The phrase “our school room” is a bit of a misnomer because for Puppy, Lamb and Piglet (6yo, 4yo and 18mo) our school room is just about everywhere.
For seat work, however, we have a central work room – our dining. I debated between having a specific room dedicated to school (upstairs, to avoid our dining looking like a school room), but decided that keeping it downstairs near the kitchen would help me supervise all 3 kids better especially when I have to run to the kitchen periodically to take a pot off the stove or run outside to retrieve some laundry. Our upstairs also gets very hot and humid during the day, so being downstairs is so much more comfortable for everyone.
1. Seat work room
Our 6yo utilises the dining table to avoid the 18mo getting into her work. Next to the dining table we have these white kids’ tables. There’s a hard plastic IKEA cover on them to minimize scribbles on the wood.
I wish we had more natural light in our dining area but it is quite dim even in the daytime, so a lamp is necessary. Having a map permanently up makes referencing easier, I don’t have to keep whipping it out. On the table is our 4yo’s work box containing all the stuff we use daily – Early Learner workbook, numbers flashcards, phonics flash cards and blending word cards.
I sit on the middle stool with the 18mo on my left and 4yo on my right so that the wee one doesn’t get into his older sibling’s work but can still see and participate with whatever’s going on. The 18mo’s seat is also nearer the shelves so he can get off anytime to take anything he wants from them with minimal distraction to the 4yo.
Shelves are directly next to the tables so I can get up quickly to retrieve an activity while the kids’ attention span is still ongoing. With an 18mo, chaos can easily happen within a few seconds!
In the closed shelf, I store the kids’ files (containing charts and records of their work) and all books related to seat work – language arts for English, Chinese and Malay, Math, Science Kits, chalk boards, manipulatives we don’t use on that particular day (teaching colours, numbers, shapes), including teacher aids and references, as these don’t have to be kept open for the kids. If you’d like a peek into what areas we’re studying, check out this previous post on our homeschool curriculum.
The open shelf on the left is kept open to attract the kids to the material as they view them, and enable them to access all of it easily.
On it are the following:
- Right on top: See-through boxes containing markers, pencils, crayons, dry-erase markers with a sponge wipe, storage for scissors and glue, pencil sharperner (don’t want our 18mo getting into them without adult assistance – although he’s already learnt how to get a stool and access them!). See-through boxes look a bit messy I feel but it’s a good trade off because the kids don’t have to ask me where to find their things.
- 2nd level: Manipulatives and games suited for toddlers and preschoolers. (Update these to keep things fresh. To find a list of 40 activities, check out the following posts: Fun indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3) and (Part 4).
- 3rd level: Peg puzzles, other puzzles, plastic toy animals. (Just the right height for an 18mo.)
- Bottom level: Math manipulatives for all grades.
Next to the open shelf is the art corner where the kids know they can find a paper station, colouring books, doodle boards, craft materials ranging from poster paints and finger paints to chalk and oil pastels, play dough box and scrap box (waste not, want not).
On the top shelves are our adult books and stationery I don’t want little hands playing with.
Pegs for hanging art work to dry and notice board for displaying art work and little teaching notes to myself so I don’t have to scramble around with a file. School gets done on the fly often enough, so!
Another closed shelf in the dining room that stores extra art materials, kids CDs, board games, and additional activity books that are seldom used. Before we got these doors, our dining really looked like a kindergarten!
School with our 6yo tends to shift between the bedroom (where little ones nap in the afternoon and want me nearby), the kitchen and dining. I love this handy IKEA box that we can move around with.
2. Water/sand play and crafts corner
We are so blessed to have an air well next to our dining room where the kids can do messy art work, sand play, or jump into a mini pool whenever I need them off my hands for a block of time to finish some chores.
3. Music corner
This is in our living room and it gets used often which we like, instead of watching TV. The TV is tucked away upstairs although we did spend more time with it this month for the Olympics! Other than that, “watching days” for the kids are Tuesdays, Thursdays and when friends come to visit.
4. Reading corner
This is at the other end of the living room. There’s a couch somewhere on the right. I didn’t think of angling the camera properly but that’s me. Duffer.
Books are arranged generally according to genre, although we keep books for different Cores separate and colour coded. Most of our reading aloud is done upstairs before nap time and bed time, so relevant books are kept up there until they’re done with and returned downstairs. It’s a job getting the kids to put back each book in their proper place everyday, but the older two have mostly got the hang of it and have learned a thing or two about sorting. There’s a red tray for books they’re unsure goes where and it gets utilised too often when they’re lazy or in a rush to get outside and play!
5. Toys corner
Toys are organised in drawers at the far end of the book shelves. These are so ugly but cheap and functional.
One drawer for balls, one for vehicles, one for dolls, dressing up, etc. There’s a coffee table with cubby holes for the 18mo’s toys – shape sorter, blocks, stacking toys, so he can play when he’s done reading and still be with his older siblings (a.k.a. my trusty babysitters).
All this organization gets tweaked as the children grow, so I love finding out new ways how to do it better. There’s a lot to teach, but I’m also a firm believer in child-led learning. Keeping things well structured makes this possible. Everyone is happy when they know where to find stuff and can get into things whenever they like. It is so nice when I peek out of the kitchen and find that all 3 kids have immersed themselves with something hands-on they enjoy – not the idiot box. (Although they still jump at the chance of watching a DVD of course!)