How We Maintain The Home/School Balance
At Our House
Written by Ann Simpson
My husband and I
love homeschooling our children. We also really like our home and we don't want
it to look like a school. In case you're like us, and you like the separation
between home and school, I'd like to share with you, just how our family
maintains the home/school balance at our house:
First, and this is very important, we
designate a certain area in our home for our homeschooling endeavors.
Keeping the school area separate from the rest of the house allows us to
truly focus on school when we're in education mode and it helps us keep
the home feel of our house when our educational endeavors are finished
for the day (although we all know that learning is never really
finished for the day).|
Our house has an open floor plan, so we
added an attractive doorway—with a door that can be closed, to
keep the two areas (home space and school space) separate. It's nice to
have the door closed during our schooling day, separating ourselves from
the rest of the house. And at the end of the school day, it's nice to be
able to close the door, without always having to clean up, especially if
we're mid way through a project. And really, we're always mid way
through a project!
We made a family policy that everyone in
our family is to respect our homeschooling space. What does this mean?
It means that siblings can't run in screaming and laughing when another
child is working....or even come in and ask, "Mom, have you seen my iPod?"
By the way, why is it, that they always think we know where their things
are? Perhaps, because we almost always do?
We made sure our school area has lots of
lighting, comfortable chairs, an abundance of school supplies, bookcases
chocked full of interesting books (think library sales, garage sales,
etc), and a large project area (we love projects).
I realize that not everyone can have a
separate space for their schooling endeavors—but really, with a little
rearranging, perhaps it can be done. Did I mention that our space is our
formal dining room? We just didn't use it much as a dining room—we use
it every day as a learning space. The new doors enhance the space, and
when it comes time to sell our home, the room can easily be put back to
being a dining room. Perhaps you have a comfortable basement, a guest
bedroom that is rarely used, or with a little work, a garage can be
turned into an inviting learning area.
If this just isn't possible for you, the
kitchen table is always a great space. My girlfriend uses her table all
the time. She removes everything from the table for educational
purposes, and when learning tasks are complete, she puts a tablecloth on
the table—thus defining school and family time as separate. It sounds
simple—but it works!
I don't know about you—but my vehicle is
also a school room and thus, I've equipped it as such! We have four
small separate bins in the back of the car--one for videos/CDs, one for
books, another for basic school supplies, and last but not least, one
for nonperishable snacks (learning can make one very hungry). Everything
is within reach of the backseat thus making it in reach for the kids. I
even made canvas storage bags that hang over the front seat headrests
into the back seat, and these are filled with a spiral notebook, pens,
drawing materials, and whatever books my kids are presently reading.
Now—this is a HUGE one—not only do I
take advantage of my house and my car, I use other people's spaces too!
I partner up with other homeschooling Moms and go to their homes (they
come to mine too), the kids and I go to the library (their long tables
are great for spreading out), to the park (sometimes for messy
projects)—even to my in-laws, as that's where my son practices the
drums. Yes—my mother-in-law is wonderful!
The spaces we don't use for learning—are
my kids' bedrooms. Per our agreement with them, there are absolutely NO
school related items in their bedrooms—unless of course, they want them
to be there (my kids read before they go to bed, so books are always
there). What I'm trying to convey is, they don't have element charts or
history timelines on their walls--and they can play a video game in
their room, they don't have to watch PBS. Just like we like our home to
look like a home, they want their room to look like their room.
We understand that.
So there you have it—how we keep the balance
in our home. For some this might not be important—for us, it really is. And
I think the separation actually lets me be a better Mom and a better
teacher. But that's just me...