May 19, 2010

Creating a space for your home-schooled child can be a daunting task, but is essential to the learning process and sanity of the parents. For many, such as myself, homeschooling starts as a very disorganized and haphazard experience. If you are lucky enough to have a spare room available for conversion into a classroom, use it! If not, there are many methods to minimizing the space required, but some amount will have to be permanently set apart as the classroom.

Desk versus Floor

Despite all amounts of persistence and/or determination, much of a child’s school work will end up being performed on the floor. No matter how rational a desk and chair sounds, the floor is that much better. To avoid the use of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and family history volumes as slates, supply a board like Masonite to be used as a proper backer for papers. Investing in good, thick, carpet could also be wise (I know I would have appreciated it).

Furniture

A desk and bookshelves are obligatory, but they should be sturdy (real wood if you can). Make sure all shelves are capable of supporting a small child, otherwise fill the shelves so full of books they cannot serve as adequate hand/foot holds. Avoid tall bookshelves as it is probable there is a direct correlation between height and the temptation to climb something. Metal furniture is quite sturdy, but its sharp edges are much more difficult to remedy and it does not break falls nearly as well as wood.

Color and Lighting Color and lighting are extremely important. The classroom should not feel like a police drama’s interrogation chamber. Windows work wonders in this department, although windows may require strategic placement as birds and cars are extremely interesting and often lead to hours of intense observation. Natural light is best, but make sure the room is well lit for rainy days. Taste in paints and color palettes are extremely subjective, my advice is to just not overdo it. The colors should be fun not epileptic.

Accessories

Posters are an excellent accessory for a classroom and are even better if the walls are lackluster. Be wary of where you place them, though. I used the Declaration of Independence on my wall many a times for spelling quizzes. Another item is the abacus. While not always useful, an abacus is very stylish and can make a classroom appear scholarly in a pinch. They also make great toys; children generally agree spinning and flicking beads is great fun.

The Chalkboard

The quintessential part of any classroom is the chalkboard. They serve as a bulletin board, an instruction tool, and will save a home’s walls from being the artistic creation of the next Picasso. I, however, cannot stand the sound of chalk against a blackboard and prefer markerboards. A whiteboard is perfectly suited for doing mathematics and will become essential if you plan on homeschooling through high school. Many problems in higher math involving series, large integration, or polar coordinates can take up a whole board so size does matter. There are several varieties of wipeboards and each have their benefits and problems. Melamine (the typical white board) and painted surfaces will stain or ghost and are liable to be scratched. Glass White boards and Porcelain Boards boards will last a long time and are very professional looking, but they have the price tag to go with it. All boards are subject to the climbing rules of furniture.

About the Author:
Michael Wilson is a freelance writer who writes on many topics including homeschooling, mathematics, and teaching. Michael can be contacted at wilsonmichael560@gmail.com

We’ll be bringing you new articles occasionally, so stay tuned – and Happy Homeschooling!