The Space We’ve Made: 5 Tips to Organize Your Homeschool Room
It’s been about five months since we’ve moved into our new home and four months since we’ve added a new member to our family. With less space to work with (compared to our previous home), I had to get creative with how I can maximize our limited area so we could still have a great work environment conducive for growth and learning. I rearranged our furniture, reorganized our cabinets and reintroduced house rules so my children could adjust more effectively.
It’s been a few months and I’m finally ready to share some pictures of our new Montessori-inspired home with you! I will be sharing more about each area: our kitchen, bathroom and the children’s room in my next entry but for now, here’s what I’ve done in general.
Encouraging order, independence, and self-motivation are fundamental to the Montessori approach. Having a carefully designed classroom allows a child to develop competence in caring for himself and his surroundings. And from the sense of pride that “I did it myself!” blooms the confidence to take on the world.
Bringing the Montessori principle into our home has allowed us to promote a love for learning and a joy in independence.
Here are five tips that may help you create your ideal home environment.
1. (This may seem obvious) Make it orderly.
There’s a place for everything and everything has its place! Your child will know where to find what he needs, and where to put it when he is done. An orderly environment also has fewer distractions, allowing your child to focus on the task at hand. It may seem like a lot, but make sure you have enough shelves, boxes, cubbies or whatever you may choose to use to organize and store the materials in their proper places.
2. Facilitate spaces that will teach your child life-skills.
This depends on your family, your space and your children. In our home, my husband and I have agreed that, though it may be inconvenient for adults, bowls, plates and cups can be stored at the bottom of our shelves. This allows our children to have easy access in both helping put them away as well as retrieving them for meal time. We also give the kids a stool so they can also put their dishes in the sink.
This is our 22 month old emptying out the dishwasher and helping me put away our dishes.
3. Find spaces that promote concentration.
Each of our children have different personalities and learning styles. They are also at different stages of their lives. But since there is only one of me and three of them, I created a (personal) space for each of them, where they can do their work and where I can be close by if needed.
Titus is seated at a community table, which is against our couch. Since he needs a little more instruction and redirection than Micah, this table allows me (or Micah if they want to work together) to sit next to him, across from him or leave him to work by himself.
Kaydi (infant) also has a space in our environment. This small flat mat, mirror and open shelf allows opportunities for movement and independence. It promotes tummy time during the day which helps exercise and develop her muscle strength. The mirror helps her see and recognize herself as she lifts her head. Hearing the family noises and voices helps her learn as she observes her surroundings. Having her own shelf with wooden toy allows her to focus on the toy and motivate her to independently crawl to retrieve it once she reaches the crawling stage.
4. Let your spaces evolve!
Don’t be afraid to change things up. Move your furniture around, rearrange your shelves and be flexible. See what works for your family and modify it to meet your needs. Even if you have a small area, you can add shelves, angle boxes and use different tools and activities to maximize the space and it’s impact. Work with what you have.
At one point, I too was getting frustrated because I thought I didn’t have enough shelf space to place my materials. A creative solution was to get shelf dividers (from amazon or the container store or even the dollar store) to split and essentially double the space.
While your child’s work environment should be free of distraction, it doesn’t have to be away from family activity. Some children may prefer working at the kitchen table (while you cook) or reading in a cozy corner of the living room to holing up in a bedroom or study. Observe your child’s response to various environments, ask questions, and make adjustments as needed. Be open to changes and have fun making them!
5. Most importantly, parent with a purpose.
Even if you have the best environment where everything is perfectly organized and perfectly placed, it must also be surrounded with a proper heart towards God. As parents, we often think if I just get my kids the best materials or if I get them into the best classroom or get them the best supplies, they will be great. But the truth is, God teaches us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Your classroom is ideally well-organized and properly equipped, but the most important element is that we as parents, must have the proper heart attitude towards our gracious Lord and Savior. We must exhibit the characteristics of God as we teach, guide and disciple our children. This is a willingness to learn about God’s awesome Word, and use it to glorify Him as we teach them about His wonderful and beautiful creation. It comes in the form of teaching them not just proper behavior but also exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in everything that they do. I am the first to confess that this is a difficult task, but I am grateful that the Lord has given me His Word as the best tool to help me raise the children He has entrusted in my care. What a great privilege it is to serve Him this way.
I truly believe that no matter how large or how small your space is, creating the best and most amazing environment for your child is all up to you! Be creative, be unique and make it yours! Please feel free to share your environments with me!
You can check out my previous post for some characteristics you may want to keep in mind when you create your own Montessori-inspired space. This was our previous Montessori homeschool room in at our first home.