Monday, January 13, 2014

Day Thirteen: Create An Atmosphere

Atmosphere: a surrounding or pervading mood, environment, or influence.
We have a lovely little area for our school room. I'm going to share photos below of it all organized and tidy, but I want you to know, it doesn't always look like this. Homeschooling is messy and it invades every area of your home, even if you've tried to contain it to one place :)

When I looked up the definition of atmosphere, I felt that it was very true in both a positive and negative way. Our clutter of emotions can be just as detrimental to the atmosphere of our school as the environment. I make this statement because you may surf Pinterest or other sites to find perfectly designed learning spaces but if your family is not abiding cohesively, no amount of decorating will change that. I have been caught up in this "search" in the past and the Lord showed me that my discontentment with our room was related more to my lack in creating a God-honouring beginning to our day. As the mom, I set the tone for the whole family because I am blessed to wake up and not have to run off to work outside the home at this point in my life. Our school room atmosphere, both physical and emotional, creates a place of learning that is either positive and progressive or negative and stagnant. The latter brings much stress to all involved. And so, this momma prays each day for the help to keep things orderly and calm and the grace to begin again when it's become a whirlwind of emotions or messiness.
We created this little area in our basement.
Here is our supply shelf.

Just clear plastic shoeboxes with labels. 

 Our chalkboard, calendar easel and art wall (that white door is a little bathroom we installed in the past year).

 At the top of the wall, we have a timeline of Bible story pictures and the arrow represents which one we're learning about.
 Each of the three youngest has a bin with their own readers for the year. They are read and replaced as time goes on.
 Each child has their own larger bin for their schoolwork. These normally sit at their feet on the floor as they work through their books in the morning.
 Just across the room is this little space we love for reading.
 Our bookshelf. Yes, I have a thing for books!
If you don't have a lot of wall space or you just don't like a lot of stuff on your walls, the mini-office is perfect for a hundred chart or spelling reminders (different for each child). You can download some here and here. If your child is older, simply print out reminders of areas in which they struggle, or concepts that are new, for example, spelling rules or periodic table.
 It sits on the table in front of them. It can even block out the student across from them if they are a distraction :)
The posters and things on the walls change over time. I used to have a one hundred chart but they mastered that so I took it down. Right now, we are focusing on the Scientific Method. I find there's no need to plaster the walls with every great poster as I used to do (again, unnecessarily trying to recreate my classroom when I taught in traditional schools). The kids don't notice them after awhile anyway. Things have to stay fresh. Having said that, my calendar might be a month behind because we've been schooling in the kitchen simply because we need the beautiful sunshine for a change!
If you only have a kitchen table to home educate, you're in business! Take a look around your home for where you can store bins for your children's work. Truly, you don't need all the fancy stuff. If you use mini-offices or something similar, you also don't need to hang anything up! Use the library, download free curricula and borrow from other homeschoolers. It's quite doable on a budget. Sometimes the amount of books I own, not to mention the various types of curricula can be a detriment to staying focused on one thing at a time. Much of our reading takes place on the couch and we are certainly proof that when the weather is balmy, the great outdoors is our classroom! Creating an atmosphere of peace and joyful learning through environment, however large or small, and happy attitudes is key!
I could probably write on the subject of homeschooling for longer than 31 days but I don't want to ramble. I know there are readers who don't normally comment and that's okay, but I thought I'd ask you to venture out and let me know if there's anything you desire to know about homeschooling or anything related. Please feel free to comment about interesting sites or ideas you've found yourself in relation to educating our kiddos! Everyone will benefit :)


jeana said...

I LOVE your room! I don't think I've seen it before. I love your wisdom on creating a God honoring atmosphere. I'd love to learn in your home!

Heather said...

Thanks, Jeana. It wasn't quite God-honouring early this morning but praise Him, He forgives and we move forward. By lunchtime, things were much smoother, hearts were connected again and much work was accomplished. I like people to know that, because writing about your ideals doesn't always match your everyday life. I never want to write things people feel they can't live up to. My posts are all what we set out to accomplish with God's help! :)

Anna said...

Your room looks awesome! However, where are all of your French things??

Heather said...

Oh, Anna! I really should put them back up. Thanks for the reminder.

Rebecca said...

Hi Heather!

I have been reading your blog for several years now (and I think you used to read mine as well but it's closed for the present). :)

Thank you so much for these homeschooling posts. I was married in May of 2013 and have moved to Zambia where my husband is a dairy farmer. Within a month of being here, I was full-time homeschooling my nieces (an unexpected but very welcome duty). I have my degree in Elementary Education so I was absolutely thrilled to put it to use.

Thank you so much for your insight. I have appreciated and enjoyed every single post! Your sweet spirit continually permeates your blog...another reason why I'm a long-time reader.

Take care!

Heather said...

Rebecca! Praise God! I was looking for your blog just last night. So glad you commented. I wish you had left your email address. If you do, I won't post it. I'd love to hear all about your new adventures. I'm so thankful you're married now and enjoying homeschooling your nieces! xo