First, thank you everyone for your nice comments, both on the blog and privately. I wanted to answer a couple of questions. The first two were sent privately.
Yes, I do routinely let my children help with such things as painting. :)Part of our homeschooling plan is to actively seek ways to teach our kids practical skills. We bought this house when Maria was 7 years old. She has helped with every project I've done. She loves it. Yes, she makes mistakes here and there. I have a couple of green smudges on my ceiling that I'll have to touch up someday. She did the closet all by herself and it looks a bit rough in there in places. But she does surprisingly well overall. I'm not a professional either, so I also mess up sometimes. I'm not concerned that it look perfect. If I was, I'd hire a painter. The boys helped just on that one wall. They just wanted to try it out, and as I predicted, Kain grew bored with it very quickly and didn't ask to help again.
Another person asked how we keep the school room from getting trashed. Haha! Well, we struggle with this a great deal. It's getting easier. Here's what's helping-
-The toddler isn't ever in the school room without an adult. I have a baby gate up in the doorway, and her toys are on shelves in the living room. I plan to keep it that way until she is old enough to pick up what she takes out.
-The schoolroom is one of our "zones". Maria is in charge of this zone, and so she goes in there at the end of the day to straighten it up. I also check it periodically and will call someone back to clean up a mess I find.
-I only keep a few toys out at a time, especially toys that have lots of pieces. This is critical. I said in the post that cars and trains are in the drawers under the train table. Other than that, I have two very small shelves for holding toys. We have several collections of different types of animals (farm, zoo animals, etc.) and people (Bible figures, astronauts, etc.). Usually I will put out one basket of each. We have several boxes of different building toys (tinker toys, legos, wooden blocks) and I will have one of these out at a time. Or I will put out one box of something else with lots of pieces, like Jack's Little People zoo. I will have another toy or two, like maybe a couple of toy instruments. That's plenty of mess. I will rotate toys once a week or so, but the kids are welcome to pick up one box and swap it for another. They do have to ask first so that I can make sure things are picked up properly. The older two have a couple of boxes that stay in the closet, and they can get them out when they want them. We also have board games and puzzles in the closet, and I'm really anal about how they are put away. A few times of sorting through giant piles of mixed games will do that to a person. :)
" What do you find are the advantages and disadvantages of the separate schoolroom?"
We've almost always had a separate schoolroom. When we first started homeschooling, we lived in a tiny two-bedroom duplex. Maria was an only child then. I put a tall bookshelf by our dinette table and that's where we did school. It worked well-enough, but I did want a separate room. When we first moved into this house, we had the schoolroom in the bedroom that John and I are now using. This meant that our schoolroom was upstairs, and that didn't work out so well. When we would go up to work, I was cut off from the rest of the house. And when the kids would go up to play, they were largely unsupervised.
The current schoolroom is actually supposed to be the master bedroom, and it is downstairs. We have three other bedrooms. John and I (and for now the baby), have the one upstairs room (actually a finished attic space), Maria (and later, Tess) has a downstairs bedroom, and Kain and Jack share another. Other than that, we have a very small living room and a very small dining room. This house isn't that big. The kids' bedrooms are small, and having the separate schoolroom also gives them more room to play.
I think making a separate schoolroom work is all about location. Our current schoolroom is right off of the dining room. I can easily go hang a load of laundry, watch Jack play outside from the schoolroom window, or throw lunch on the stove. We can move our work to the dining room when we want a bigger table. We don't necessarily contain our schoolwork to the schoolroom. I can put on a dvd for Jack and still be nearby to keep an eye on him. My favorite thing about the schoolroom is that is a place to contain everything...all our books and supplies, maps, files, etc. It all lives in there. And except for Tess's things, all the toys live in there too.
Ok, that was fun! Answering questions makes for an easy post topic. Ask more questions! Why do Catholics do what they do? How do we solve world hunger? How do you stay looking so young and beautiful? Ask away!