We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Friday, February 15, 2008

Home as a classroom

You know you are a homeschooler when: you covet your friends' playroom with comments like "oooo, I'd love to have this room for school"; you must take meals to the couch because the kitchen table is covered with school projects; your dining room sports interesting decor like timelines, historical maps, art projects; each room has a set of bookshelves (overflowing) - and even some of your hallways have bookshelves!

Any of that sound familiar?

If you are a homeschooler, you know that one of our perennial questions to one another is: "So, where do you do school?" The most common answers are: kitchen table, dining room converted into a part-time school room, a spare room (basement or playroom) made into a school room, and sometimes - "just wherever we are". That's what makes this meme at The Heart of the Matter so much fun!

In our homeschooling endeavor, we've tried a number of different places around our home, and I'm quite surprised where we've ended up.

When we started homeschooling in 2003, we used our kitchen table. I liked the central location and the way it encouraged us to "school through life" rather than have education be some seperate thing. After a few months, our supplies outgrew the small shelf I had in the kitchen, and we purchased a nice, tall cabinet in which to store books and daily supplies. We stayed at the kitchen table for about a year and a half, when I began having trouble containing my preschooler and toddler while I was doing school with my student. So, one week in the Spring semester of 2004, I bit the bullet...it was time to sacrifice the playroom.

It was actually a bit of a hard decision. The playroom had really become sort of the kids' "zone". How easy it had was to shuttle them off to the PLAYROOM! But, it had to be done we just got too distracted by all the "house" stuff if we were in the kitchen. I found someone selling some nice storage cabinets for our ever-growning supplies. We had an extra kitchen table from my parents we could use for our school table. And it would be delightful not to have to clear the school stuff up every day for lunch and then again for dinner. In fact, I could walk out of the school room, shut the door, and feel "DONE".

I relished setting up our fun school room. We had a futon, table, shelves, radio, white board, maps, and posters. The toddler had her special boxes of toys and the preschooler had his own "school" stuff. I had dreams of them playing so nicely while my student and I worked diligently. Well, the room itself was nice...but by the end of that year, I was waning in my appreciation for the school room.

We stuck it out through the rest of that school year and even started the next school year in our school room. But by the Spring semester of our 3rd year, I'd had it with the school room. When we were in the room we felt totally on top of each other. I was perpetually woried about kids messing with school stuff when friends came to play (I was determined to keep part of it as a play area). And I felt like our school was totally seperate from the rest of our lives. That was definitely not our vision for homeschooling.

Last spring, we abandoned the school room and returned to the kitchen table. The remnants of the school room are still there. The table has become a "drop point" (you know where you just drop stuff you don't have time to deal with) and my storage cabinets now hold books and supplies we don't need very frequently (or are holding for the younger kids). It is slowly evolving back to a playroom

So, we are back at the kitchen table...and on the couch...and in the study...and at the dining room table...and the kitchen counter...and I think you get the picture. We stretch out as we feel the need. In particular, I love being able to run a load of laundry or do some meal prep while still able to answer a question or direct a straggler. It just feels more like what HOMEschool should be.

We've re-enlisted the original school cabinet for school supplies and books we use on a daily basis. Here's a picture of the table in use...and in the background you'll see the cabinet with the doors open for school. When closed it blends right in with our kitchen cabinets:

Those books we use on a weekly basis are kept in our study, which is just a few steps away. I still have to clear the table for meals, but we've begun using the kitchen "bar" area for lunch which eliminates one meal. We LOVE this set up because it suits our family and our visiion for home education.

So where do you homeschool?


Belinda@upsidedownbee said...

What a wonderful gift you are giving your children! I never homeschooled, but taught my daughter for a couple of years at a small Christian Classical school we helped start. Teaching is the hardest job I ever had - especially teaching my own child! Peace to you today. B.

Southpaugh Homeschool - Heidi said...

WOW - - you have made some major changes! Glad that you are getting comfortable, again!! : )
Thanks for sharing!