I am so excited to share a big change in our home with you! This was a work in progress in my mind for a while, and I finally put it into action while Ella and her Papa made Marshmallow Play Dough last month.
Ella’s “homeschool” room shared a space with my office, which was designed originally to be a formal dining room. The intention for it to be a shared work room for the two of us never really worked out; my “desk” (a repurposed dining room table) and office chair are quite bulky and blocked off access to the adjoining kitchen, while the positioning of a small shelving unit in front of the only other seating in the room (a futon) meant that I was always sitting down at my computer when Ella wanted to work in the room… and to be honest, the computer would more often than not earn my attention. The arrival of some much-anticipated Montessori materials which the previous lay-out had no room for encouraged me to re-evaluate our situation.
I choose to move my office into my bedroom, which was a better use of space (as my bedroom is the size of most living rooms) and the move keeps me closer to Ella during the night, which she finds comforting, allowing her to sleep better and has almost eliminated night waking. It also prevents me from hopping onto my computer as often, which has been a good thing.
The simple move freed up an entire room to be used for Ella’s “work.” I am so excited to have different spaces for “play” and “work” for Ella; I can be very guilty of taking up space and time that should be spent on play and allocating it to learning, so having a clear designation works well for me. Also, Montessori was very clear that children should not “play” with certain work materials, so having a distinction between where we place toys and open-ended materials, versus clearly designed activities/materials is helpful for both of us. Ella knows what’s expected/allowed in every area, and I am not worried about losing pieces or misuse of items.
The literary and cultural area is still in the main living room/playroom area, as they are mainly pleasure books and puzzle work, not strictly homeschool materials. This may change as Ella gets older, but I currently can’t imagine fitting anything else into the work room! (Although I’m sure I’ll figure out a way!)
The work room is divided almost in half based on purposes of the materials. The blue bookshelves, which I had previously allocated four shelves of to Ella’s materials, now only contains my bare essentials (cookbooks and the next books to-read) and has been opened up to allow for 9 shelves. These are solely for learning materials and activities, and are typically not open-ended. The far left case is for Practical Life, middle contains mostly Sensorial, and the far right is Mathematics. To the left of the bookcases are Ella’s workmats, stored in a new “trash” bin, and to the right is a slightly toppled Pink Tower (at least you don’t have to worry if I “staged” the room for the shoot!)
Underneath the futon, I have stored Ella’s light table, which works for us as many of her friends are not used to this type of activity and it was getting misused during play-dates. This way, Ella can pull it out when she is interested (or I can set up an invitation) and it can be stored away when not in use. (There is also currently a bouncer under the futon which will be loaned out shortly and some of the “block overflow” will inevitably take its place.)
Ella’s Art Corner has been slightly broken up, but it is working well in our new set up. The easel and washable mat have stayed where they were and have been joined by the rolling art cart. There is also an “always accessible” blackboard across from the easel, as I noticed Ella had stopped moving the easel to access the chalk side. The blue art table has been moved to the “meal prep” area and is now exclusively for work and art (and the occassional snack). It hasn’t changed much, and across from it are the two rotating art trays, Ella’s current collection of play dough (see monstrous tupperware tower on the far left below — she usually doesn’t have this many on the go!) and a 3-drawer shelving unit (wheels removed) that holds various art materials that she has free access to.
Beside the art shelving unit is a small shelving unit dedicated solely to open-ended materials, at this time mostly building materials. I love the addition of mirrors to our building and to our art study, so there is a backless mirror laid ontop of a ply board in front of the block storage, and a framed mirror mounted on the wall behind the art materials. A shatterproof mirror would be a better choice for the ground, as some children might be rougher than Ella or attempt to move the mirror. Ella attempted to move the mirror at first but that was corrected and stopped. Beside the shelving unit is a duplo building table and some duplo and mega blocks. This will likely be replaced by Lego eventually, but it has seen more use in this new set-up than it ever did previously, so we will likely be keeping it for awhile!
I am still trying to figure out where to position Ella’s nature table, as it used to be where my desk was moved to. We have several plants positioned on our new dining table, so I might move them there or to the language centre. At the moment, we just have a small set-up in front of the television, which works, but I’d really love to allocate more space to it.
I would love your feedback or suggestions on our new room! For a detailed account of what’s currently on our shelves, click here.