Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New School Room

In our five years of homeschooling, we have worked in 3 different school rooms and this year we're moving to a fourth!  When we first moved to this house, I thought the dance studio the previous owners added to the back of the house was going to be perfect for school.  Unfortunately, the fact that that room is not tied in to the central heat and a/c got in the way.  We tend to take more breaks when the weather is good and work ahead on school during times we'd be staying inside anyway.  So last year, we found ourselves carting all the books inside to the dining room table on a regular basis so that we weren't freezing or burning up. 

This year, we decided to make a small living area we mostly used for holidays and playing into a school room.  Here's the finished result!
Just outside the room is a shelf with Secora's activities.  I think this is actually going to work better than last year's set-up because she has fewer options at one time and they are all immediately visible.  Secora is 3 years old, with a birthday coming up soon.  That means with our local school cut-offs, she should be pre-K next year and Kindergarten the year after that.  She happily works on these activities for two hours straight while we do school and keeps asking me to tell her letter sounds though, so I might end up starting pre-K with her this year, I haven't decided yet.  The main difference about making it official would be getting All About Reading's pre-reading program for her, then we'd play it by ear to see if she's ready for kindergarten next year or not. 
Yes, this shelf is tied at the top so she can't accidentally pull it over on herself.  I will switch these activities out over time, but here is what she's starting with starting at the top left: A bowl of blocks with different shapes and colors; colored pom-poms to match to the containers, there are tweezers to pick up the pom-poms so fine motor work is included too; matching the animal figurine to the animal picture; pattern cards along with colored blocks; painting tray with the papers switched out for different letters periodically; sponge cubes in water with a garlic press to squeeze the water out of them (fine motor strength); blank papers and a marker to draw and write; sticks in a styrofoam block with beads to put on the sticks.
Inside the room, the big girls have access to two shelves full of free read books. 
I even sorted them by topic and labeled the shelves so they can more easily find what they're looking for.
In the corner, there's the couch/reading corner for when it's still school time, but they're done with their assigned work
On one wall they have their AAR/AAS sticker charts and the chores they need to do that day
On the other wall is the schedule.  GASP, we have a real schedule.  I hate schedules.  I'm alright with routine, but a specific schedule drives me bonkers.  We're trying the schedule though.  Sedona has been seeing a therapist to work on her attention and self-control and to help us figure out if she's dealing with ADHD or some general learning disability or just "an abundance of Tigger-ness". Ms. therapist has helped Sedona make a lot of progress and helped me understand how best to handle her, so when she said she really thought the whole family would be a lot happier if Sedona was on a schedule, I figured it was worth trying.  At the top, we have our daily schedule.  A bonus is that the kids have a visual reminder of how much of the day involves free time for them, they really don't have a leg to stand on when they try to complain that they do school ALL THE TIME. 

Under the schedule is a weekly board for each girl showing what she needs to accomplish each day.
In the other corner is my desk, where we sit for one-on-one work.  The bookshelf with all the current books and worksheets is within reach so I don't have to keep interrupting the lesson to get up and get things.  A monthly calendar shows the girls what to expect activity-wise.
Back at the front of the room are two desks for them to sit at for individual work, the printer, another bookshelf of workbooks and a filing cabinet full of different types of paper.  My stop sign at the door way reminds them to put away anything they got out and to not take anything out of the school room without permission.
Everyone was excited to get started on the first day (those are Secora's sensory bins on the floor) and so far they're really liking the organization and very clear expectations. 
Every year we end up changing some things about our school set-up, which I think is a good thing.  One of the biggest benefits of homeschool is the ability to adapt however you need to in order to meet everyone's needs.  I think this year is going to be a good year!

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