It's that time of year when I start to devote quite a bit of time to thinking about what is working well for our homeschool and what is not. Its time to register for homeschool conventions in the spring, and all the new curriculum catalogs are arriving in the mail. It's time for the mid-year reviewer to take a peek into your day. It's both an exciting time of year and a frustrating one for the homeschooler. January and February are the months that I start to fall into a homeschooling slump - we fall too easily into a boring rhythm of checklists, just making sure everything is done - and we lose the excitement of how fun learning can be! The important thing is recognizing it and then DOING something about it.
After thinking through every subject and how Boo is responding to each one, and filling out all my forms to be sent to my reviewer, and making that final decision about the fact that we WILL continue to homeschool next year - it was time to refresh a few things!
Boo and I took a field trip to Ikea earlier this week. We decided it was mainly a "Mechanical Engineering" field trip - that was after she spent hours and hours assembling her very own brand new homeschool desk. That girl is a mechanical genius! I would put something together wrong and she had to un-do it and put it together right. But of course, first we had to do the shopping. The fun part about homeschooling is just about everything can be a learning experience. I was more intentional than normal about "teaching" my little charge about how the store was set up, how the Ikea warehouse system worked, she had to figure out which row and which bin our items were to be found. We had measured our space before we left the house in feet. When she found the desk she liked, she then had to convert the feet to inches to make sure it would fit.
You may have read on my blog here before about how our homeschool has been "simplified" this year. In years past we had devoted our entire basement to a school room and went a little overboard (although very fun!). You can see it HERE. That was when all three girls were homeschooling, and it served us well. Now that it's just the youngest homeschooling, we decided to just keep things simple and do most of our work at the dining room table. I do LOVE the idea and seems to fit into our lifestyle much better than the way we did it years before in the basement. Homeschooling while the day just naturally happens lends itself to a much more natural and casual approach to learning. We do have a rhythm to our day, more so than a schedule. However - the problem of always having the school books all over the dining room table tends to make getting dinner on the table more difficult. Since we recently decided we are definitely homeschooling for at least another year, we thought it would be a good time to make things a bit more permanent and invest in a (very reasonable) school desk that we can both fit at for having our learning times together. A designated homeschool space also just serves to have a foundation of sorts to our day.
My little Boo has definitely inherited her momma's love for organization. Too bad the big sisters seem to have missed that gene. She loves having desk drawers now for all of her school things. More drawers than we can even fill right now! It's so refreshing to have room to grow.
The cabinet side of her desk stores her daily workbooks.
We bought two Ikea desk end pieces - one with a cabinet and one with drawers and simply laid a table top over both of them. I secured the top to the bases with velcro strips. Simple and inexpensive!
We still do our homeschooling in the dining room/front library area of our home. It's hard to see in these pictures, but we have her desk set up right in front of the window in the dining room. It gets beautiful morning light, and we have a tree top view of the woods in our backyard. We can watch the birds at the feeder right from our window - or the snow falling, the foggy wooded mornings - its wonderful!
Just beside the dining room I still have all of our other homeschool necessities close at hand.
I keep a little basket in the corner with things to keep little hands busy during read-alouds, or thinking games and puzzles, and educational DVDs. Have you ever heard of Marie's Words? What a wonderful resource for any age kid - homeschooled or not. We love looking through these cards!
If you find yourself in the middle of the winter homeschool rut - try refreshing your learning spaces or adding a few fun new learning resources to your day!