Last month I wrote about Homeschooling in Alaska.
The short summary is, yes, you can do it! In the article I gave some tips on how to get started.
So, you’ve decided to pursue homeschooling. Now what? Once you’ve chosen a homeschooling route; picked, ordered, and received your curriculum, and even maybe done some lesson planning… now what?
I am by no means a homeschooling guru, nonetheless, I will share some of what we do and maybe it’ll help get your homeschooling juices flowing.
A friend of mine started sharing information on her Instagram account about “Building Her Nest.” I loved reading through her posts and seeing how she transforms her spaces into learning havens for her littles. The Building Your Nest Challenge was hosted by @wilkinsonnest on Instagram. Inspired by this challenge I will break down how we homeschool into similar categories over the course of a few articles.
In this article I will cover Learning Spaces and Organization.
We’re pretty free flow with our homeschooling style. I’m all about finding what works for you in what season you’re in. We are drawn to a lot of learning through literature, activity, and projects.
- We always start our mornings in our living room (or outside if the weather is nice enough), cuddled up with pillows and blankets to be all comfy and a stack of books to read through together. We cover the gamut of topics with this time – reading for science, history, English, literature, Bible, fun books, and practice reading aloud for my first grader. We also use this time to practice anything we are memorizing (we are all working on a Bible Verse of the week), have any discussions about what we are learning or what is on their hearts or minds…sometimes finding ourselves on a magical trail of impromptu research and learning based off of a topic that was brought up by our discussions.
To create this type of learning environment all you need are some good books and a good place to sit and cuddle. Warm drinks don’t hurt either.
- Our second learning space is the kitchen counter. This is where anything messy happens! Science experiments, cooking lessons, art projects, etc. I love this time because it also gives me a chance to prep food for dinner or do the dishes.
To create this type of learning environment all you need is a flat surface and a lot of patience for littles learning through mess making!
- Our third learning space is where we get down to business – our “School Room”. This is where we crack open the workbooks and keep the majority of our school supplies. We work on Math, handwriting, geography, journaling, critical thinking, and any computer work is done here. I try and keep this space as calm as possible and not plaster the walls with all the “learning posters” as we have found we are all very sensitive to visual “clutter”. I do display some of their art and some helpful items (like a world map). But my goal in this space is that we may all still feel relaxed and enjoy our time in this space.
To create this type of learning environment all you need is a flat surface… and a few bookshelves may be nice – this space can easily be doubled with our second learning space, but we had the extra room and I enjoy not always having to clean up before dinner.
- Our fourth learning space is my absolute favorite learning space. Outside! We go outside whenever we can, even if it’s just to bring our books out into our backyard for learning. But I also run Wild and Free, Eagle River which is a local homeschool group that works to encourage families to get outside together and we try and get outside for adventures with Wild and Free as often as possible. There are numerous articles that discuss the benefit of children spending time outside for their educational as well as physical health. We go for hikes all year long, ride bikes, camp, cross-country ski, sled, and more. With every activity we are looking for ways to learn. And really, there are too many to list here.
To create this type of learning environment, all you need is the ability to go outside… and don’t take that for granted. Even during our long, cold, dark winters, we still get out. It just might not be for as long of periods of time. Just make sure you have some good gear and get out there!
Okay, this is a hard one. I like to be organized, but life just seems to always be plotting against me in this. I think my solution to this is bookshelves. Lots and lots of bookshelves (can you hear the slight hint of desperation in my words there?). Each child has a couple of shelves for their schoolbooks and supplies. And I take up a lot more. Okay, let’s just admit it. I’m not very good at this part.
Either way, here’s what I do. I buy a calendar with just the month and days and lines (no year – no “helpful” boxes or pages, etc.). In this calendar I write, daily, everything we do, short and sweet. For example, one day may look like this:
- Bible: Story / Journal / Memory Verse – L&C
- Science: How Come book / Building Blocks – L&C
- History: Living Long Ago book / Story of the World – L&C
- English: First Language Lessons / Spelling You See / Italic Handwriting – L&C
- Art: Guitar – L
- PE: Rock Climbing – C
I may make any other notes of importance; like, “Quarterly Progress Report turned in”.
I also take pictures ALL the time and post them to Facebook in a “Homeschooling 20XX – 20XX” album so I can easily refer to the pics, captions, and date from anywhere easily.
As my girls finish a workbook, I have a special shelf it goes on and I keep it for as long as I can. Other important papers go in a file. On the computer I keep a copy of each quarterly progress report I turn in and a folder labeled “work samples” for easy filling out of the next quarterly progress report.
Other than that, I wing it. This means that sometimes I open our science book and find that our project needs items I don’t have on hand, so that project gets delayed… but, I’m okay with that.
If you are looking for inspiration and ideas for how to stay organized, there are many great accounts you can follow on Instagram, many a great share on Pinterest, and a plethora of other local homeschool moms (and dads) to connect with for inspiration. Hopefully this will give you some place to start, even if it’s just to laugh (with me) at my silly attempt at being organized.