I am so astonished at your kind responses to my recent post, A Detailed Look Through the Learning Spaces. Thank you all so much for reading that long post…and for leaving such heart-warming comments.
Many of you had questions you left me, and some of you commented about some things I wanted to clarify. To answer, I thought I’d just leave you a post…
So…with an eye towards reality…let me try to answer your questions:
Angel writes…I just have one question… where did you get the calendar on your supply cabinet, or did you make it? (You may have posted something about your calendar in the past and I am just drawing a blank.)
Angela – the calendar on my storage cabinet was hand sewn by one of the teen girls in our homeschool group several years ago. It’s easy to make. First, you would need to print up the cards (dates, Feast days of the year, short prayers, liturgical season) on cardstock and measure them. The wall pockets are made from a sturdy cotton twill. It’s a lot of straight sewing. It is wonderful for the children to keep up with the date and liturgical time of year! There are 3 D-rings sewn on the top for hanging. The children update the calendar daily. If anyone is interested leave a comment and I’ll do an up close and detailed post on the calendar.
Knights’Mama writes…One quick question – is the room limited to homeschool stuff only? Where do your children keep their other toys?
Our toys live in the children’s rooms. That is not to say that an occassional lego man or American Girl doll doesn’t migrate downstairs occassionally…ok…often, but we have a routine for making sure upstairs toys get back upstairs. I call it the quick tidy. More on that below…
Lucy writes…I feel that, within our own limitations – I suspect our home and budget are both much tinier than yours – I need to try and make home ed a more beautiful and inspiring option for us. You have very blessed children to have such creative and motivated parents sharing such a gorgeous learning environment with them.
You know, I should have mentioned that these pictures and the materials you see in them from the art supplies to the table, chairs, copier, and cabinet are the result of collecting a little at a time for the last 10 – 12 years. We’ve been at this homeschooling thing in earnest for 10 years now. I knew from the moment our little Sweet Pea came along that this is the direction we were headed though, and I’ve been collecting and gathering some resources since that time. Rob and I decided and agreed early on that we would err on the side of generosity when it came to investing in the children’s education. And we do, as often as we are able and within our means. Not everything you see in my learning room posts are necessary for a full and complete education, but everything you see represents materials we’ve discerned or discovered would assist us in valuable ways on this journey.
We’ve added to our collection in two ways – the little at a time approach and the bulk summer buy approach. Large purchases, like our picture book library cart and our geography cabinet, are made over the summer with the large allowance Rob gives me for school for the year. Smaller purchases come out of my weekly spending allowance.
When it comes to small spaces and small budgets my advice is to stick with high-quality, one time purchases of materials that are in and of themselves things of beauty. Quality art supply materials come to mind here. I’ve bought inexpensive art materials before…only to find that they don’t express colors vividly, don’t offer quality in the experience of using them, and often cause more frustration in their use than joy in the experience. This isn’t always the case, but the more we experienced a quality pen or watercolor pencil, the more we appreciated the great beauty and richness of experience in using a material of quality. And, I’ll admit to having a bit of a weak spot for art supplies…some girls have shoe collections…I have watercolor pencils. 🙂
Tracy writes…Question (for future house hunting) what are the dimensions of your room?
Our learning room is supposed to be the dining room of the house. The room dimensions are 15 x 13 feet. It is a very open room…which is good and bad. Openness equals less walls for shelves and organizing…although the open feel is very warm and inviting and sunny.
Charlotte writes…I really love the shoe divider storage. Was it hard to remove one of the sections?
No, it really wasn’t. The grids just interlock together and slide in and out of place. I simply took one entire divider section and just slid it right out removing that horizontal divider so that taller books could fit within those sections. It has been a good solution.
And finally, I’ve needed to answer a question from a post I wrote several months ago – Kinder-Play: Play Centers for the Youngest.
Andrea writes…This is a wonderful post! I love seeing how other families handle toys. Realistically, how organized do these different stations of toys stay? I only have little ones (3 girls 4 and under) and I am afraid of constant access to lots of toys due to the mess that we would have to clean up!
We live in our home. We live in these spaces. We play here, and we dump bins out in the middle of the floor! Just as I would tidy my home before you would come over for a cup of tea, I tidy before I take pictures and post them! You don’t need to see all 20 loads of laundry piled on my couch waiting to be folded. That is hardly inspiring…and it sure doesn’t inspire me! So, when you see everything looking peaceful and cheery that’s just how it would look if you came to visit…but then, the children would play and investigate and have fun, and in the evening we would tidy. The key to my homemaking is the quick tidy.
Every afternoon, usually right before Rob gets home from work, each child gets an empty laundry basket. I tell them we’re going to run through the downstairs like backwards tornadoes, picking up everything that has been deposited downstairs all day. I tell them we’re going to move quickly and get this done in just 15 minutes…start the timer…and, GO! We all sweep through swishing items that don’t belong in a room into our baskets. Once a room is picked up, we deposit items from our baskets back on shelves, in bins, and baskets. What is left is usually what belongs upstairs. All those items are deposited in the big wicker basket that lives at the bottom of the stairs. Every evening before bed, the children take up the basket from the bottom of the stairs and dump….I mean…ahem….delicately deposit all their toys, books, and dolls back in their rooms. Some days, we might do 2 or 3 quick tidy times a day, other days, we just tidy before Rob gets home. The quick tidy is the key to my spaces and the order within them. If it can’t be picked up in 15 minutes or less (the time it takes to complete a quick tidy and the sum total of my children’s attention span when it comes to cleaning) I know I have let a space get out of hand and a deep cleaning, purging, and reorganization is required.
I sure hope these answers were helpful in clarifying our learning spaces and what they really look like at any given time. Drop me another comment if you still have a question!