super want one, but because I have so much STUFF that it all just comes together here out of functionality more than anything else. My kids would be content with the kitchen table or the living room sofa or the floor or a blanket outside or...wherever. Despite the appearance of our room, we have a relaxed homeschool environment. I have a routine we follow, but we leave margin in our school days for things that present themselves at the last minute. No matter how much I want to get a large list of school things done in one day, what happens is plenty of school and not always in typical fashion. We have lots of good conversation, we read a lot, we do challenging math adventures, we love geography and do tons with that on any given day. We always have a fun unit study going- mostly FIAR but also focusing on the kids' interests. If a question arises on how something works, we take the time to find out. I try to have the kids pursue questions to a natural conclusion rather than making them wait or just giving them an answer. It's hard to resist the request to keep reading when we've already gone 3 chapters and they want "just one more!"

I think I need more margin in our space to compliment it though. There is peace in simplicity.

The computers and the reference rack- Remembering we have a Kindergartner, I have the calendar up front and center! Our reference books are there and right on the other side of this picture is our school table. That same kitchen table I mentioned earlier only with shorter legs and some great sturdy chairs. Dan made me three sets of legs so I could have one of those "adjustable" tables for pennies compared to the price of a classroom one. Our chairs are super and great for carpet from Lakeshore Learning- called Tuff Stuff Chairs. We even bought the same one in a teacher chair for R10's art center.

The very full bookshelves. The one on the left holds magazines on top and the books for the kids on the rest of the shelves. They are categorized by subject and I put stickers on them. Did I ever tell you about that? Hmmm...each subject has its own color. I also have boxes for Newberry books, biographies, etc. The shelf on the right is my teacher shelf. It has all my resources by subject area and since it does have ends I stack things on the end. That makes things look pretty messy. On the bottom shelf are all of our FIAR books.

This is where my desk used to be- instead I put together a makeshift counter top on top of college dorm room crates. Really. This is where I have math manipulatives for the kids to grab and put back on their own. It's also where I keep the playdough tools. Because playdough is important and deserves prime real estate. The counter top is left over from R10's art desk.

The resource corner- lots of markers, crayons, glue, rulers, etc. You name it and it is probably there. I have drawers for free drawing and paper airplane making paper, stencils, and cardstock for lapbooks.

The listening corner- a basket full of books on CD and a CD player along with a comfy seat. The bags on hooks are dress up theme bags.

My desk in its new location- this is sort of a dead spot in our room. And wow! It's been a while since I've managed our craft closet. What a crazy mess that is! On the floor in front of the closet? Our science kits from birthdays this summer... The desk has my laptop on it and is my homeschool prep station. It makes a great place for me to sit while the kids work and they can bring things to me.

The Workbox Wall- you know...these just do not match our homeschooling style, but we continue to use them to store our many, many, many notebooks. It also gives me a place to put work that I prepare ahead of time. So, that it doesn't get lost.

You can bet this space provides a jumping ground for our children's imaginations. There is hardly ever a moment when there isn't some creating going on either at the table or on the floor or anywhere in between. Elaborate systems of invention or paper airplane factories or wooden trains that sprawl. Oh my.

Very soon my kids will be older and older kid things will replace a lot of this stuff. Only too soon they will be grown and I'll be able to do whatever I want with this room. Until then...we'll try to simplify without losing the creative space.

So, there it is...note the messy. Just keeping it real for you all!


Lynda Schultz said...

lol! I don't feel so bad. I am not alone. This is organized chaos at it's best.

Kisha said...

Wow, Heather. That reminds me of how our "school room" used to look in our house in California. I love your realness. Here in Italy, we don't have the space for all of that. We stick to the dining room table mostly. But I still miss the space for my kids to be creative.

Tracey said...

Got books? Do you even need to go to the library at all? LOL! WOW! You have a lot of stuff and workboxes! Agreeing with Kisha about your realness.

I just think I am organized but really I am not.