How do you set up a homeschool room?
There are a few questions about homeschooling that I field frequently. People often ask how our homeschool room is set up, and they ask what curriculum we use. The curriculum question is fairly simple. We supplement real-life learning with voracious reading. Once our children get to third grade, we implement a computerized curriculum to make sure we cover the basics and to make record-keeping and grading simpler.
As for defining our work space, it is hard to pin down one particular place where we learn. Even bookwork is done in various places. With our recent move, we now have a room to dedicate to homeschool materials and activities, so I find myself wondering what a homeschool room should look like.
Over the years, the kids carved out a place in our old porch where they often went to "do school," but that space was pretty much off-limits to me. My teen was the teacher; the younger ones greatly enjoyed their time on the porch with her; and I was not about to interfere.
Time passes; kids grow and change. Our new year will look different than the last as my teen heads off to college. As we now have an extra room, we will put together our first ever dedicated homeschool area.
We have the opportunity to set up this room from scratch, taking what we know about our habits and our needs and turning that into an inviting learning space. When I say that we have the "opportunity" to do this, what I mean is that the boxes are still packed and waiting in the school room. I walk past them daily.
I want to tell you that a plan is forming, that I'm putting off the final design until we get the right shelves or until the desks arrive, but the truth is that I'm procrastinating. With every pass I make, the boxes mock me.
After 12 years of homeschooling, I still cannot define the ideal homeschool workspace. I am pretty sure it should not have piles of boxes in it. That seems clear enough. Since learning occurs everywhere, I have tried all these years not to have one central spot that is designated just for learning. Yet, here we are, trying something new.
The first hurdle is fitting everything into the space at hand. Books spill over into every room of the house, and that is a part of life I do not want to change. Almost every room contains a bookcase, each with a variety of reading material. We might find "Captain Underpants" snuggled in right next to Shelby Foote's three-volume history of the Civil War.
From time to time, I look at design magazines that use books as decorations, artistically piled here and there. In our home, that strategy just looks like piles of books. Maybe we'd look more like the picture in the magazine if our book piles weren't topped with Barbie shoes and paper airplanes.
I do have one thing on my wish list and that is a listening station. With this crew, that wish should probably be for several listening stations. Listening to stories, without visuals, stirs the imagination and, I believe, helps kids expand their attention spans.
As for the rest of it, I guess I will have to walk past the boxes a few hundred more times before I am ready to commit. For all of you homeschoolers who have a dedicated learning room, please head over to my homeschool blog (learningathome.freedomblogging.com) and post your best advice about creating a homeschool room.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found at appealdemocrat.com.