Preparing the Physical Learning Space
© Beverley Paine
The following is an exerpt from Getting Started with Homeschooling Practical Considerations for Parents of School Age Children
Children learn wherever they are and at any time of the day. You can't stop them doing it! You can build on this by planning quality learning experiences for them. Quality learning experiences are those where everyone makes the most of the time available, and is happy with what they are doing and resultant outcomes, and where skills and information are retained for future use.
Quality learning experiences don't often happen by accident although many will occur without your intervention or planning. Your children will naturally seek out learning situations to avoid boredom. If your children aware demonstrating the classic symptoms of boredom, or are irritable and fighting among themselves or with you, preferring destructive over constructive behaviours, then it may be time to seriously consider the physical and attitudinal aspects of their environment. There are many factors which can contribute to unhappy home schooling situations and most are easily remedied.
Spending time preparing your home as a place for learning is essential. You will find you will use the whole home, inside and outside. Outside also extends to the community: see Part 8 for more information. This section deals with the immediate home environment.
There is no need to prepare separate or distinct 'learning' areas. Setting up a 'school room' may seem a nice idea and look good, but such spaces are seldom used after the first few weeks! Organised or structured learning activities, including working from books, usually occur in the family room or living areas. Some existing areas in the home are already ideally set up to locate certain activities, such as kitchen for cooking, science and maths, table or tiled floor for art work, etc.
Schools often go to considerable expense to replicate the many natural learning resource and features of the home. Take advantage of what you already have, thinking creatively about which areas, existing furniture and features you can exploit in your learning program.
The following list of suggestions has proven useful to homeschoolers:
Most families homes eventually end up looking a little like junior primary classrooms, taken over by the artifacts of children and parents very busy learning. Try to keep one or two rooms free of learning related objects, to escape to and relax in.
Although the above points are good to consider, maximizing learning potential involves a lot more than providing access to resources in a child centered way.
Preparing the Learning Environment:
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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