For the last year and a half, I have been homeschooling the children throughout the day in our dining room, living room & yard. It has gone pretty well, all things considered, but the lines between household & homeschool have become somewhat blurred, so I am very excited about the changes which occurred in our house this month. Let me explain.
We own a ranch style home, which has a walk-out basement. Half of which consists of an apartment, and the other half my husband's office, a storage area, a large family-type room and a bathroom. Until just a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law had rights to the apartment (though she lived in another state to care for her ailing father-in-law) and my brother-in-law lived in the family room which had been converted into a bedroom & office for him. Well, after Christmas we moved Benjamin into the apartment and suddenly the other room has become available. Naturally my first thought was: can we convert the space into a schoolroom? :-)
I am happy to report that we have begun the process of doing just that, and we had our first day of "doing school" downstairs on Friday. The entire day was fantastic! And these are my immediate observations about having a separate place to school:
1. It has given me remarkable clarity. I'm the kind of person who has a hard time focusing on what is at hand if other unfinished things are around me. For example, if I have set the children down to do their math worksheets, the laundry on the couch beckons me and the smudged windows call out to me "wash me!" It's all very distracting for one of my particular make-up, and often the children are waiting on me. When I am downstairs, it is all out of my sight, and hence, out of my mind. :-)
2. I am so much more organized! My homeschool books had begun to "invade" my household space. It was kind of embarrassing at Christmas when we had family over and there wasn't room in the pantry for snacks because of my homeschool notebooks. I'm not finished yet, but it will be so nice to have everything cleared out, in it's own place downstairs. Also, it is harder to keep track of each person's activity when they are in separate rooms.
3. It is easier to focus on discerning my children's hearts (#1 really). This kind of goes along with other things which are happening in my heart and home, but this has become so important to me. I have realized that motivation is so much more important that outward actions. And my kids are just a little distracted (I wonder why?) and need extra focus from mom to get them back on the right path. Spanking is not always the right answer, and can sometimes cause alienation from God instead of restoration.
These are my initial observations about our new schoolroom. Right now, our schedule is pretty simple:
7:30 Kids wake-up, dress and practice piano while I make breakfast with my 3-year old on the step stool and my baby attached to my front
8:00 Eat breakfast while working on scripture memory verses; read Proverb of the day
8:30 Breakfast chores & make lunch (to be brought downstairs in my WONDERFUL picnic basket - complements of my generous husband ala Christmas). If we don't get done with everything, it's ok :-). Here I have to give myself permission. Actually it has been my wise husband all along who has told me that the cleaning is not important - the children are important.
9:00 Start school! The start time is flexible and the entire schedule is divided into time "blocks" so that I don't become discouraged if we are not "keeping up" with the clock. I'll share the school schedule another day.
2:00-3:00 Afternoon chores, fixing dinner, generally catching-up with household duties. The children know they may play when they are finished with their responsibilities.
I am well aware that all families do not have the luxury of having a separate homeschool room, and I don't believe everyone needs one. But it sure is a blessing for our family and I am so very thankful to the Lord :-).