"I never teach my pupils. I only provide the conditions in which they could learn." -Albert Einstein
I agree with this statement. The learning environment is as crucial, if not more than, instructional teaching. Students need an environment where they can flourish, and that will look different for each homeschooling family. Here is a peek at what the Norwood family homeschool playroom looks like. (This is for children 2, 3, and 5 years old.)
1) Storage: In order to encourage the children to be able to clean up after themselves, you want to make sure not to have ALL of their toys out. Only make accessible to them what they can handle. For the other toys, you can rotate them. I like to have them stored away in a corner of the room in clear containers. They have labels on them that are clear and easy to read. My children have learned how to read "balls" an "music" just from looking at these labels.
2) Visible Academic Material: Displaying letters and numbers helps to make sure your children have exposure to them. This is effective for all, but particularly effective for visual learners. It supports emergent literary instruction.
3) Work Space -The mats and tables at the appropriate height give them space to work on whatever they are playing with.
4) Low Shelves: Accessibility is necessary to encourage self-sufficiency. Make sure your children can access the toys on the shelves, to be able to put them back themselves. You also don't want to overcrowd the shelves. I have three children of different ages with different interests, so I organize the shelves based on their interests and abilities. Buy our Teaching Multiples of Different Ages booklet here.
5) Blocks and other Manipulatives: Blocks encourage self expression, mathematics, science, creativity, and even turn-taking I highly recommend including blocks in your homeschool playroom. My children have blocks of different sizes, (mega blocks, Duplos, regular-sized Legos, and even MagnaTiles) to help encourage creative building.
6) Plenty of Lighting: Make sure the children are able to see the work they are doing. If you can have it, natural lighting is best because sunlight is important to the development of children, physically and mentally, and even encourages better behavior!
"Studies have shown that children who spent their days in daylit rooms showed more signs of healthy development, such as growth in height, and healthy weight gain.
A study of 21,000 students in three different states in the U.S. found that students in classrooms with ample daylight progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests in one year than students with limited or no daylight. This shows a clear link between daylighting and better academic performance." (Source -solabrite.com)
7) Art -some original art in the room brings about a sense of originality and character.
8) Display the Kids' Art, Though it's not very visible in the above picture, the window is used to display the children's art and other work. Displaying their art shows them the great work that they have been doing, and it is a good checkpoint for you as the teacher, to see their progress.
9) Books!: Reading nooks encourage literacy. This space in the playroom encourages reading. Make sure to have plenty of pillows. You want to give them books even before they can read. Access our Pre-Reading Activities booklet here.
10) A Comfortable Place to Read: You want to make the reading nook as comfortable as possible, so that children can sit for long periods of time, enjoying the books.
11) Easy Access - Let the books you would like them to read be easily accessible to them. They can choose which books they would like to read without needing you to get it for them
12) Wall Shelves and a Board for "Teacher-Accessible only" things -If you want something that is easily accessible to you, but not to the little ones (especially if you have curious little ones), then put it on the wall. Here, I've posted the calendar, rules, and fragile books.
13) Easel -The easel encourages handwriting practice, and creative expression. Make sure to have something for the children to write with accessible to them.
14) Push Toys, and Other Toys for the Babies -If you have babies and toddlers, you want to make sure that they have toys that they can play with as well. Push toys help develop gross motor skills.
15) Imaginative Play For your imaginative play area, make sure to include a mirror. To be able to see their many dress-up clothes, they need a mirror! This encourages more imaginative play.Include lots of clothes, which gives them lots of choices. I put ours in a milk crate because it is much easier to clean up. All you need to do is collect the clothing in the crate.
16) Memory Verses -Always put your memory verses on display, for your memory, and so that your children can see it. Once in a while, the memory verse that we are learning at the time comes in handy for the children. Buy How to Teach Your Child Memory Verses here.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Norwood family homeschool playroom! What are some of the must-haves for your homeschool room?