Setting up school at home...
By Beverley Paine
It's easy to create an environment at home to encourage your children to learn. Setting up a separate 'school room' may seem a nice idea and look appropriate, but such spaces are seldom used after the first few weeks.
It can be easier on Mum if you organise structured activities, including working from books, in the family room or living area of the house. Your children will tend to concentrate their activities around where you are anyway - they enjoy your company and want to be with you. This also allows you to complete chores as you help your children, answering any questions they may arise.
It isn't necessary to transform your home into a traditional school room. Schools often go to considerable expense to replicate the many natural learning resources and features of the home. Don't make the mistake of transforming your home into a traditional school room. Think creatively about those which existing rooms and furniture you can exploit to help your children learn.
We found the following useful in our homeschooling adventure:
- Science often seems to happen naturally in the wet areas of the house: kitchen, laundry bathroom: have tubs or containers for experimenting with water, mixing and pouring liquids, etc.
- A free table (preferably not the dining table!) for unfinished, in-progress projects or work is essential!
- Visible resources often stimulate learning activities. Encourage activities by storing books, art and craft materials, toys and games on shelves that are accessible to the children. Use clear or labeled containers and shallow trays on shelves, particularly for art and craft materials. Materials in cupboards, drawers or opaque containers are quickly forgotten.
- Have places for celebrating learning by displaying finished work on walls, shelves, windows and ledges.
- Provide easy access by the children to reference and fiction texts, at the children's current level and beyond. Encourage the children to look things up for themselves.
- Create a simple system of storing and organising educational materials: folders, such as bookshelves, filing boxes or in a filing cabinet. Don't forget the computer for files and pictures. Encourage the children to share this responsibility.
- Avoid clutter, which can lead to confusion and disorganisation. Losing or misplacing materials and things you find you suddenly need can cause frustration and annoying delays to learning activities.
- Have somewhere to store or display the many collections that will evolve over the years which the children won't allow you to throw out!
- Involve the children in planning the spaces they use for their activities. Organise the layout of your home and garden to suit the needs of everyone in your family. You may need to re-define traditional uses for rooms!
After a few months most homeschooling homes eventually resemble the best busy and active junior primary classrooms, taken over by the learning artefacts of happy children and parents!
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
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 supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since 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. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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