If I could go back to the me that started homeschooling in 2009, I would give her one piece of advice: Establish a reading corner.
However, while the 2009 me knew, in an abstract way, that a reading corner was probably a pretty darn good idea, it wasn’t until seven years later that the idea really cemented enough to do something about it.
Even then, it took a weekend with Mr. Wordplay and half the children out of town to be able to get it done.
The result? Worth every spilled paint drop.
Let me set up the thought process here, just like we’d set up a scientific problem.
The issues: 1) Library books scattered around the house (and perpetually late). 2) Books that I’d buy, and that seemed really necessary, that would arrive in our mailbox and then languish on overflowing shelves. 3) Not being able to find those super cool, absolutely necessary books when I needed them.
Further issues: 1) Lack of a come-together, get-our-act-together morning routine. Sometimes it was at the kitchen table, occasionally in the schoolroom, but often not at all. 2) Difficulty keeping everyone together long enough for our science and history reading on a daily basis (i.e. somebody was always off playing Lego).
Something needed to change.
- a dedicated area — preferably IN THE SCHOOLROOM — where we could come together for 30 minutes first thing in the morning to start the school day and go over the day’s activities. Also a place where the little ‘uns could play while we “schooled.”
- at least two bookshelf-y storage areas; one for everyday reference books and those germane to current science and history topics, and one for a rotation of library books and other books I wanted to be sure we read.
- an area or a box that could be a holding cell for a week’s worth of puzzles, games, crafts, etc. that I wanted to be sure we actually did!
How I was going to accomplish this, I had no idea!
But then, one weekend Mr. Wordplay took some of the more boisterous children (read: the boys) on an out-of-town adventure. I put the baby down for a nice long nap, ordered a pizza, and proceeded to
destroy rearrange the schoolroom.
Actually, I should back up. My first order of business was to visit the local Habitat for Humanity Reuse Store. LOVE THAT PLACE. For $2 I took home an old shutter and some wood flooring. The shutter, I realized, would be perfect to display books (confession: if I can’t see the books, I’m going to forget we have them). So the shutter became a very cool front-facing bookcase. For the sign above it I painted the piece of flooring and nailed it to the shutter. Voila.
The second piece of the puzzle was how to display/organize the remaining books. If this shutter-bookcase was going to hold the random books we wanted to read during a given week, I still needed someplace to hold 1) our reference books, and 2) a box for the week’s activities, like puzzles.
Enter some crates I found at A. C. Moore. They were a $15 investment, which brought the total to about $17. After painting them, I nailed them into formation. The bottom right shelf holds our reference books (history, science, and books about whatever topic we are studying). To the left is the activities box. Above it are chapter books being read by the older kids (or that I would LIKE them to read). Immediately this started to cut down on the clutter of library books and chapter books that people read and then leave lying anywhere.
The fourth shelf is the piece de resistance. It is home now to either a poem or artwork that rotates every week.
The best part is, it works! We actually gather every morning, go over the day, read our science and history books, and go over the poem or artwork while the littler ones play nearby.
Somewhere in the past, the 2009 me is smiling at our little reading corner.
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