In the coming days, children across the nation will return to school, if they haven’t already. At the same time, there will be those young learners who wake up to study in their homes. While it’s difficult to accurately calculate the number of homeschooled children in the country, a 2009 report estimated the number was close to 1.5 million.
Recently, Movoto Real Estate became interested in homeschool parents and how they prepare for the school year. Specifically, we wanted to know how parents went about creating classrooms, or learning environments in their homes.
For tips and guidance to the difficult task of making sure a child keeps abreast of his or her studies, we reached out to homeschool parents from across the country for their advice on turning a home into a schoolhouse.
To Desk or Not to Desk
It might be easy to think that designing a classroom for your children should focus solely on the students, but this is only part of the decision. Choosing a classroom is as much about philosophy as it is about learning.
There are homeschool parents who believe the world is the classroom and that traditional classroom designs don’t adequately prepare children for a lifetime of learning. Nonetheless, there are those who see the advantages of more traditional classrooms and go about creating a similar—but probably not exact—environment.
Dr. Brian Ray runs the National Home Education Research Institute. He has studied homeschooling since the mid-1980s. During a phone call with Movoto, he said one of the most important things for homeschool parents to consider when designing a learning environment is the needs of both child and parents.
If the main teacher needs structure, an in-home classroom might make teaching easier.
“The advantage of a dedicated room is efficiency,” Ray said. “A lot of times it’s easier on the children if they know where the Crayons are.”
He was quick to point out, however, that a dedicated classroom doesn’t work for all students and philosophies. In fact, bring up the idea of a dedicated classroom irks some homeschool parents, who liken dedicated rooms to prisons that sap creativity.
“If one of your objectives is to help your children to (cultivate) learning habits all the time, you usually choose the eclectic approach,” Ray said. “Some children will thrive with a dedicated writing space, others will atrophy.”
There’s no right choice, however. With more than two decades of home school study, Ray was unable to guess what type of philosophy and design are more abundant.
Make It Yours
Opinions and stories about homeschooling are plentiful. From speaking with homeschool parents, the Movoto team learned that many experiment to learn what works best for their children and family. In fact, what works at one point might change as a child grows or more young ones are added to the school environment.
Ann Severi, who is a credentialed teacher, favored learning in any circumstance. “Homeschool rooms just keep you in the room, in the house, and IN the BOX,” Severi said. “Let’s rip up that box, and leave the rooms for living, loving, and of course learning.”
Along these lines Alyssa Canann said people should think of a homeschool room as a place in which students can create any number of things.
“Think of a homeschool room as a Maker room, an art studio, a craft center, a library, a writer’s nook, a game room, a mad scientist’s lab, (and) a zoo,” she said. “Having a place to set up the potter’s wheel or microscope or rocket launcher phases 1, 2, and 44 is a wonderful convenience.”
While Canann didn’t eschew learning in other parts of the house, she said a dedicated room, or space, provides organization. The benefits of a “discovery lair” include:
- A place to start projects
- A space to store half-finished projects
More specifically Canann suggested a room have:
- A Sink
- Solid flooring
- Access to outdoors
- A door for privacy
- A chalkboard
“The room should be accessible amid the activities of everyday family life,” Canann said. “Don’t put it somewhere away from the daily flow of traffic or, in our experience, it becomes a game closet/storage room, and that beautiful worktable will soon be covered in whatever has to be shoved out of sight when company comes.”
What Not To Do
Time and again when we spoke to homeschool parents about creating a dedicated classroom, one topic rose to the top. While dedicated classrooms work for some families, they do not work for all.
Kim Sorgius said many homeschool parents have a dream of opening a dedicated learning space, but soon realize that homeschooling is a lifestyle.
“Homeschooling is life and we never live life in just one room of the house. I think that the homeschool area is often the area that is most lived in,” Sorgius said. “Usually the kitchen and/or any room that is very close by. This enables mom to chop onions while calling out spelling words. It allows her to be there, but also accomplish needed tasks.”
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