Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog Cruise: SisterT's Talking About HSing in the SMALL Places!


How do you or do you homeschool in a small area (small space, small house, etc.)?

While I'm not small physically, but financially I AM a small person~I don't have a HUGE grand home~I don't have...blah, blah, blah...but what I do have, has done the job~and we've been doing the job into our 10th year~We've ALMOST completed it, too~woot!!

But HSing in a small place has never been a barrier for me.  In fact, I prefer NOT to have a dedicated  or large space, because twice now, in our HSing I've had them.  I LIKE having HSing integrated into our home and lives~but...this too can have draw backs. Do you have a dedicated space, however small it might be or do you drool over the fashionably design deva coordinated school room~shelves all matching~tools all coordinated~things all orderly and BEAUTIFUL?  Well, yes.  I guess on some level we might all desire that...but I'm here to say that it might NOT be best and it's certainly NOT necessary.  All the 'put together' of the latest-greatest things in decor won't get your children NOR mine taught the 3Rs much less the 'important' things in life.  So SisterT, JUST WHAT are you saying you might be asking.

HSing imho happens BEST in the natural environment of our homes.  RADICAL~I know.  In fact, I've tried it a few times THE OTHER WAY~and while it's very necessary to have essentials like storage/places to sit and the items needed to officiate the learning, all the glitz and glam~WHILE NICE, isn't necessary...and having a small space just might be BEST!

Okay~here's my story.  You see, in our HSing we've done it living in...five different homes.  Each had its pluses and minues~but I do know that the BIGGEST waste of energy was early on when I set up a dedicated school room which we QUICKLY abandoned! Why? Because we were too isolated.  ENTIRELY too isolated.  My children nor myself enjoyed being shut away from the hub of the home~our family room (which is essentially a living room.)  And so it wasn't long that the little schoolroom become repurposed into a bedroom and our book shelves found their way into our living spaces.

I think working at the kitchen table gives wonderful importance to the task of doing 'school work.'  And I know that while sometimes our routines might be interrupted b/c we are doing 'school' we do have to dedicate time to it for sure~AND this will mean that when my kids are curled up on the sofa reading or in the recliner or even at the table~there were days and still are they will spread out on the floor~ANYTHING goes as far as WHERE~but the importance of being able to drop all other HOME ACTIVITIES to focus on the educational aspect means that we really value VALUE value the learning that is going on!  Hub stops! Grandma stops! I stop! And even the dogs and cats stop! Everything can be put on hold for that treasured time each day when learning takes precedence

It's not always convenient either. We have a tutor coming twice a week and they work at our kitchen/dining table. Our home is open concept so we all leave these rooms in order for peace to reign~I don't fix food or anything~well...I do try to be prepped so when he gets here all is set~but it takes order and organization to pull this off~and believe me, it's not always easy, but we do it b/c it's important!

Finding places and order in the everyday~When we first began and even today, I stored stuff in unusual places for HSing so that it was readily accessible and in the normal environment.  For instance, I used and still do use our buffet in our dining room to store OUT OF SIGHT schooling items.  When they were littles each child had a door and drawer~today it's a chest type and the printer paper/ink and stuff like that is there~printer is beside it~networked over 7 computers in our home! Okay, you get the idea? We put stuff where we can~and of course I have some lovely shelving that hub built just a few years ago(see that pic of the bookcase!)~oh boy! yes! AND these are in our family room which is a very very very small room crammed with three recliners~well, we school between this room and a small space we created to put two computer desk top stations(another pic here with daughter and cat!/son and desktop).  But unless it's the computer stuff they're doing~and sometimes even still b/c they both have lap tops that will access the materials~they will take it all to the dining room table  or couch or even into their rooms. It just makes sense, and my daughter says she can spread out better on the floor with her books.  My son prefers his bed or the couch to read!  I don't expect them to school sitting at those work stations all day~in fact, I hope they won't!  I've gotten padded office chairs, but overall~the kitchen/dining table does it best!

I found, too that I don't *LIKE* cleaning more rooms than are necessary!  Incorporating HSing into our lives has worked so well~that I don't ever plan to change this aspect of our lives! Learning IS a natural occurrence of our lives~WHY worry and manufacture the environment?
A few benefits of schooling in the normal environment whatever the size space is that I believe our children not only GET the importance of education, but they learn HOW to learn in the regular everyday.  Nothing hard about that...and also that they can develop a good attitude and probably won't even realize that school happens ALL the time!  Do you realize you are teaching AS YOU GO?  Deut definitely admonishes the parents in the Old Testament to teach their children the precepts of the Lord as they went about the EVERYDAY.  This is such a key to learning how to do LIFE. I'm not an advocate of a 'curriculum' for 'life skills' either. To me, they are best taught naturally!

Tips for HSing in a tight space:
1. Use the storage you have well~organize and catagorize.
2. Weed out! Boy, do I need to do this~in fact..I will be SOON! AND let me say that the public library often has what we need as does digital storage or FREE online~why accumulate and store when online works well?
3.  Use book bags for each child~I did this for years~it made our work portable and kept it all together~
4.  Bookshelves/cases~of course, this will depend upon your actual SPACE in your home, but a single book width bookcase can fit nicely behind most soft cushy chairs in the livingroom or along side kitchen walls~also I've used these in the children's room to organize toys verses the hodgepodge of a toy box making their play items much more accessible.
5. Boxes or baskets~I use these to organize on the shelves to make them seem less cluttered (Ya think? MY STUFF IS WAY TOO CLUTTERED) But in the living spaces baskets and boxes (attractive ones you can make or buy) will HIDE all that school stuff~whoot!
6.  Finding creative places to store stuff: under the couch, in buffets, on book cases, in cabinets, in book bags, baskets on the floor, behind the piano (this is where some of our BIG charts are stored!) and the like...on a door that is always opened~to the back is our daily schedule...we don't have all our school stuff hanging out for all visitors to SEE, but it's there~believe me ;-))

Okay~so that whole crew if offering up their thoughts! Head on over to ck it out            !

BELOW you can see what a 'best' teenage 'friend' LOL did to her pic...LOL! LOVE IT! LOL

Do you have a big place dedicated or do you incorporate it into the natural normal environment of your home?  Thanks so much for coming by~;-))


Stacie said...

Hey Sister T!

This was a great post with good ideas. I'm still trying to figure out our "space situation" for next year. It will be our 1st home schoooing year, and for now we will be at the kitchen table (I think). Husband is trying to get a space together for me, but I'm not sure which one I'd rather do. Hmm. . . you gave me some things to think about. Thanks, lady!!

Take care,

Debbie said...

Good post. We are currently living in our largest home and it is still small. Like you, we homeschool all over the house. Homeschooling is definitely integrated into our everyday life.

Mozi Esmé said...

Interesting post! We homeschool all over our minute house, and I am SO looking forward to our 200sqft schoolhouse being finished so we can move in and spread out and not have to pack up the school stuff all the time just so we can live. But I DO like the idea of kids learning that learning can take place as part of everyday life, and that you don't need a special environment for it...