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Creating Spaces to Learn

Our learning is most definitely not confined to one area of the house. It happens everywhere: out on nature walks; at museums; across the globe as we travel; in the supermarket; listening to audiobooks in the car; playing with their friends; or really wherever they happen to be. That being said, we do have a variety of different learning spaces set up throughout the house for the Beans to use, which I thought it might be interesting to show you.

Independent, self-led learning is undoubtedly the most powerful way for children to assimilate information and grasp new concepts. To facilitate this, I’ve tried to position our assorted selection of learning materials, be they art materials, science equipment, books or games, in the places where the Beans are most likely to pick them up and start using them. For us, this means they’re spread throughout the house and tucked into corners across the rooms allowing the Beans to spread out and make the best possible use of the space available.

Book baskets are positioned next to cosy spots to snuggle down in; art materials are left out on open shelves in a room designated as the “messy craft room” for them to explore to their hearts’ content; history wall books are stuck up in the kitchen; and games are organised in a cupboard next to a low coffee table, a perfect location for setting up that family game of Cluedo!

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Essentials

You absolutely don’t need a dedicated room for homeschooling but finding areas in your house for the following activities is a good idea.

They’ll need a space to:

  1. Write – be this on their own desks or at the kitchen table, and ideally with their workbooks stored nearby.
  2. Do arts, crafts and science type projects (a place where it’s OK to be messy!) – again this could be at the kitchen table or a corner of a room, with the materials laid out or stored somewhere easily accessible.
  3. Snuggle down and read, with bookshelves/book baskets to store the many books you’ll end up getting!
  4. Play board games.
  5. Listen to audiobooks (either whilst lazing on a sofa or drawing/ colouring as they get whisked away to another world).
  6. Watch documentaries.
  7. And last but by no means least, a space for imaginative play.

This could all be in the same room, or spread across the house. Here’s how it works for us.

A space for writing, reading & listening to audiobooks together:

The majority of their more structured learning happens in our living room. Their two desks are tucked into different corners of the room (as far away from each other as possible as Bean7 has a need to sing/hum while he works, which Bean9 finds quite distracting!), with all their workbooks in their drawers. We’re lucky enough to have a whole wall of bookshelves in this room to accommodate our book obsession, and our morning basket is tucked down next to the sofa, on which we cuddle up to read together/practise Spanish/memorise poems etc. Here is a tour of our room (apologies for the amateur video!):

If you’re interested, here are the links to the desk pieces:

 

A space for arts, crafts & science activities:

In addition to this, we have a separate room, which we call the craft room, set up for arts, crafts and science activities: the messy room! The floor desperately needs replacing (there’s a lovely oil stain in the middle where MrJ tried to fix the wood splitter!), but there’s seriously no point until they’re much older. The table – an old hand me down from their great grandmother – is covered in paint, but is extremely well used and so much loved 🙂

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We’ve had this room set up in this way, with the art materials laid out on the shelves and accessible to all, ever since they were little (although then I’d keep the glitter up high and out of the way…). They’ve spent so much time in here over the years, writing on the windows with the special markers, painting, drawing, designing and creating at their own pace, following their own interests and desires.

There’s been many a party when I’ve come in to find numerous children crowded around the table surrounded by piles of cut up paper, pens and paint, sitting side by side, completely contented for hours at a time.

Here’s Bean9 to give you a tour (again sorry for my amateur video skills!):

 

We use the world map in this room to keep a track of all the countries we’ve visited, with a different coloured stick for each family member: blue for MrJ, red for me, yellow for Bean9 and green for Bean7. They love adding their stickers to the map whenever we return from new countries and hopefully it’s aiding their geographical knowledge at the same time!

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Our All About Spelling lessons are also done in this room. I painted a section of the wall with magnetic paint as a space to hold all the letter tiles for the All About Spelling program:

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A space for reading:

We’ve created numerous reading nooks and crannies throughout the house aside from the one in the living room mentioned above.

There’s a cosy spot next to the kitchen with a sofa and window seat, alongside a basket of picture books which I rotate every few months:

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This is also nearby the kitchen table, at which they often read whilst having their lunch in the week. Bean9 was given this excellent book rest for her birthday, which has been one of her most used presents:

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We keep the majority of our picture books upstairs in one of the bedrooms we converted into a playroom. We’ve collected many of these over the years: they refuse to part with any of them, no matter how simple! Although they normally read chapter books now, I regularly find them having made a little nest for themselves somewhere, completely surrounded by a pile of picture books:

And finally, they have another small selection of books in their bedrooms.

A space for board games and documentaries:

We’re big fans of board games in this house and keep them stored in a cupboard next to a large coffee table in the family room, with the single player games and jigsaws in a separate side cupboard:

Documentaries also feature heavily in our homeschool life. I keep our current ones in a little basket by the TV:

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A space for imaginative play:

Whilst this happens everywhere, both inside and out, we’ve converted one of the bedrooms upstairs into a playroom for the majority of their toys (aside from all Bean9’s Sylvanians which she keeps up in her room):

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Happy organising! xxx

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