Our dining area probably looks like a mini classroom to some.
I often read advice from one homeschooler to another, “you don’t have to do school at home,” and they’re right, NO, you don’t. (actually, I am certain I’ve written that before..)
We certainly don’t- our homeschool looks much different than a typical classroom.
But I am not going to deprive our learning environment of helpful tools for the sake of not creating a “classroom at home.”
Someone asked in a homeschool group recently if everyone hangs school posters, ABCs, etc on their walls.
Of course some did, many did not, and some of us trained teachers spoke up with what we know to be true:
If it isn’t at eye level, and isn’t used/referred to almost daily, it probably won’t be used.
My A-ha! Moment
After Christmas I took down our school calendar.
And today I am putting it back up.
I took it down, partly, because it was ONE more thing in the house, and I am tired of things and stuff … but also because it looked like school.
But you know what?!
WE USED THE CALENDAR! Like, every dang day.
We looove moving the days of the week, the kids enjoy pointing to the dates. They do well keeping up with the days, and reading a calendar. And frankly, I use it when I need to glance at the month when I am thinking about our activities, travel and such.
Clearly, my “ugh, this room looks like a classroom and there is stuff everywhere, MUST. DE. CLUTTER,” arrow was misguided. There are probably many other things I could have removed, that would make it feel less cluttered in our home … But our big, ugly, blue school calendar that screams “preschoolers live here,” wasn’t one of them.
We use and enjoy that big ugly school calendar.
It is not like me to question what I know to be true.
And I know what works for us.
I recently wrote a post about changing how you do things because other people’s voices get in your head… y’all I never thought a post like that would resonate with me. Not because I am immune to self doubt, but because if there is one thing I do not doubt, it is my ability to homeschool my children.
Be Confident in Your Decisions
When we feel doubtful about the process, methods, or our atmosphere in general, we should take it to the Lord.
I know I often find myself frustrated or questioning things, and going forth in prayer is always the most helpful (although in true human fashion I try to figure it out on my own with little in the way of results).
If you want to have a room especially for homeschooling, that has posters, maps, colorful designs, and handwriting charts around the room, DO IT! Just because you dress up your area with useful tools doesn’t mean you stand at a chalkboard and teach like a public school classroom.
I recently purchased a
waaaay to big for our area larger whiteboard for our homeschool, because I couldn’t fit much on the little art one we had. I do not stand and teach from it (it is on a short easel so I can write on it while sitting at the table with the kids, or they can easily use it), but we have it so that we can fit our ideas, brainstorm for topics together, keep different topics of review posted, etc on the board.
(It also helps me with review throughout the week- if I can see what we are studying or what they are interested in, then it is in my brain. For me, out of sight out of mind is SO true, and I will completely forget what we want to
In our home, it is about making literacy part of the environment (another post coming on that soon).
I know the benefits and results of modeling for students- modeling writing, making charts for organizing thoughts, brainstorming ideas, writing the date, using information on the board or from a book. Just like we model how to read by tracking words on the page with our fingers and blending sounds, or how to behave in public, use manners, etc., we can model learning in our homeschool. That is how I use our white board.
It is big and probably ugly to most people, plus takes up an entire corner in the house, but it works for us in this season. I am sure Charlotte Mason would tell me to get rid of it, and a CM purist would probably hate my house.
And that is okay, no matter what anyone else sees or thinks about it, it works for us. =)
When it isn’t Working
Modify and adjust.
One of the key terms (how often do I write that ….?) in my teacher’s program was modify and adjust. Don’t be a slave to ANYTHING in your homeschool- not the curriculum, not the planner, not the table, not the 4 walls of your house, not other people’s expectations, not the lack of curriculum, NOTHING.
If it doesn’t work- modify and adjust. If the perfect, colorful, fun room you set up never gets used and you really need to turn it into a nursery for the coming baby, DO IT.
If you just can’t handle schooling the the basement (although you have room and shelves and tables), because it is so dark and dreary- MOVE TO THE MAIN FLOOR OF THE HOUSE! (<–this is us!)
If the birds chirping and the green grass outside on a warm spring morning are calling your name- move outside!
It’s ok to be excited and want the very best of everything in your home and homeschool. But when it isn’t working or useful, when it causes stress/clutter, or isn’t getting results- Try something different.
Modify and Adjust. =)
What is working in this season for you, that maybe you thought you would never do/use?
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