A New Homeschool Space for a New School Year
At the Dalton household, we are set to start school after Labor Day. The kids are soaking up their last days of sleeping in and wearing their PJ’s all day as we putter around the house. When people find out we homeschool, they almost always ask is if we sleep in. We do not. We still wake up fairly early (though not as early as we would if they went to school), get dressed, have morning chores, and eat breakfast together.
When we first began schooling at home, I read about the importance of unschooling when you’re transitioning a child from traditional school, so our days were much more lax than they are now. It worked for a while, but it stopped when I actually needed their attention. Over time, our days have become more and more structured, and that is what works best for us.
It’s funny what you learn you need over time. One of my biggest preparations for the year was accumulating activities for the kids to do in those times they have questions but I’m working with their sibling on something. Teaching multiple children is difficult. Sometimes, I feel like my day is spent nodding my head back and forth between the kids like a spectator at a tennis match. “Mom, can you help me with this?” “Mom! I don’t know what to do with this number!” “Mom, what’s perfunctory mean?” “Hey, Mom. Mom??? Mommmmmmmmm!”
Not to mention, each kid has a unique learning style, right? Isn’t that what homeschooling moms remind each other when we’re stressed because something that’s worked so well for Billy isn’t working for Mary? It’s kind of like running several companies. There’s so much to learn about the needs of each one—what produces growth, what stops it.
I spoke with our therapist in depth several weeks ago about what an ideal school setting would look like for kids with needs like ours. He said the most successful routines he had seen were predictable, attentive, and out of the house as much as possible. So we stay busy, and we’re planning on using more extracurricular services and activities. The kids attend occupational therapy. Some have horse riding lessons, and some take swimming, gymnastics, dance, and music lessons. One of our computers is a laptop, and we take that with us during our outings in case some lessons didn’t get finished at home.
We went back and forth about where we’d set up our space because we just moved in a month ago and the layout in this house is odd. We didn’t want to use our only living space, so we opted instead for the extra-long dining room. On one end is our dining room table and the other was an empty space the kids wanted to use for dancing/jumping/sword fighting, but alas, Mom won. Homeschool space it is!
I intentionally set up the space long before school would start, so the kids had a chance to use it as a recreational space. This way, there’s less anxiety about school. I’ve been planting seeds, so to speak, about what we can look forward to for the school year. My oldest son is excited about a terrarium project to study ecosystems for science, and my youngest daughter is beyond thrilled she will get to do school on a computer (pushing buttons is her love language). More than anything, I want our kids to associate learning with joy and exploration.
“If we can awaken,” I read in an online version of The Homiletic Review magazine from 1918, “in any man a genuine love for truth and a desire to know truth, and can send him out in the search after truth so that he begins to really think for himself and comes to you with questions and honest doubts, looking for light, rest assured whether this man has raised his hands for prayers or not, you are literally helping God in the awakening of his soul and the arousing of his mind; you have started this man on the quest for truth, which is nothing less the great quest for God, for God is truth…”
At the start of another school year, that’s a comforting reminder, isn’t it? We don’t have to do everything, teach everything, purchase everything. We simply have the privilege to awaken.
What’s your homeschool space like? We’d love to see it! Be sure to share it on social media. Tag us and use #UncommonHomeschooling