Monday, November 05, 2007

The Preschool House

When four people take up 1300 square feet, it is inevitable: everyone’s life pours over into every space of the house. For us, that means wooden train tracks bridge the legs of my husband’s ottoman, finger puppets are scattered behind the futon, my desk and computer buzz two feet from the master bed, and the dining room is now our homeschool environment. We have alphabet magnets and Fridge Phonics stuck on the oven & refrigerator doors; the wooden foods of my children’s kitchen station share space with the working kitchen. Every space is multi-purpose; each room of the house acts as a dedicated area of a creative at-home Montessori school. I don’t mind this, most of the time. In fact, I am rather proud of our art wall--where the children’s origami, watercolors and collages daily hang above our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s just that when this spillover starts to feel less like a trickle, or even an integration, and more like a flood of chaos, I lose my mind.

I can only step over astronauts and space shuttles so many times before I miss walking like a normal adult--without the odd gait of lift-high, step-lightly. I’m not saying my house is a mess--it’s just small! We try to clean up each room every night so that every thing is in its place, and every place is holding its things, but on weeks like this one, when the children and I have passed a virus back and forth amongst ourselves like a hot potato, I’m wearier than most days. These are the days when I think about ditching my homeschool convictions, and enrolling my children in true Montessori classrooms.

I’ve been reading John Holt’s “Teach Your Own,” however, and keep getting pulled back into my commitment. The children climb up into their Learning Tower to help me bake cappuccino muffins for their daddy’s birthday, and I cherish the fact that they are home with me in the middle of the day to participate in a practical chemistry and math assignment: baking. We are far from having established an organized routine, but Mondays do typically mean art projects, Thursdays will usually find us at the library, and all the days in between ebb and flow to follow my grocery list, car maintenance schedule, trips to the post office, and church activities. So far, this Preschool House is working for us, despite inconveniences.


Anonymous said...

That is the beautiful life of someone with the homeschooling mindset. Every moment is an opportunity to teach. From the fractions used in baking to explaining repetition as a literary device while reading the Three Little Pigs (well actually, Kellin was making up her own version: The Three Little Kittens!). We use bath time to explain buoyancy, reading time to talk about the Yangtze River in China, use real coins to talk about the value of money, and practice writing making thank you notes for recent birthday gifts. I can't imagine not participating in my children's education this way. I'm shocked that I ever thought I couldn't do it! It's as natural as can be!

Barras said...

That was us this am making mac 'n' cheese from scratch. Yum! You inspire me, Lis! And the pic of Logan under the ottoman is priceless- what great perspective!