Thursday, November 29, 2007

Part 2: Stealing Space

From its humble beginnings as a garage, my family's school room took shape. In an earlier post, I shared photos of the what we moved in to in late August of 2006--a 9x11 room with unfinished walls, lined with books, a wicker couch and my children's let's-pretend-we're-in-school desks.

A lot of people asked me if being in that unfinished room bugged me. Truthfully, no. Moving in and actually doing school in the space before it was completed gave me the unique opportunity to finish the room according to how we used the space--not how I thought we would use the space.

Case in point: my plan had been to add a hinged table-top to one wall. The table, when set up, would act as a community workspace, and could be lowered for times when we needed the floor space. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, in my mind's eye, it would have been. But what wasn't taken into account in that plan was how strong my children's affinity for those desks they occupy actually is. (Can you tell that desks are a bit of a homeschooling killjoy for me?) My children adore their desks. They love their own individual little work areas. And the idea of a group table is absolutely repugnant to them. Really.

I also hadn't foreseen the need for as much extra light as we ended up using. Having no windows, our school room can get mighty dark. A friend swapped out the old hanging lightbulb that had been the only light source, installing a wonderful, large fixture that made the whole place glow. But as it turned out, we like to switch on our
ambient floor lamp, too. :-)

Here are Jo and Logan's desks today:

Another thing I thought would be vital is the white board you see hanging here above our little art shelf. It is used probably twice a week--and usually not by me. Atticus
likes to practice his Greek vocabulary on it, and Logan gets a kick out of spelling new words where he can wipe them away easily. Good thing I didn't break the bank for it. :-) (The tall boxes you see there are Ikea shelves waiting to be put up, by the way.)

Another adaptation was putting up a timeline on our longest wall. You can't see it in detail here, but running above and below the posters on the bottom is a timeline wide enough for the children to write on. The posters are relevant to our current studies, and are placed above the corresponding date on the timeline. (That's Logan's famous easel below it!)

Another shot of the timeline, this one farther to the left, showing Atticus' desk. The bookshelf there holds our Bible resources, foreign language books and Language Arts.

Below is the last unpainted area of the schoolroom. (You may have noticed that lovely shade of creamy yellow that finally went up in these newer shots!) Why is this area unfinished? No good reason, but I promise you, it will be painted soon. Anyhow, these two shelves hold our current SL Core (4), math, science and general reference materials.

Had I not used the room for a full year prior to finishing it, I would have missed out on how to fit the room to our needs rather than how to fit us into that room. Would it have been the end of the world? Certainly not. But it would have forced my children to conform to my idea of what homeschooling is, and frankly, I'm not about that. So desks it is. :-)

Another interesting side note to the schoolroom was the ways that the room wasn't used. I had never envisioned utilizing the room all day long, and I wasn't disappointed. Plenty of reading and other activities were still centered in the main section of the house, with the school room acting as our organization point for "seat work" and the main home for our burgeoning
resources. Because of this, I relocated the wicker couch and brought in a rocking chair for myself to pull alongside the child who needed me rather than having them come to me.

I also quickly came to see that during the time we were in the school room, Logan often wasn't. Still a preschooler, Logan preferred to spend the bulk of his time at his easel just outside the schoolroom door. When he wasn't painting, he was often building elaborate works of architecture with the over sized blocks of pine his dad had cut from the remaining pieces of framing wood. These activities all took place in the chill of the drab garage. He didn't seem to mind, but I did. He was being left out of what was going on with his siblings, and isolated from me. This was the last thing that I wanted. When we got closer to finishing our adoption paperwork and that whole idea became more real to me, I saw what a disadvantage our little schoolroom was; anyone not engaged in the business of school was decidedly left out. Not catastrophic for a 4 year-old who likes to entertain himself in worthwhile endeavors, but a horrible idea for a woman looking at adding a toddler and infant to her brood.

After talking with my husband, we agreed to extend our plan. Which leads us to the next phase of the 400 square foot project ...


Dawn said...

I love your schoolroom. It makes me want to "steal some space". Hmmm...maybe our unfinished basement? I'm so inspired right now.

danellejoy said...

Is that the Love to Learn "Learn the World" globe in your classroom? Is so, do you like it? Was it worth the money?

Katherine said...

Fellow (sister? :-)) Core 4 Sonlighter, here. Again, love seeing your space. Thanks for sharing it. I'm enjoying your posts. I'm at www.restorationplace.

~ Angi :) said...

oh. mygosh.

An add on? To that luxury?? {awe}

How fantastic!

[angi, who returned to pick up where she left off yesterday . . .]

Mary Grace said...


The globe is a yard sale find. I paid $2 for it. And no, it's nothing special. It's just one of those little inflatable deals. But I *did* get it at a yard sale ... so I used dh's soccer ball pump to blow it up! :-)