January is the usual start of The Big Purge of Unnecessary Things and General Rearranging of Stuff and this, of course, includes our homeschool environment and the spaces in our home we designate for learning.[sws_pullquote_right]The idea is to craft a better learning environment for my girls, one that sparks imagination and creativity in a self-directed manner. [/sws_pullquote_right] We don’t have a dedicated “school room,” but most at-home things are done in the dining room as it’s the area with the best light and space. For the most part it’s organized: books are on shelves (um…and the floor… I have a book problem), most supplies are corralled in some fashion, pencils sharpened, notebooks labeled and ready. But I’m rearranging things a bit – the goals being to 1) set up zones for different learning pursuits and 2) focus the way we approach our day so the girls aren’t just checking off a list, but really getting into projects they care about.
The overarching idea is to craft a better learning environment for my girls, one that sparks imagination and creativity in a self-directed manner. Also, I want them to feel more in control of their learning, with me being the mentor/facilitator more than the teacher. I’m taking baby steps, so no big reveal of the space here. But, I will share with you some resources I found that I’ll use to implement this approach.
Intentional Spaces for Learning
This idea I really like. The Limon Lime Adventures blog recommends creating different zones – writing, reading, creating, discovering – and gives some great ideas for simplifying and curating spaces in a way that invites learners to engage and explore. There are some really great ideas on this website, and the photos are enviable in a Pinteresty sort of way.
This part of our school redesign will be a staged approach for sure, for it involves carving out space in our otherwise spaceless house (or at least creatively and drastically rearranging things).Right now, our school stuff is stored by type. The first step is grouping by use and project to make things more easily accessible for my students.
Experience-based learning is similar to the intentional learning spaces approach above, but starts to wrap projects into the mix, plus it schedules out the rhythm of the day. The Homeschool Realm breaks the day up into different “experiences” that the student will have each day: watch something, listen to something, create something, play something, write something, read something, and math. It’s a little less free-form, but still engages and inspires. Plus, I like the addition of “play something and “listen to something.”
Again, this method employs stations the student will work in during the day, but it’s more directed (either by the student or the me “guiding”). Combined with the Intentional Learning Spaces, this could really be a powerful way to make the day flow smoothly, adding a bit of structure, yet leaving the choices (with guidance) up to the child.
Now, this is the next big step and the long view. Setting up learning zones/stations and making a better self-directed learning environment will ultimately lead to Project-based Homeschooling where everything is student-led. This is ultimately what I’d like to try so they’ll discover how to be life-long learners.
The website is really worth going through (and the book is worth purchasing). Lots of good ideas and a completely different way of approaching homeschooling – as a way to educate your kids and as a way of life. Definitely not “school at home” but rather a lifestyle approach that, for me, is very desirable.
Share your Space
Do you have a space that fosters creativity and a love of learning? Tell us about it in comments!
Looking for more topics about homeschooling, specifically in Huntsville & Madison County?
See all the posts in this series HERE.
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Karen Gann had a marketing communications career in high tech before taking a sharp turn into stay-at-home-momdom and homeschooling. She grew up in the Tennesse Valley, lives in Huntsville, and is wife to the wittiest man alive, mother to two head-strong and independent girls (they're adorable, really), and human caregiver to the cats. Addictions include Facebook, Pinterest, NYC's Radio Lab, coffee, food, and politics (not necessarily in that order but sometimes all at the same time). She's also the marketing director for Pandia Press in her spare time.