being brave: thinking about learning spaces

I’m currently taking Lori Pickert’s inaugural Project-Based Homeschooling Master Class.  Last week she challenged us to be brave and honest and share things with our classmates that aren’t perfect about our learning spaces, methods, etc.  I shared the photos below in the private classroom forum for other students to comment on/make suggestions about, and this week, since our topic of study is the learning space/environment, I’m sharing them here with a fuller explanation and reflection on the pros and cons of each and what I would like to do to move forward.

Challenges (both present and past) in our workspace that I would like to address:

  • Working within the constraints of a small space, while keeping the children in close proximity to me
  • Creating an area that protects Spud’s work from the toddler without completely eliminating FB from the learning experience
  • An organizational system for materials, etc. that is easy and works on a consistent basis, that encourages as much independence for Spud and FB as possible

bedroomtable

This blue picnic table is the best item we have for a desk/workspace.  It has moved back and forth between the corner/nook you will see below and the boys’ bedroom as I have searched for the best set up possible.

Pros:

  • Sturdy work area
  • Fits the area we need it to
  • Covered with thick clear plastic for easy cleanup

Cons:

  • Gaps/ridges between surface boards might be frustrating
  • Surface area may not always be large enough–not enough room to spread out

Ideas:

  • Fit the top of the table with a solid piece of wood or something else to make the area completely smooth
  • Be on the lookout for a free/cheap replacement that is slightly larger

playcorner

This corner is routinely cleaned and organized, but always returns to looking something like this.

Pros:

  • This area is in the “center” of our home–closest to where I usually am or need to be throughout the day
  • Near a window for some natural light
  • Shelving beside it in the form of the bookshelf, with space for a shelf and a corkboard to be added above the table as well
  • The side of the TV console can be used for display as well
  • The living room is behind this space, which would provide room for larger building projects/play; also the couch is nearby for a cozy reading space

Cons:

  • Very cramped for space; not much room for two children
  • Many items will not be toddler-safe here

Ideas:

  • Swap this area with the area below (yellow desk)
  • Add mirrors for more light

deskarea

This desk is at the other end of our living room, opposite the workspace in the second picture. This desk is “mine” but I never use it–instead, it’s basically used for Jr. and Bug’s computer access/use for school and a general catch-all for clutter.  Cowboy, ever the innovator, suggested adding a loft to this area in the form of a freecycled bunk bed complete with retractable ladder so that we could lift Spud’s workspace out of FB’s reach.  While I initially really liked this idea, and still do, I’m seeing a few problems with it.

Pros:

  • Lofted workspace would be out of toddler’s reach
  • Nearer computer for research

Cons:

  • Potential safety issues
  • Cramps workspace for older kids
  • Separates toddler from being able to observe the learning process as the 4-year old models it to him
  • Makes it almost impossible for me to observe and assist Spud during project time

Ideas:

Really liking the idea of trading the yellow desk space with the current play space.

Writing this post has given several new ideas to try out as I improve this space.  Do you have any thoughts or ideas?

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2 thoughts on “being brave: thinking about learning spaces

  1. i hadn’t thought about the gaps in the table but that could cause a problem when drawing — we had the lumberyard cut us scraps of fiberboard into roughly 9 x 12 rectangles and used those as drawing boards. you can also use some as the surface when you’re working with clay! (but keep them separate and wrapped in plastic bags between sessions — you wouldn’t want to try to clean them.) after the lumberyard cut them down, we just sanded the edges and corners ourselves. you can also use them outdoors (with binder clips or really big rubber bands to hold paper down) as a portable drawing/painting surface.

    i like your swapping out idea; it’s very bright there. are the shelves in the other picture built in? could you have a small shelf to hold art materials in the new area and keep books stored in the built-in shelves?

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