Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Geography Center

I have already mentioned in previous posts how much I love the book, "Educating the WholeHearted Child," by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I bought it this last summer from a homeschool convention and I have used it so much that it is already falling apart! One of my favorite chapters in the book is chapter 7, "The WholeHearted Learning Home: Creating a Home You Can Learn Within". This chapter has helped me to relax tremendously. One of my biggest worries when it comes to homeschooling has always been how do I spend enough time with them so that they are learning what they need to learn while also getting everything else done that has to be done outside of "school"? This chapter addresses that problem. Turn your home into a place where your children have to try hard NOT to learn!

"Creating a learning environment is the key. Make your entire home an exciting, vibrant place where learning is happening all the time - a place where loving to learn is as natural a part of your children's everyday existence as loving to play. Make it a child-friendly environment that is rich in interesting, inspiring, mentally stimulating options at every turn. Use every part of your home to engage your children's senses in the learning process and to strengthen their emotional ties to the home - the smell of fresh bread baking, the sounds of Baroque chamber music, the sights of beautiful Scripture calligraphy and interesting artwork. Your entire home should reflect your homeschooling values from the way you arrange your furniture to the books you leave out on tables to the pictures and verses you hang on the wall to the way you use your kitchen. There should be no discernible dividing lines between home and education. The natural atmosphere of your home should be alive with learning and life."

I couldn't have come up with a better description for a home "alive with learning and life" then this paragraph from the Clarkson's book. This is how I want my home to be! A major light bulb moment for lack of a better term. I am having so much fun filling our home library with beautiful literature, hanging posters that have information that I am challenging the children to learn, scattering Bible verses throughout the house, and creating "discovery corners".

"Discovery corners" have been a major blessing to our education at home. I have only created a few so far (art, writing, and geography), but my children have learned so much on their own through use of them. Their favorite corner is the geography corner which is housed in an old desk I have in the dinning room. I have filled it with a few puzzles of the USA (a small magnetic one, a medium sized puzzle on a board, and a large floor puzzle), our favorite geography book, "The Scrambled States of America", and the board game with the same name as the book. There is a vintage globe that I love sitting right next to the desk.

I was amazed today when my daughter knew the location of quite a few states (some I didn't even know!) without me ever teaching her any of it. My kiddos love to work the puzzles over and over again each day. They will pull the floor puzzle out and use the book to determine where the states go. They also have gotten very good at playing the game together. They may not be following the directions exactly right, however they are reading and learning facts about the states and that is all that matters to me.

I have far to go with turning my home into a place where the children have to try not to learn, however I am making progress which has been proven to me today to be paying off. I am on the right track and am very excited about that. I will never be able to repay Sally Clarkson for the positive changes she has helped me to make in my home. It is worth far more than the $20 I paid for her book and the price of admission into the homeschool conference where I had the chance to hear her speak.

So my question to you is if you work to make your home a learning environment what is it that has been most beneficial to your family?

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