Last week we made the most of a cold and grey rainy day that announced the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn: we have created our new homeschooling space.
Hints that a space doesn’t “work” anymore
I have already noticed that during the Summer our playspace didn’t “work” anymore. We have been having this space divided in two areas: one corner for the Montessori-inspired materials and one corner for Waldorf/ imaginative/ open-ended play. I didn’t make any change during the summer because we were outdoors most of the time and traveling a lot.
But I kept observing and I have noticed that during the past months the imaginative play invaded the Montessori corner. The Montessori materials were used as loose parts. The puzzles became cakes, the shelf was an oven, the maps were used as props for constructions. I didn’t mind because I believe that imagination has no borders but when we wanted say have a look at a map, it was impossible because a whole village was built on top of it.
Also, I have noticed that my daughter who usually plays independently for long hours now, needed more input from me when she was interested in a particular topic. Like numbers and languages. She recently showed a growing interest for learning Romanian (my mother tongue) and German (the language we use where we live). To fully be present with her and support her in her learning I needed a decluttered space, without toys around. I’m always curious about my daughter’s imaginary world and her rich imagination and when she invites me to join in her play space I love asking questions about the little worlds she builds. And that distracted both of us from our discussions about numbers and practicing new vocabulary.
When my daughter was a toddler I used to make these changes by myself, but now she is part of the team. She has her own ideas and opinions and she definitely knows how to make her voice heard. So what usually took me a couple of hours will probably take us a day or more. Like any other team, we brainstorm, try out our ideas, negotiate and make decisions. It’s definitely a lot of fun but it’s also challenging. In the end, I think this is a great learning experience for both of us, much more that if I did this all by myself.
Last week, during a whole rainy day we have tried out different ideas and experimented a bit with the furniture and the spacial organization. I love these iterations until the “right space” (by this I mean the space that suits to our needs at that moment) emerges. This time it has taken me longer and was a bit more challenging. I follow my intuition when moving objects around and intuition is something hard to explain. My daughter, on the other hand, had her own ideas and we debated around the different ideas each of us came with.
It was definitely a wonderful occasion to learn about negotiation skills, explaining your point of view to someone else and bringing arguments to discussion. We both learned a lot from it.
In the end, we have decided to add a little shelf in the reading space we had in our hybrid space called “home office/ home library/ guests room” and create a “learning space” . I genuinely believe that “learning happens all the time” and you don’t need a dedicated space for it. But the idea behind was to create a space where we could explore my daughter’s interests of the moment. For now it’s numbers, geography and animals of Africa.
On her little shelf she has a globe, a puzzle with the European countries, Montessori sandpaper numbers, a Montessori puzzle with numbers, a wooden puzzle (great for counting), Waldorf numbers cards, Montessori cards with fruits and vegetables in Romanian, a basket with some Schleich animals from Africa. On the right side of the shelf there is a Montessori (pink) Tower - actually not pink but natural wood. On the left side we have a basket with our maps.
Our reading shelf that used to be against the wall and of which we used only one side is now separating the reading space and the learning space.
We can use both sides: on one side, facing the reading space we have the seasonal reading
and on the other side we have the reading resources that follow my daughter’s interests of the moment. This week we have books about numbers and counting on the upper shelf and books about the animals of Africa on the lower shelf
In this space we also have the wheals of time: one for the months of the year and one for our weekly rhythm. I will write more about our Waldorf-inspired Autumn rhythm in a next post.
Our playspace didn’t change much.
Here we have some
beautiful Waldorf-inspired toys: the gorgeous Grimm’s toys and the Holztiger and Ostheimer animals, blocks, loose-parts (mostly from our Speilgaben but also treasures from nature like lots of empty snail shells from our garden).
also a collection of empty baskets (one of my daughter’s favorite “toys” since she was a toddler)
a wooden train set
cars, dolls and some little vintage soft-animals that belonged to my husband when he was a child
a little basket with plasters, bandages and empty boxes of vitamins for the dolls who seem to be often sick
a basket with “costumes”: Sarah’s silks and some recycled fabrics from old curtains, shirts, etc..
a Wobbel board and a rocking horse
My daughter spends most of her free play time creating, crafting and drawing. So she suggested we should bring here the shelf from our artspace and some of the materials. We now have in the play space her favorite object ever: the scissors! If you are following us on Instagram (thank you :) you might have seen that she makes good use of her scissors, cutting her hair and decorating the home with washi tape.
On this shelf she has now all her favorite materials for crafts:
washi tape (she just loves washi tape that she uses to create objects, jewels, decorate windows and walls, repair toys ..)
recycled fabrics that she can cut however she wants
different kinds of paper
blocks and notebooks
On the top of this shelf she displayed her nature table with the treasures she has gathered during our nature walks or in our garden, her beautiful collection of stones and rocks and a little basket with the adorable Japanese objects that she has received from her penfriend who lives in Tokyo.
Now don’t you think that these spaces look like this all the time :) I have taken this pictures while my daughter was still sleeping, early in the morning, the day after we finished creating and tidying these areas. If you visit us on a regular day you will find plenty of cut paper and fabrics on the floor, constructions everywhere, loose-parts spread on the floor, pieces of washitape stuck on the walls.
I love my daughter’s creativity and I try to encourage it as much as I can, even if it’s hard for me to bare with the messy- work in progress- phase. That’s why I compensate with taking pictures when everything is decluttered and minimalistic :)