Education doesn’t have to just be done within a set of hours. We can create our homes to be an educational atmosphere at all times.
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I really believe that all of life is an education. To restrain learning to just school hours or “homeschool hours” I think would be a shame. Of course, learning during school hours is a gift, but why not show our children that learning can be so woven into the fabric of our lives that it is as natural as breathing? And better yet, what if learning was so natural, that we didn’t even notice we were doing it?
My children and I went to the library the other day. I always let them pick out books and 1 dvd each (yes, we still have a dvd player). My boys picked out Meet the Digraphs and a dvd about the different kinds of dogs there are. Why? Because they are genuinely interested in learning more about both of those things. And I love that. I love that in their “free time” they choose to continue to learn, and best of all, they don’t even know they are doing it.
Now, am I saying that every waking moment has to be specifically an educational thing? Nope. Sure not. My daughter picked out a “non-educational” dvd, but that is perfectly fine as well. Our brains do need to rest some times. But what I am saying is that I think we need to expand our minds to what we consider education to be. I’m not currently in school, but I am still learning so much just though the books I choose to read. I want that for my kids too, a desire and a love to continue learning, even if no one is forcing them to do it.
A Heart for Learning
British educator, Charlotte Mason, said, “The question is not, ‘How much does the youth know?’ when he has finished his education, but how much does he care?” That really is the point, isn’t it? Education is more than just the facts we learn, it’s the heart behind it. And it’s the heart for learning that I’m wanting to nurture and grow.
A vision I have for my home is for it to be a place where educational resources abound. That in their free time, all of us are reading a book or painting or gardening or pouring over a map of the world, because those are the things we are surrounded with. I want learning to be just “what we do” and for it to be a part of our family culture. So if you want your home to have an educational atmosphere as well, here are some of the ways to go about that.
How to Create an Educational Atmosphere
- First things first, you, as the mom, have to love to learn. I really don’t think the point is to just buy a bunch of stuff, put it around the house and then VIOLA, atmosphere of learning. Because you can have all the resources in the world and not love to learn, and alternatively, you can have no resources and love to learn. The point is your heart behind it. Do you yourself love to learn? What is your attitude about education and learning? We are going to have to have God change our hearts first before we will be able to model it for our children and expect them to love learning.
- Along that same vein, relationships have to be priority. A good atmosphere is really ultimately about the attitudes and spirts of the people who are there. It is hard to learn in an environment of bitterness, bad attitudes, and strife. Focus on nurturing relationships with your kids, loving them and doing the adventure of learning together.
- Be intentional about the resources in your home. If I am going to have resources in my home, I want them to be intentional and educational. I want them to help us grow and learn. Below I have a list of the types of resources I have in my home that aid in the educational atmosphere.
Resources for Creating an Educational Atmosphere in the Home
Toys– I already wrote a post about a lot of the toys I have in my home. You can read that here. But there are other toys I have lying around too. A scrunch map, abacus, counting animals, etc. These are just sitting around on shelves so the kids can pull them off and play with them. I love being intentional and picky with the toys in our house and choosing ones that promote creativity, thinking skills and learning.
Games– Now, not every single game in our house is educational. But I have educational games sprinkled in with our other games and my kids don’t even know the difference. We equally love playing, say, Sum Swamp, just as much as something like Hungry Hungry Hippo. Don’t differentiate between the two. Learning really can be fun AND done on a Friday night game night!
Books– Science books, history books, math books, geography books, art books, poetry books. Oh how I love books! Put them all over your house. Intertwine them with your other books. Also pay attention to what your kid is interested in and get books about that. Don’t want to spend money on books? The library. Don’t have much space? The kindle. Books are just a fabulous way to learn. I also love getting creative about ways to display books throughout the house so they are enticing and easy for the kids to grab.
Music– Whether it is the music you are playing in the home or instruments strewn about the house, music is a great way to add to the learning environment. I go in to more detail in this post about how we intentionally add music into our day, but a little classical music during rest time, tea time or even dinner is an easy way to be intentional.
DVD’s– Probably about 75% of the things my kids watch are educational. I figure if I’m going to let them watching something, why not have them learn while they are doing it? Once again, they don’t know the difference because I’ve never made a big hullabaloo about certain dvds being “educational” and others not.
Art Supplies– We have a caddy with all kinds of art stuff that the kids have access to when they are feeling artistic. I also have an organizer with paper, paint, stamps. etc. I hope to continue to grow my craft drawer because they absolutely love getting everything out and making their own creations.
Puzzles- I think puzzles are such a great way for kids to spend their time. I know not everyone will love puzzles (I actually don’t, my husband does) but my kids do and so I have created a drawer in our family room just for puzzles. My younger ones ask me almost daily if they can do a puzzle and it has been great for them to do while I am doing school with my oldest.
Workbooks– Now, what’s funny about this is that workbooks are usually associated with being dry and boring. So I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes at me. We actually don’t use many workbooks in our homeschool, we instead do lots of our learning with living books. But I love having workbooks sitting in baskets for the kids to do during rest time or when they just want to do one in their free time. Each kid has a basket that has workbooks, activity books, maze books, coloring books, etc. I also try to get ones that go with a particular interest they have. They can get the basket down any time and do them and I don’t make them do any of them. My preschooler asked for some with letters and another one asked for one about telling time. They all love them!