Monday, November 22, 2010

Homeschooling: Show Me Your Classroom

First of all, I have to tell you... it's SNOWING! And since I survived Snowpocalypse and Snowmaggedon by myself, a few inches of the white stuff is not going to scare me. Especially since I have Jason here to shovel. And I have a shovel.

The past few days have been relatively uneventful around here (and I say relatively, because you know how crazy our house is on a daily basis.) Despite this fact, I am still trying to figure out how to rearrange our home to make life easier when homeschooling a handful of wild children. Preferably, I'd like to be able to homeschool without babies destroying the house, setting fire to furniture, or injuring the dog.

Now that we are nearing the dreaded potty training abyss, I fear that keeping up with life is just going to get a wee bit more difficult. Whatever will I do when my days are not spent changing diapers or cleaning up poop?

Anyway, I need some advice. I know some of you are experts, so please let me know what you think.
Currently, our homeschooling "classroom" is the loft upstairs. We are living in a 2 level home with a lot of space and for that we are blessed. The upper level has 4 bedrooms, a laundry room, two bathrooms, and a large, open loft area. We decided to make the loft into a playroom because it keeps the toys contained to the upstairs. But I also made the loft our classroom, thinking it would be nice to have a central area where I could keep an eye on all of the kids while teaching lessons.
The right side of the room is lined with bookshelves that hold all of our books, curriculum, games, and supplies. We have the perfect amount of wall space, but this room is completely open on one side. That low wall in the bottom of the picture is the stairwell.
Here's the view standing by the windows and looking toward the stairs. One problem here is that I can't gate off this room because of the width. I don't have any gates wide enough and I sold all of my play yard panels at the last consignment sale.

By the way, those curvy IKEA mirrors are a real hit for my little ballerinas. They dance in front of them all day long! That brings me to the second problem... the little kids want to play in here when we are doing lessons and it disturbs the big kids. Not the smartest idea to combine these two rooms. Oops!
Almost all of our toys are confined to this one wall. There's a play kitchen on the other wall, and the kids have a few toys in the bedrooms, but otherwise this is it. Often I will have the babies up here playing quietly while I'm reading with the big kids, but when the boys are doing math or handwriting, they require total silence. That is just about impossible in this house.
Downstairs we have the kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, and an extra bedroom. The extra bedroom is a guest room and Jason and I use it as an office space. It's packed with everything that we don't want the kids to touch- our computers, my sewing machine, Jason's guitars, the inventory for my store, etc. There are wall-to-wall shelves and desks.

Because I thought we were moving into a much smaller house, I left all of our living room furniture in Virginia. We have a couch in the family room, but the living room is empty. Or at least it would be if it weren't for Jason's trunks from Iraq, our old TV (my dad bought us a new TV for Christmas!) and a few stray boxes that Jason dragged in from the garage. I have thought about using this space as our classroom, but it's in the front room of the house and it's a busy area. I'm not sure the kids can concentrate there. (Not that the playroom is much better!) I'd rather not turn it into a playroom because then we'll have toys all over the lower level of the house. Right now it's free space.

I guess I'm asking for ideas about how to best utilize the space we have. What's the easiest way to homeschool around loud, active toddlers? Where do your kids do their lessons? Better yet, can you share pictures of your classroom?
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