Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Charlotte Mason called it atmosphere, Montessori stressed it was all-important in her system of education. Yes, the environment. So how do we structure our environment in the home to make it easy for children to learn? I've read many books on the subject. It can seem daunting and time-consuming when you first hear about creating an environment. How do I do it? What if I don't have any room? Is it too expensive? Fortunately every one of these issues, with the exception of the second question in extreme cases, can be easily resolved.

The key is, as the book Playful Learning and many more point out, is to accentuate what you already have in the home. The truth is, a preschool or kindergarten recreates the home. There is a food prep station, a section for toys, a dress-up area, a computer area, shelves with books, etc. Getting the picture?

I can tell you what has worked well for us. We have learning area all throughout the house, as in any home, but we put emphasis on each of them and really created a library and art area in one of our rooms. We set up some bookshelves with Brandon's collection of books within his reach and some educational toys on top. This way he can interact with the material whenever he wishes to (a Montessori idea). We also put up an ABC chart. He loves to look at them and point them each out. He also has an art table (a gift from grandparents) where he can draw, color and fingerpaint to his heart's content. We have rows and rows of books of our own to inspire him and to convey to him in a natural way that we value knowledge in this house.

Our closet is his dress-up room. He helps us cook in the kitchen. His specialty is pizza and muffins. I try to play soothing classical music a few times a week. He dances in the living room, which is cleared up for dancing space, and we have the computer to serve as an educational tool. His room is also the toy room.

As you see, it's easy to create an environment where learning can take place easily.

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