My office (technically a formal living room, but this family is not formal) is home to all of our school supplies, books, binders, games, craft supplies and files. When granted free access to the office, my children act like caged monkeys at the zoo. They pull art supplies out, drop books on the floor, toss game pieces and scatter yarn with rampant abandon. In short the poop flies. At the moment they can’t get in that room without getting the key from me. They are not allowed to remove anything from that room unless they have picked up and put away three items.
What’s that Cookie Monster? You say you need some notebook paper? Go on in the office and shelve three books, then you can have your paper. Mwahahaha.
Pssst…this tactic is working.
However, we need relaxed access to the necessary supplies for the current school year. Thus I have placed most of the books and materials we will need this school year on one book shelf in our entryway. The theory is that it will stay neater if I have no choice but to walk past it many times a day.
The boxes at the very top are Ducky’s daily activity boxes. They are 9 litre Really Useful Boxes and I labeled them by day using paint markers. Ducky is only allowed to use the boxes during school time and I will swap out the contents once a month to keep things interesting. Options include Playdoh, stickers, Little People, baby dolls, finger paint, Duplos, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Matchbox cars, tea set, My Little Pony, yarn, pipe cleaners, and paper dolls. I could fill one with water or rice and let her play in the kitchen or on the back deck with it. I could fill one with rags and a Cinderella costume and let her “clean” the foyer. Ducky plays with her box on a quilt to give her a designated play space and to keep her from spreading out so much she can’t easily clean up after herself.
The top shelf holds our microscope, science kit and binders. There is one binder for the younger classes and two for Polar Bear, to hold Instructor Guides and schedules. I have one Working Binder which contains the schedules, instruction pages, copy work, and such that I need for one week of work for all three classes. Polar Bear has his working binder for his instruction pages, schedules and such. These binders allow us to take school on the road if we need to.
The next two shelves hold all the books for the year. Polar Bear’s books take up the entire lower shelf. The other shelf is all the books for the other two classes. It’s a good thing we love books.
In the lower cabinet, the top shelf has one Ducky box, markers, crayons, pencils, and colored pencils.
The middle shelf holds the work baskets. These hold the kids’ work books, dry erase boards and notebooks. I used yarn and a craft needle to “embroider” a child’s initial on each of these Ikea magazine file boxes. That embroidering allows me to identify each child’s box at a glance.
The bottom shelf has a magazine file box for each child to hold their “free time” projects in. My children are always drawing, coloring, or crafting with paper. These boxes help keep the mess contained. When they exceed the capacity of their box, they have to clear it out, but they can hang their favorite items in their room on these memory boards a friend made a few years ago.
I found a cloth shower curtain that looks great in my living room. I plan to cut it in half and use it to cover the top half of our “School Shelves” so they are less obtrusive. However, I thought embroidering initials on mesh magazine boxes was more than enough Martha Stewarting for one month. Or perhaps the truth is that I can’t even get to my craft desk to clear off the mess on it and so I can’t use my sewing machine or serger.
I have other items that facilitate a learning lifestyle placed around the house. For instance, there is a big white board in my living room, an easy-to-read calendar in my kitchen, and pleasure reading books at all reading levels easily accessible throughout the house. I have placemats that cover a gamut of topics from US presidents to colors and shapes. I also have an analog clock in each of my “school” rooms to help with math. Not only does it reinforce time-telling skills, it is a handy cheat sheet for remembering what numbers look like and some of my children have found ways to use a clock to help them skip count, add, subtract and multiply. It sure looks nicer to have a clock in each room than it does to put up posters of the numbers 1-100. Now, if only I could find a clever and classy way to put up the alphabet in my kitchen or living room.
That, my friends, is how our home school rolls.