A homeschool space setup is an integral part of home education. How do we create a space for learning that is inviting, clutter-free, practical, budget-friendly, and efficient? Before we set up a learning environment we need to ask ourselves, what goals are we looking to achieve.
Maria Montessori designed her classroom around one fundamental concept – the learning space has to enable the child to fulfill the desire to work independently and facilitate freedom of movement. It is through autonomy children discover their passion, identity, and develop the ability to focus and concentrate. Hence I believe we need to strive to have a holistic approach when we think of a functional and effective homeschool setup.
In Maria Montessori’s words:
… the environment is fundamental; it must facilitate the expansion of the being in process of development by a reduction of obstacles to a minimum, and must allow free scope for a child’s energies, by offering the necessary means for the activities to which they give rise. Now the adult himself is part of the child’s environment; the adult must adjust himself to the child’s needs if he is not to be a hindrance to him and if he is not to substitute himself for the child in the activities essential to growth and development.
The child whose attention has once been held by a chosen object, while he concentrates his whole self on the repetition of the exercise, is a delivered soul in the sense of the spiritual safety of which we speak. From this moment there is no need to worry about him – except to prepare an environment which satisfies his needs, and to remove obstacles which may bar his way to perfection.
These sensitive periods are of great importance and education must facilitate this opportunity which is inherent in the child. Education must prepare an environment that will aid the development of life.
The child realises that through his own efforts he can be independent and achieve things he has set his mind to. And gradually we educators are confronted with a simple but important fact: that to help the child is not what he needs, and indeed that to give help is an impediment for the child. Therefore he must be allowed to act freely on his own initiative in this free environment.
If the child is allowed to use his spontaneous activity in a tranquil environment without interference or unasked for help, he is indeed engaged in a most important work: he is building the man he will one day be.
The characteristic of children under 6 years of age is that it is almost impossible to teach them; children of this age cannot take from a teacher. Therefore they are considered to be too young to go to school and therefore education does not begin until 6 years of age. Another characteristic of this age is that the children know and understand a great deal. They are full of knowledge. This would seem to be a contradiction, but the truth is that these children must take knowledge by themselves from the environment.
What if this child knows nothing of the end he will achieve? If he is allowed to use his spontaneous activity in a tranquil environment without interference or unasked-for help, he is indeed engaged in a most important work: he is building the [person] he will one day be.
I know it is a lot to process and might seem overwhelming. So what the prepared homeschool environment might look like in practice? For some, it might mean replicating the Montessori classroom with all the materials. For others, it could be a farm backyard with animals, a veggie garden, and muddy puddles. For someone else, it could be a corner or secluded space in an apartment of a mult-storey building.
We cannot limit and create a cookie-cutter idea of an ideal homeschool environment. Every family is capable of creating a learning space for their child that fosters child-driven learning and hands-on exploration based on its unique circumstances.
In this post, I will share certain aspects of our homeschool environment and what I consider to be essential for my children’s everyday learning. As our family grew and circumstances changed, so did children’s learning spaces.
These are the main principles I follow when setting up homeschooling ROOM for my children:
Clutter-free environment. Our space for home education contains a shelf with children’s work, materials, toys for open-ended play, printables, and hands-on explorations. When I had one child, I constantly rotated toys. With three children I find I can have most of our toys available at all times. With time, children become more aware of their environment and our family standards when it comes to taking care of our belongings. Older children are capable of modeling it to their younger siblings.
Every child has his or her working space that is set up according to the child’s age and needs. The oldest child works in her own independent space.
The six-year-old and four-year-old siblings share their workspace. As I mentioned earlier, it consists of a low shelving unit with children’s work – Montessori materials and printed cards for hands-on learning that I update regularly – generally on daily basis.
Attractive spaces. Living in an environment of beauty or aesthetically pleasing environment is not only beneficial for their learning process but also for a positive mental state of being.
Functional space. I aim to keep my supply storage nearby as I like to follow children’s pursuits. For example, I have a needle for sewing at hand if the child decides to sew a picture of the flower he or she just observed.
Children’s work and art display. Children take pride in their achievements and hard work. There is always a space available where we display their completed work.
Pet care. Generally, as a rule, children have some form of living thing they take responsibility for. Either it is a vegetable patch, a pet snail, a stick insect, or a hermit crab. They help to do research on how to keep the animal or plant alive and learn as much as possible about all its needs. They are responsible to take care of it daily.
Display with natural treasures. Discovering natural spaces outdoors is a part of our weekly homeschool routine. We have a space where children can display their newly found treasures so they can examine them and build their further knowledge.
Minimal wall decor. I rotate maps, student charts that are on display. However, I always make sure we keep those at minimum.
Flowers or plants. Children enjoy arranging flowers to make their working space appear more pleasant and appealing. Once in a while, we head to shops for them to choose flowers or plants they wish to have.
Supplies. Children always need to have access to all the essentials that facilitate uninterrupted learning – adequate lighting, working space, school supplies:
- sharpened pencils,
- magnifying glass
- insect jar
- lined handwriting paper
- study books
- drawing tools – drawing pencils, crayons, pens, paints, paintbrushes, plastic cup
- glue stick
- age appropriate scissors
Children also need to have access to tools that help them maintain their environment in good condition and keep it clean. At the end of each day, they dust and vacuum their learning spaces, help sharper pencils, etc.
learning resources you might find helpful in your classroom
People Of The World Dress Up$3.50
World Continents Photo Cards Geography Folder$6.50
Animals Of The Continents Bingo$4.50
Our Amazing Human Body Parts Of The Body Cards$6.00
A to Z Emotions and Feelings – ABC Cards$3.00
Honey Bee Life Cycle | Nature Curriculum in Cards$2.50
40 World Landmarks Nomenclature Cards$3.00
Backyard Birds Safari Toob 3 Part Information Cards – Editable$3.00
Human Organs – Safari Toob 3 Part Information Cards – Editable$3.00
Rain Forest Animals (South America) – Safari Toob 3 Part Cards – Editable$2.00
Parts of a Plant Life Cycle Needs of a Plant$3.00
Dinosaurs Toy Matching 3 – Part Information Cards – Editable$4.50
Product on saleInsects and Crawling Creatures – Safari Toob 3 Part Information Cards – Editable$1.50
Traditional Costumes Around The World$3.00
Peace Around the World – Multicultural Printable$2.00
Famous Landmarks – Safari Toob 3 Part Information Cards – Editable$5.00
Christmas Themed Knobless Cylinder Extensions$2.20