Now that you've decided to shift to homeschooling, with just a few weeks left of summer, you'll need to assess your home and consider how to transform it or select spaces into an ideal learning environment. In a similar fashion that schools and classrooms are designed for optimum utility, the homeschool environment needs to be adjusted to suit teaching and learning as well as living. Granted, you may be limited in possibilities if your home is space challenged, but more square footage doesn't always translate into a better learning environment. Consider these points as you prepare for your homeschool adventure.
Whether you have a small apartment or a ranch house with a completed basement on an acre of land, what counts most in creating a successful homeschooling environment is dedicated space. If a dining room table and living room are your working canvas, be mindful that this space during homeschooling hours are to be used only for homeschooling. This means that all dining accoutrements should be removed during the day and returned when family meals occur. Sound like a lot of work? Well, the space use and organizational shift will help you and your child stay focused to the tasks at hand - teaching and learning. Let's say you have a family room or usable basement - you may want to consider if possible and realistic, using it only for homeschooling.
If you have the space, use it wisely and mindfully. These zones are multipurposeful and well organized.
Smaller children (PreK-Grade 1) learn best through play-based activities. This includes dramatic play, working with building blocks, cooking sessions with mom, digging in the garden. They are developing their fine and gross motor skills as much as their formative academic (reading, numbers) and social skills (sharing, self-managemnet, etc). They also have shorter attention spans and need and or want to transition from activity to activity more quickly and frequently than their older counterparts. In terms of space - zones and corners work best. A cool teepee or bean bag chair may best belong in a reading corner, games and other toys in a cubby sectional, markers and papers in a caddy on a table top. Try best to keep the area clean and incorporate tidying up into the day's routine. Older students need less play space but they need the flexibility to learn in a variety of ways. A big boy/girl version of the little one's reading corner still offers a quiet and comfortable space to get lost in a great book. Organizational systems from dedicated shelving and work stations help create smooth transitions from subject to subject and develop independence and easy access to resources.
Remember, homeschooling need not be confined to the home. In fact, the more you can expose your kids to real life people, places and experiences as extensions of their learning, the better. Again, be mindful that a trip to the science museum doesn't turn into a sci-fi play date. Outline specific activities (tours, experiments, drawings, discussions, etc) to be completed and the purpose for them in relation to a particular subject or unit.
A great layout for a PreK-Grade1 homeschool/playroom.
What are your homeschooling space issues? Too much or too little space? Keeping space tidy and family friendly? Comment below and you might win a free Little School space design consult!