So many families are starting out homeschooling for the first time this year, and even more are now venturing into digital learning from home. Either way, your home is now your student’s learning environment, whether you have classes on a computer or not. A saying I like to remind myself of, especially when I’m frustrated with our home-life, is “manage the environment, don’t manage the person.” I remind myself that I don’t like to be managed, and I strive to show my children that same courtesy. Changing the environment is often all that’s needed to change the whole tone and flow of the household and home learning environment. What kind of educational environment do you want to surround your student in your home? I see so much focus on what curriculum to buy and on having a homeschool room that has posters of numbers and letters with school desks, and those sorts of things. Certainly there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I want to encourage you to think bigger. Think about what resources your students can have access to while living and learning in your home.
I really love this list of resources compiled by the UK based “self-directed learning community,” The Cabin. I think it’s an excellent list to inspire us towards enriching home learning environments. I’ve adapted it slightly with comments to be more focused on how this relates to a home learning environment, but I will say that one of the things I love about The Cabin is that it resembles the kindness, comfort, and expanse of an enriching home learning environment even though their students are traveling away from home to be there. When I first read The Cabin’s resource list I loved it, because I immediately recognized it as one of the most practical homeschool resource lists I’ve ever come across.
Practical Homeschool Resources
- The Library: have access to all sorts of media, paper books, digital books, audiobooks, video, internet, etc. Don’t focus so much on curriculum books for your home library, but more so on media your family loves and would like to share and discuss with one another.
- Role Play Area: have dress up clothes and props for all sorts of role play scenarios. This can just be a simple dress-up box. I also really love having some kind of dollhouse/action figure place space. This can be really open ended, but mainly just having little figures for pretend play scenes is great.
- Maker Space: a project space with writing, art and craft equipment. With home learning there will be plenty of projects. Have basic craft supplies on hand, like paper, crayons, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, scissors, tape, glue, etc.
- Games Chest: puzzles, board and card games galore. So many great discussions and learning come out of family game play.
- Building Zone: lego and other building kits to turn ideas into reality. This could be the same as the Maker Space. Just remember: there will be projects as well as projects left undone. Plan your space accordingly. Also, keeping some basic open-ended building supplies like wood blocks and legos on hand is great.
- Discussion Circle: a place to share ideas and experiences. This is really your living room, your dining table, a bedroom, anywhere in your house. Just remember to pause and have those discussions, about both the big and little things in life.
- Show and Tell Table: In the context of The Cabin, this space was envisioned as “bring something in from home that you would like to share!” In your home, just think of it as empty spaces on a bookshelf, clips to hang artwork on a line, or even the old magnets-on-the-refrigerator. Just plan a space to display student work and student treasures, like found sea shells and “cool rocks.”
- The Outside Box: a place for equipment that you might want to use in the outside play area. Plan for and encourage outside play, and facilitate it with easily accessible outside toys.
- Cooking & Gardening: Plan for kids to tinker in the kitchen and in the yard. Have easy access to supplies they are allowed to use and try to make yourself available when they need help.
Mostly, think of your home as a place of exploration and discovery where learning happens everywhere. Plan spaces that invite that exploration and discovery from your students.
List adapted from: https://www.downatthecabin.com/what-we-do