May 19, 2012

What Does Our Home School Look Like

Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

What does our home school look like?

I am assuming you are not referring to our physical school.  But just in case, here it goes.  Allen converted the garage into a gorgeous school room the first summer we lived in this house.  Oh, I loved it.  But five summers ago we began remodeling our basement.  Allen's office moved into the school room for the summer.  He's still there.  I miss my beautiful room.  But we have a very nice situation now.  

We started out that fall schooling at the kitchen table.  Which was right next to the school room.  It made sense at the time because there was no where else.  And because all our materials were in the school room.  What didn't work out so well, is that my husband spends  alot of time on the phone for his job.  And let's face it, even being as quiet as we can, five kids doing school and a preschooler running around can be very disruptive.  I actually bought him noise cancelling headphones to try to cut down on the distraction.  But that did not help when he was on the phone.  Sometimes, I would be looking for him and he would be in the closet carrying on a conference call.

Another big disadvantage is we only have one table in our house.  So when meal time came around we had to clear everything away.  It would take so much time to put everything away and bring it all back out again that sometimes I would just call it quits for the day.  

We heat our house with a wood stove and on many winter days we would drag our work down to the basement and sit by the wood stove while we schooled.  We had just concrete floors and the only lights were industrial work lamps but still we found it so cozy.  When Christmas rolled around we set up a Christmas tree down there which we left up until May.  Finally we decided to make it a permanent arrangement and set up two folding tables to work at.  
Besides the coziness of the wood stove, there are several huge advantages to doing school down here. There is a playroom where the little ones can occupy themselves.  There is a music room so children can practice their instruments and we can enjoy their progress.  There is the laundry room so we can keep up with the washing between lessons.  And you might be able to see the couch in the family room.  That really came in handy when I was suffering from morning sickness and when someone is ill.  They can lie down to rest right there with all of us and we can keep an eye on the ailing while we continue our work.  I miss my school room, but I can't really think of a better set up for schooling.  

The one inconvenience is the only place to store our materials is still upstairs in the school room.  I have used several methods over the last three or four school years   to organize our materials, minimize the mess and lessen the interruptions to Allen's work with repeated trips through the school room.

Last fall I purchased each child a crate at Walmart.  They keep the books we are currently working in and their pencil box with whatever supplies they might need in their crate.  At the end of the day they just pack it all up and stack it away.  This has been an excellent option for us.  We can haul work wherever we need it and it is always neat and tidy.  

Each child also has a shelf in the school room where we store other materials they are using for the school year but not necessarily using at this time.  

One other important piece of furniture is our magnetic dry erase board.  This is a portable easel on wheels.  It has two boards so children can work on both sides, a great storage space below for our manipulatives and best of all it folds flat and rolls away when not in use.  Although, we typically put it in the playroom when it isn't used for school because the kiddos just think it is so much fun.  I bought this from a preschool that was going out of business several years ago and I think it is one of the best purchases we have made for school.
For the time being, that is what our school looks like.

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