We dismantled the "schoolroom." This was a long time coming. And I think it's a good thing. Last year, around this time, with bedrest looming, I began to think about that room and how tied we were to it. I was a little panicked by the prospect of "schooling" without it. And then, lo and behold, the "schoolroom" was moved bedside.
Except it wasn't. I was in bed and the children came into my room for instruction and conversation, but the schoolroom still existed. And the children went in there and pretty much had their way with the resources. The schoolroom was trashed. Even those things that were well-intentioned (can you say "endless Montessori printables?" Mary Beth's Montessori blogroll is three times what mine is), were taking up lots of room. During bedrest, I learned I didn't need that big, beautiful room to educate my children. What I really needed was just to give them my "uncluttered" attention. After the baby was born, I was utterly overwhelmed by the "stuff" in that schoolroom every time I wandered in there. And that wasn't all that often. I had broken my schoolroom habit.
The room is huge. And we had kids who didn't really have a bedroom. Three of them, to be exact. So, it hit me late one night, that the schoolroom had to go. The room I so lovingly created when we moved into this house nearly eight years ago, wasn't the best use of that space any more. Truth is, as nice as that room was, it encouraged some unhealthy things.
- I was way too sedentary there. I would plop down in the desk chair and read, and point, and direct and pretty much never get up.
- The computer was way too available there. Just a quick check while plopped in the aforementioned chair..sigh...
- We had filled it with too much stuff. Too much stuff. Just because there's room for it, doesn't mean we should have it.
- We were cramped in there and it was too busy. It had begun to feel a bit like a busy fishbowl.
- I was burned out and I really felt like the schoolroom was feeding the fire. I wanted to begin again with a truly clean slate.
the pantry before
So, we dismantled the schoolroom. We relocated many of the hands-on materials to a closet in the mudroom. Like the schoolroom, I had loved that closet when I first filled it. All neat and tidy, all full of food storage. Attachments, attachments, attachments. Now, I determined to fit a room full of stuff into the pantry closet, while relocating the pantry items to the kitchen. I would need to pare down the manipulatives and the pantry items and some kitchen items. This was to be detachment in a big way.
the new mudroom closet
And I did it. And it's a good thing.
Then, I moved the core materials of our learning--essential books, paper, crayons, and pencils, etc,--to our sunroom. There are three walls of windows there and then one half wall of wall space. I was not going to put anything in front of the windows. So, I forced a roomful of materials against one wall. The rest are to be given away. More detachment.
Still a good thing.
The computer was moved into the family room. The entire middle floor of the house began to open itself up to our active learning there. I can see how much more I'm going to move during the day now. The children have desks and some books in their bedrooms. The ones who are old enough be encouraged to spend time each day in quiet study at their desks. They'll curl up on the couch with me to read. We'll enjoy the fireplace much more this winter. And yes, I'll fold laundry throughout the day. I'll make sure that kitchen stays clean. I'll probably sweep the floor a lot more often. I don't think it will be a bad thing to integrate our learning and our household activities.
And I'm so looking forward to having our mantel in front of us all day.
It's all looking like a very good thing.
Oh, and that left me with a very large, empty room where the schoolroom once lived. More on that room tomorrow:-).