Sunday, 25 February 2007

The new room

I have a schoolroom. I've agonised long enough. And we're calling it a schoolroom. Schoolroom schoolroom schoolroom. There. That's got it out into the world.

Now for the benefit of non-home educators, I have to explain. Because here in Central town, we don't Home school, we Home educate. And we've stayed away from the word 'Home school' in case it implies school at home, with a timetable, and National curriculum books, and different disciplines, and sitting round the table doing worksheets. We don't do that package.

We don't quite do the full autonomous thing either. I'd feel inadequate when it comes to running about supporting three completely different interest areas of triplets. And then I'd worry that Squirrel was making a cable car, even though she'd really like to make a fish, because Tiger is making a fish. And Tiger's only making a fish because Shark's making a table, and they all have to do something different, just to be different, even though sometimes they'd quite like to do the same.

So our form of home ed is probably a mix between school and autonomy. We do themes, and focus weeks, and projects. We'll look at something everyone's interested in, like elephants. We'll go and see elephants, read and write poems about elephants, make a giant elephant out of cardboard, cook elephant dung cake from a recipe we make up; we'll draw pictures of elephants, find a webcam on a temple elephant in Asia, learn about elephants at work, the ivory trade, and elephant distribution round the world. I bet somewhere there's an elephant museum. And in it all, if anyone cares to look, there'll be maths and geography and literacy and history and so on.

When we mix school and autonomy, we stick to phrases like 'we home educate'. Then, to stay on the safe side, we start saying things like 'we home educate in the community using the home as a base'. Well, saying, 'We have a room in which we home educate and sometimes in a structured manner and from which we speculate and then build on our experiences in the community' starts to sound like a mouthful. So we considered 'Workroom' but what goes on here isn't work, it's fun. Saying 'Playroom' is wrong too. 'Resources room' sounds like a cupboard and 'Schome' sounds like a fruity bun. So it's Schoolroom.

I have a Schoolroom. Since the children moved out yesterday and into their new bedrooms, I've installed into the Schoolroom two Ikea tables and four chairs, including a rocking chair for stories; storage trays for craft items, paint and construction sets; and trays for paper craft, sewing and knitting. The shelves are stacked with books and games. Already the display areas are disappearing and I'm planning new shelves to display the huge assortment of craft objects that can be churned out from toilet rolls, pom poms and wiggly eyes.

And tonight the Schoolroom is lovely. Soon it will be a tip, and I won't be able to find anything. Or we'll all have to move the beds back in, and I'll lose it forever. But right now, for these brief hours, it's a great place to home educate.

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