Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
A successful homeschooling experience looks like having a space for your learning and your playing to take place. Consider the design of a classroom, library, or museum. The design incorporates beauty, sparks creativity, encourages critical thinking, and ideally, makes a person want to be and learn there. These are the same elements of a learning experience that you also want to bring into your homeschool. I’ve spoken before in previous posts about independence in learning and facilitation of exploration. When you are considering where your homeschooling will primarily take place, these are things that you want to consider–having places for the children to access their materials, while also maintaining adult-only spaces where you can store your materials that are not currently in use. For us, this looks like a dedicated space in the basement for rotation of toys and learning materials, which I have organized into separate boxes and created a spreadsheet for what items are available.
Alhumdulilah, we have truly been blessed with the space to create different areas in our home that are dedicated to a multitude of objectives in the learning process. In our current design, I have utilized a few different “zones” that I learned about from a parenting program that I have been taking. For us, that looks like: a space for imaginative play, gross motor acquisition, sensory experiences, library, and focus area. While we do have a room that is dedicated to play and learning, I have also reimagined other areas of our home also serve this function and facilitate these goals as well. For example: we do circle time in our living room, display art projects in our dining room, and have our daily flow posted for the children to see and follow in the kitchen. Our dining room table serves as a “desk” for our subject area content and projects. The sensory table also lives in the dining room during colder months for easy clean up. There are a couple of shelves in the kitchen that are dedicated to art supplies and learning activities that I set up and set out on the dining table for the children to work on throughout the day.
Our focus area for dedicated learning is the dining table, where I utilize trays to bring out manipulatives and materials for language, mathematics, Islamic Studies, and sensory projects. These materials include: puzzles, games, laminated writing pages, wooden letters, practice tracing boards, and more. What’s nice about having the focus area be in the dining room is that I can be preparing meals in the kitchen and have quick access and visibility since the two rooms are connected. Similarly, because I store some materials for new lessons in the kitchen, it makes it easy for me to set up a few trays with different tasks on them and allow my children to filter them through them once they feel ready to move on to the next activity. Utilizing a portable, lap desk has given my daughter more freedom to take her activities into the living room or outside with ease. Clipboards are also our best friends in outside learning, as well as trays.
The point here is to make your space work for you and to think creatively about how to set up your space so that the children can navigate it independently and you can feel comfortable about them having a dedicated space for learning!