We now have a large open plan living area where we can have more distinct areas for our learning materials, play and our sitting area. There is lots of wall space for displays. Below is my desk with an education materials shelf next to it, then some lovely new daily and monthly calendars, and a little blackboard. We also have our music spot with the piano and our music players. Mercy has begun to take an interest in learning the piano and I am attempting to include lessons.
These pictures were taken after our domestic worker comes on Tuesdays, things are not normally quite so neat. God has been good to us in blessing us with a good helper. It has also been a huge step forward to finally purchase my lockable toy and puzzle cupboard! You can see it here next to the play mat. This really helps to keep the craziness under control. Despite years of attempting to teach them, our children are not the best at packing up happily. So controlling how much mess they are able to make is important. This cupboard was purchased second hand and has four levels and even smells nice inside . . . all in all it is a great blessing and help (yes, almost as good as having another adult in the house, as I once read).
Near the door to the garage there is a sweet little nook that we are shaping into an art and craft and science area. We are keeping some materials out all the time and Nate spends a lot of time there. I put up some drying lines on the wall for paintings. I found a bucket caddy for pencils, sticky tape, watercolour paints, and glue that can be used on a daily basis. This has the added bonus of temporarily housing the random pieces of paper with possibly precious creations that are always around this table. God is good to give us the space to have a little table like this that can stay a mess. Later on I hope to get a small lockable cupboard to house craft materials and paint that become unmanageable if the children are allowed to access them at any time.
We are keeping some nature finds on the top shelf. I read the idea of a nature discovery table but realised this would not work in our house if kept out at all times . . . think pieces of coral in beds. So I decided to display the items out of reach and bring them down for specific nature discovery times. The other day Nate painted a watercolour of some of his finds.
Opposite the wall with the piano, bookshelf, etc. is this green wall. We hope to put up a big display board there when we find the right one to finally use some of our posters and create craft displays. Meanwhile the easel is getting more use as there is space to keep it out.
In the garden we had the delightful surprise of being given a chicken house. Eventually we hope to turn this corner into a chicken run. We are not quite ready to resume having hens yet though.
All this can look quite idyllic online but it looks a lot crazier in real life. I have found it harder than my classroom teaching experiences and been much more tested and broken than I was through them. There are the lovely moments reading stories and making discoveries and seeing progress. There is a lot of joy in persevering through tears to teach a child a skill and then seeing him/her do it naturally after all that effort. Then there are the days where children's emotions or unwillingness, teaching multiple levels, and other demands on our time make it seem impossible to hold it all together as the teacher/parent. Home education is a more relaxed lifestyle for the children but not necessarily the adults. My goal is to face the impossibility of reaching all our ideals without blaming myself or anyone else. My prayer is that we will instead depend on God to show us the way through our weakness to his strength and grace.