Imagine walking into a shopping center with no displays and no color, just white walls with nothing to entice the shopper to spend money. Do you think their revenue would decrease or increase? That’s a no-brainer – it would probably close for lack of interest. If the aesthetic attractiveness of a shopping center is vital for success, how much more is such an environment for creating a viable learning space?
According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there were an estimated 2.3 million homeschoolers in 2016, up from 2 million in 2010. The numbers are growing. It’s obvious that Christian homeschooling is on the rise and Christian families are making the leap. Homeschooling is an important part of life for millions of students.
The decision to homeschool is a major one, so the setting where you choose to homeschool your children should involve more than just a passing thought. It’s important to create a specifically dedicated space to encourage learning and intellectual curiosity.
So, how can you do this? Here are 5 essentials:
Turn Off Screens Not in Use
Have you ever walked into a classroom – elementary, secondary, or college – that had all sorts of screens streaming content not related to the subject? Probably not. Superfluous screens aren’t conducive to learning. It’s a distraction – and distraction isn’t conducive to learning or child development.
You know your students, so you know what promotes their learning. If it doesn’t, remove it from their line of sight and put it in another room.
Use Appealing and Engaging Visual Aids (Pictures, Videos, etc.)
One-dimensional learning only grabs one person – the person it is geared toward! The reality is that you probably have more than one student in your classroom and some of them need more than just books to help them learn. Utilize everything you can get your hands on. If you have a lesson on the Acropolis, show pictures of what it looked like in its heyday, as well as what it looks like in present-day Athens. Show them a documentary on the new efforts to reconstruct it. Make learning come alive through using engaging visual aids.
Use as Much Natural Lighting as Possible
If you’ve recently been in a kindergarten room during naptime, you probably noticed that the first thing teachers do is lower the lights. Teachers do this because they don’t want their students learning – they want them napping. The opposite effect should be used if you are promoting learning. Create an environment that has as much natural lighting as possible. Natural light generates happiness, but most important, it keeps us awake!
Enable Physical Movement (Yoga Ball, Chin-Up Bar, Exercise Area, Daily Walks, etc.)
Students and adults get bored. One easy way to battle this is through physical movement. This may be something that you schedule into your day, or that you randomly interject when you see fatigue or boredom setting in. Remember that the end game is to promote learning, not to keep your student still. If that requires an afternoon walk or a daily exercise time, do it. The reward is long term.
Celebrate Changes and the Passage of Time with Visual Cues
Students are naturally attuned to seasonal changes. This might be less true if you live in an environment where there are fewer changes in seasons, but regardless of where you live, you can celebrate the changes happening in nature by using visual cues to focus on them. This could be through painting a wall with a mural, or putting up pictures of seasons across the country or the world.
Another interesting way to show the passage of time is to visually show what time it is in various parts of the world. Do a small class segment learning about the Greenwich Mean Time and what it means to our world, and for how time is calculated. One visual way to do this is to purchase cheap clocks, set them to different time zones, and hang them on the wall with the name of a city in that time zone. It’s a fun way to teach students about time!
Learning doesn’t have to be boring and neither does a homeschool environment. Be sure to take into consideration who your students/children are. What are their interests, their distractions, and their sources of inspiration? Once you get some ideas, engage them in the creation of your school environment. Get their buy-in and allow them to feel some ownership in the process. This will engage them from the beginning.
If this scares you because you’ve never put together a space like this before, don’t forget to look at blogs or connect with another homeschool group(s) to brainstorm effective ways to create that perfect homeschool room! The more ideas you engage, the better the result.
If you’re looking for resources to supplement their education, Christian parenting tips, or other engaging media for Christian families, check out our online catalogue of exciting and educational tools!