Ambleside Blog

Pedal Faster?

It was the end of the day on Friday and we had just finished school.  I had worked hard all week and was mentally spent.  Fortunately, my housekeeper was there so I asked her if she didn’t mind if I left the children at home (to play quietly) while I went to exercise for an hour.  Thankfully, that all worked out, so off to the gym I went.

Driving in the car by myself, listening to my music of choice was nice.  Then, when I got to the gym I was looking forward to plugging in my ipod and hitting it hard with cardio for 30 min.  (I am still trying to work off the 5 lbs. I gained on a vacation in February.)  I situated myself on a Precor machine.  I even found one available outside and it was a beautiful day.  Things were all going well until I went to plug in my ipod and realized that instead of bringing the earphones, I accidentally picked up my husband’s ear bud for his phone.  Ugggh!  There went my music time and part of my motivation to stay on one of those “torture” machines for a full 30 minutes.  But, no, I was going to persevere!  I decided I was going to do my full 30 minutes and reflect on my own life.  This sounded good and I was glad that I wasn’t inside where I would have been bombarded by televisions.  At least outside, with the fresh air, I could think. 

The other day I read a blog by David Murray entitled, God’s Been Hunting Me Down (see it at http://headhearthand.posterous.com/gods-been-hunting-me-down).  This blog hit home with me in many ways as I am a very productive person.  I have always been a doer and as a result have been able to accomplish and succeed and many things in life.  Although, I realize that this is a God-given strength, but just like any virtue, it can be my vice too.  One of the points he made in his article was to “slow down”.  He resolved to eat slower, drive slower, and just live at a slower pace.  With homeschooling three children, and one child that seems to operate on fast-forward, this was very appealing.  I would love to slow down.  I would love to have more margin time.  I would love to have more time like right now …to just think.  (Okay true, I was on the cardio machine.)

I know that life needs balance and the only person who is going to give that balance to my life, is me.  The only way I will be able to slow down is to say “no” to people, to activities, and to opportunities.  However, I have to be cautious not to fall into the foolishness of extremes.  This doesn’t mean I have say no to everything, but rather insure that the doing in my life is what I want (or ought) to be doing.  I only have so much time.  I need to choose wisely, not just try to pile on more and then work harder.  I need to make rest and refreshment a priority.  That is the only way I can live slower.  Then, what I do, I will do well.  To me that is much better than trying to do more.  I am always telling my children to slow down their reading, writing or piano playing so that they can do it well.  I could learn from my own advice.

After this lovely time of reflection I looked down and realized I had finished my 30 minutes.  I began to slow down to get off the machine and when I did I looked at the display.  It was blinking adamantly “PEDAL FASTER”.  I looked at the machine and said out loud, “NO”.  Then I got off.

Approaching Summer

We know that the Will acts upon ideas; that ideas are presented to the mind in many ways––by books, talk, spiritual influences; that, to let ourselves be moved by a mere suggestion is an act of allowance and not of will; that an act of will is not the act of a single power… but an impulse that gathers force from Reason, Conscience, Affection; that, having come to a head by degrees, its operations also are regular and successive, going through the stages of intention, purpose, resolution; and that, when we are called upon for acts of will about small matters, such as going here or there, buying this or that, we simply fall back upon the principles or the opinions which Will has slowly accumulated for our guidance.(Charlotte Mason, Ourselves)

With reference to summertime, I think upon “will” and these “small matters”. What reasons and affections are we prepared to cultivate for these ten to twelve weeks of children’s summertime? What vision, principles and desires have the children gathered? And, what vision, principles and desires will be cultivated?

We all accumulate these, some more deliberately than others. For some, summer is a time for jobs, camps, gardening, and catching up on reading. Others oppose such structured times and look forward to more “free time”, for sleeping in and staying up late, for vacationing at the lake or beach, for movie marathons or hanging out with friends.

How can one make sure that these ten to twelve weeks are not spent “moved by a mere suggestion”, that every day is not open to whatever captures us through media, feeling, or impulse?  In a culture of clamor, thinking of summertime is another opportunity to bind our behavior to our ideals. What kind of person do I want to be or what kinds of persons do I want my children to be? What will nourish us to be self-respecting, contributing, God fearing persons during these days of summer?

Behold the Face of Christ

The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. [1]

This week in which many followers of Jesus reflect upon His betrayal, death and resurrection…

We are invited to contemplate; how the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. 'Can you imagine with what a face our Lord looked upon Peter, who had thrice denied Him, after confidently affirming that he would go with Him to death? Would that that face would shine upon us with whatever reproach when we in word or deed deny Him, that so we too may remember and weep.' How the heart rises to such teaching as this––the simple presentation of Christ as He walked among men. Well did our Lord say, 'I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.' The pity of it is that He, the altogether lovely, is so seldom lifted up to our adoring gaze. Perhaps, when our teachers invite us to behold the face of Christ, we shall learn the full interpretation of that profound word. He will draw all men, because it is not possible for any human soul to resist the divine loveliness once it is fairly and fully presented to his vision.[2]

We often interface with the Gospels, not beholding the face of Christ, but the behavior of humankind. This philosophy keeps us on the descending path. As teachers, we need to change our gaze. And in turn our students will see what we see, ascend and live. What might this Holy Week look like if we contemplated the Adorable One?


[1] Gospel of Luke, 22:61-62 (ESV)
[2] Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, p. 138

Daffodils Make Me Happy.

I planned a field study to the Botanical Gardens. We would sit amongst the daffodils, read Wordsworth, and King would sketch.

It sounded so perfect.

However, as so often happens, a fresh new setting led to fresh new distractions; and poetry pushed beyond the most literal ("Daffodils make him happy.") was merely frustration.

"I don't KNOW what he's talking about! ...Daffodils?"

I wish I had left it at that.

"Yes, daffodils make him happy. Now, let's get out the sketchbook and get to know one for yourself."

Surely there was more to the poem, but it wasn't mine to give. I pushed too hard, explained to much, and as a result King began to loathe my words, my questions, and perhaps even the poem itself. Even with all my good intentions, I had achieved the exact opposite result from the one I wanted.

One of my favorite things about Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education is that she rightly places all inspiration and knowledge in the hands of the Divine Teacher. I may put King in the presence of daffodils, and place Wordsworth before him, but I cannot force him to "drink" the ideas therein. I must quietly stand aside and let God reveal what He will in His own time and in His own way.

For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him. Isaiah 28:26

Reckoning with a Child's "Reason"

We should teach children not to 'lean' (too confidently) 'unto their own understanding,' because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration of mathematical truth and of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide, but in the second it is not always a safe one, for whether that initial idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.

Therefore children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of initial ideas. To help them in this choice we should give them principles of conduct and a wide range of the knowledge fitted for them.[1] 

The other day, I was talking to a boy that was out of sorts with his teacher. She had taken his watch away because he was playing with it. He went on to say, “This isn’t fair, another boy was playing with his watch, and nothing happened to him. The teacher is always…”

I listened and then agreed with him that life is indeed unfair. Then, I asked a question, “Do you know why the teacher did not speak to the other boy?”

“No”, he replied.

I said, “Because she did not see him playing with his watch, she saw you.” And then I gave him another idea. “You have been hurt before by unfairness. It hurts doubly much, to be hurt in the same way over and over again. How about letting go of the initial hurt and responding as if you were not hurt at all.”

After all, is this not what "growing up" is about – leaving the childish things (hurts) behind?


[1] Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 9.

 

The Authority of Parents and Teachers

Authority is neither harsh nor indulgent. She is gentle and easy to be entreated in all matters immaterial, just because she is immovable in matters of real importance; for these, there is always a fixed principle. It does not, for example, rest with parents and teachers to dally with questions affecting either the health or the duty of their children. They have no authority to allow to children indulgences––in too many sweetmeats, for example––or in habits which are prejudicial to health; nor to let them off from any plain duty of obedience, courtesy, reverence, or work. Authority is alert; she knows all that is going on and is aware of tendencies. She fulfills the apostolic precept––"He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence." But she is strong enough to fulfill that other precept also, "He that showeth mercy, let him do it with cheerfulness"; timely clemency, timely yielding, is a great secret of strong government. [1]

Charlotte Mason gives us a picture of authority in balance. It is up to us to distinguish between those matters that are of real importance and those that are immaterial, holding firm on the former and being flexible in the latter. (We are the adults and this is what adults do). Yet, as we seek to make such distinctions, occasionally the children “have right on their side: a claim may be made or an injunction resisted, and the children are in opposition to parent or teacher. It is well for the latter to get the habit of swiftly and imperceptibly reviewing the situation; possibly, the children may be in the right, and the parent may gather up his wits in time to yield the point graciously.”[2] In so doing, parent or teacher gains the child’s love and loyalty.

[1] Mason, School Education, 17.
[2] Ibid.

 

Is Tough Parenting the Answer?

In the January 20 edition of Time Magazine, there appeared an article asking this question. The article is a response to Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Time’s article, and presumably the book, leave one wondering: Is it good parenting to forbid your daughter’s attendance at slumber parties, to forbid computer games, and to make her sit at a piano for five plus hours (until she gets it right)?

Good parenting, like good teaching begins with the knowledge that children are born persons. They bear the very image of God. As such, every child must be loved, cherished and treated respectfully.

Children are born “with a sense of may and must not, of right and wrong.”[1] None-the-less, they are by nature often weak and ignorant, selfish and lazy. Thus, they must not be left to their nature. Sadly, “this is precisely what half the parents in the world, and three-fourths of the teachers, are content to do…

Well aware of our stance towards them, children “are always playing a game – half of chance, half of skill; they are trying how far they can go, how much of the management of their own lives they can get for the taking, and how much they must leave in the hands of the stronger powers.” 

It is the duty of parents to be the “stronger power”, to support each child in doing what she “ought”, especially when she lacks a self-compelling will.  In doing so, a “stronger power” exhibits the strength of a peaceful and fixed presence. There is no need for anxious invocations, name-calling, lectures or threats. At times, this means peacefully sitting on a piano bench beside the child, while she repeats each measure again and again. At other times, it requires overseeing from afar. In either case, the child must reckon with the presence of duty and must.

Growing children to maturity requires great effort from both directions – that of the parent and that of the child. On any given day, at any given time, it may not be easy. This is tough parenting! It is the office of parenting. Parents are compelled by duty to bring up every child to be his or her best.


[1] Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 14.
[2] Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 102.
[3] Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 31.

The Books We Read

I am convinced now more than ever that the books we read are of utmost importance and the choosing of texts for our children, and ourselves, is a task to be done with great care.  Miss Mason talks about the importance of the books we read and how the mind, as a living organism, is fed entirely on the ideas from well-chosen texts.  It is these ideas from our books that shape us and grow us into who we are.

I recently attended an educational seminar that took place in a public school classroom.  After becoming accustomed to the texts used in our homeschool and the texts used in the Ambleside schools, I was very surprised to see the lack of quality literature in this public school classroom.  The books on display in the 4th grade class were mostly picture books.  One picture book that I looked at was about two iguanas that lived in the desert and were buddies.  The cover had a drawing of two iguanas on the front “high fiveing” each other.  There were also some random picture books about California history and shoved into each child’s desk was their literature book, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid!  Really, this book is considered literature?  Why, we are reading Black Beauty for literature.

I can be a bit naïve at times, but I don’t understand why in the world a class would be reading The Diary of a Wimpy Kid when they could just as easily be reading Black Beauty, or something of that nature.  We recently finished Little Maid of Old Connecticut and for Kindergarten Literature we are currently reading N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims.  My older daughter reads all the colors of the Fairy Books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Little Women, to name a few and my son is on the 4th book of the Little House on the Prairie series, On the Banks of Plum Creek.  Even my youngest has been enjoying the original Pinnochio.  I don’t say this to brag about the books my children are reading but, rather to point out that these kinds books are just as easily purchased as any other, although a bit harder to find at the bookstore.

It was shocking to me to see a classroom devoid of good quality books.  At the seminar, I began to look up at a wall that displayed individual construction paper stars with a photo of each child in the class. I counted the stars with photos and there were 33 children to one teacher.  Each one of these children is a person who desperately needs to be fed the nutrients made for the soul by way of excellent texts.  These are 33 children that are not receiving life-giving ideas.  As parents and teachers, don’t we owe this to our children?  My heart went out to all these children and I began to feel quite sad for them.  No wonder kids act up, hate school or get into trouble.  I think that I would too if I had to spend 7 hours or more in a classroom every day with 32 other children and little to no living ideas in the books I was reading.  There would be little to nothing to inspire me each day.

In contrast, I find that the books we read and the things we study in our homeschool are so life giving and I know I am getting the education that I never received as a child in teaching my own children.  My children and I delight in so much of the material that we read and the texts that we use.  They cause all of us to think about ideas, ponder our convictions, open our minds and grow into more of a person.  I grow daily through the well-chosen texts that we use and I therefore look forward to each school day as much as my children.

The books we read matter so much in our own lives and in the lives of our children.  As a parent I am obliged to make sure that my children have an assortment of quality books both in their schooling and their personal reading.  These books should be books that cause thought, contemplation and lift us up to a higher level. We all need a steady diet of books that grow us and mature us into caring beings and make us more of a person.  Amen to a well-chosen book. 

Liberty or License

The anarchist, the man who claims to live without rule, to be a law unto himself, is in reality the slave to certain illogical formulae, … In like manner, the mother does not always perceive that, when she gives her child leave to do things forbidden, to sit up half an hour beyond his bed-time, not to do geography or Latin because he hates that subject, to have a second or third helping because he likes the pudding, she is taking from the child the wide liberty of impersonal law and imposing upon him her own ordering, which is, in the last resort, the child’s will.  It is he who is bending his mother as that proverbial twig is bent, … The child who has learned that, by persistent demands, he can get leave to do what he will, and have what he likes, whether he do so by means of stormy outcries or by his bewitching, wheedling ways, becomes the most pitiable of all slaves, the slave to chance desires; he will live to say with the poet:

“Me this unchartered freedom tires’
I feel the weight of chance desires.”  

Children are persons, and thus children must have liberty.  However, all too often parents and teachers confuse liberty with license. While it is true that some parents or teachers are rigid and controlling, the predominant flaw in relationships with children is license.  Often, the adult modus operandi is to allow the child “to do what he will and have what he likes.” We fail to realize that to raise a child upon this principle is to make him “the most pitiable of all slaves, the slave to chance desires.”

While liberty is a deeply personal thing, it is not an autonomous thing. Liberty must be grounded in something outside of oneself or it will degenerate into slavery to self -be it my own self or the self of another. Tyrants and rebels are alike - self, rather than “impersonal law” rules each of them.

We have all lived this way, slaves to chance desire – one more movie, one more dessert; leave off the exercise, the prayer, and the budget. It is just too trying, too tempting. We are like the child who stays up too late, avoids studies, and indulges in second or third helpings! For our sake and that of our children, release them from the fetters!

Setting Up A Home School Room

(From a former Ambleside Home School mom)

Over the years, I have learned some essentials to successfully setting up an efficient and peaceful home schoolroom.  When I initially started homeschooling my oldest daughter, we worked on the dining room table and I read to her on the sofa.  Next, after I was fully schooling two and then three children, we built a separate schoolroom adjacent to our garage.  We then moved to a different house and I schooled in one of the front rooms.  It didn't have a door but it was a separate room.  We have since converted our third car garage stall into a very nice schoolroom.  This is where we currently school.

Miss Mason talks much about the importance of the environment in education.  In fact she says that the child's environment is a full one-third of their education and the home schoolroom plays a significant part of this environment.  It has been important for me to consider carefully the best environment in which my children learn.  I do acknowledge that they learn much outside of the classroom at home, on field trips, and the like and also there is more to the environment than just the schoolroom itself.  However, we school 5 hours a day, not counting music, which amounts to 25 hours per week in which we are in our schoolroom.  This also doesn't take into account the amount of time I spend lesson planning, typically 3-4 hours per week.  With such a large amount of time devoted to the task of schooling, it is important for both me and the children to put real thought and effort into setting up our schoolroom.

Here are a few of the things I've learned over the years.  I have broken them down to my essentials, the logistics and the nice to haves.

My Essentials:


1.  Good Natural Light.  A bright room with sunshine is a cheerful place to be and an inviting place to learn.  A room that is dark and dreary is hardly a place that I would want to spend 25+ hours a week.  However, I did have to consider window treatments for those rooms that received direct sunlight.

2.  Constant Temperature.  When we built our schoolroom onto the back of our garage in our first house, the heating duct for the room was last on the circuit.  Because of this, the room was quite cold in the winter months.   We used a space heater to remedy the situation but it would get the room so warm that we struggled with getting drowsy because of the heat.  We would then shed the sweaters and turn off the heater only to have the room plunge down to a cold temperature again, too cold to concentrate.  It became a bit of a clothing and heater gymnastics ritual as we were either putting sweaters on or off, or turning off or on the heater.  We don't live in a place where air condition is necessary, especially in the morning hours but, for the winter months and the coolness of the mornings, a constant temperature is a must.

3.  Distraction Free.  I cannot stress enough about the importance of a quiet room. The only way to achieve a quiet room is by making it free of distractions.  I will not allow a phone or television in the room period!  Also, I prefer a door so that noise from the rest of the house can be shut out.   When we used the front room in our home, that didn't have a door, we had other people in the house respect the school hours by being quiet and not walking into the room.  I eliminate rings, dings, and beeps from all the electrical devices as much as possible.  Narration or performing difficult math problems is nearly impossible in a room filled with distractions.  As I want to develop the habit of attention with my children, it is foolish to think that I can do this while allowing a myriad of distractions at the same time.  Obviously, when I had babies and toddlers, they needed to be in the schoolroom during school and at times someone will walk by outside our window, but these are distractions that can be managed and a topic for another blog entry.

4.  Organization.  A well-organized schoolroom is a beautiful thing!  Actually, a well organized anything is beautiful to me. I make it a point to have the supplies that I need neatly organized in a drawer or cabinet.  That way, when I need another pencil or pink eraser I have it.  I keep a small note pad in which I jot down supplies that are out or running low.  Then next time I am at Office Depot I just tear off the top sheet and purchase off my list.  Also, I am careful to make sure that everything is in my schoolroom for a reason.  This is not the "dumping" room for household items that haven't found a home yet.  I adhere to the form follows function rule and it is of utmost importance here.  A schoolroom that is organized is one that is also beautiful.

The Logistics


1.  A chalkboard (or whiteboard).  It didn't take me long to realize that if I wanted to demonstrate anything in math, handwriting or even list terms for the reading, I needed a larger writing space than a slate board or piece of paper.  When I was teaching only one child I was able to work on a piece of paper but as I brought in other children it became necessary to use a chalkboard.  It is easier for all the children to see and I like being able to move about the room.  The children also enjoy coming to the board to demonstrate their work to their siblings.

2.  A table (or desks) for the children.  I have only three children therefore we are able to use one rectangular table.  They each sit on a side while the open end faces the blackboard.  This table is great because it has two drawers, one on each end.  This gives us extra space for supplies.  To make sure they are able to sit comfortably we purchased adjustable Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs for each of them.  These are great!  I highly recommend them.  They are sturdy, well made chairs that adjust from baby to adult.  That way each of my children have the correct height for their chair in relation to the table and their feet are secure on a platform, not dangling.  This is really important for posture and handwriting as well as attention.  Also, everyone is able to sit at the same table, which is nice for working together on projects, sharing books or building with Froebel.  With homeschooling I teach different ages, thus different sizes.  These chairs put everyone on the same level.  It's good for my posture too as I don't have to bend way down to help them with their work.

3.  Bookshelves.  I need at least eight feet of open bookshelf space to store the current semester books, Froebel materials, handicrafts, notebooks, nature journals, paints, etc.  I store the additional material, manuals, and other stuff not currently in use, in closed cabinets.  I saw at the Ambleside School in Fredericksburg use beautiful wood chests and cabinets to store their books and materials.  This was very attractive and functional.  I have used both stand-alone bookcases and built-in bookshelves.  Any configuration works as long as I have enough feet of shelves.

4.  Reading area.  I have used the floor and a small sofa and chairs grouped together in a circle for reading.  Usually, when we are reading literature, poetry or read aloud, I move the children to this area.  It is just a few feet from their table but provides a nice change of place.  I did see at the Ambleside School in Virginia that in one of the classrooms they didn't have space for this and the children were quite content with sitting at their desks for all subjects.  I personally prefer to have the space to move the children from reading area to table and then back again when changing between disciplinary and inspirational subjects.  It seems to do us all good to move throughout the subjects, even if it is just a couple of feet.

5.  Floor space.  I like to have a small area for floor work.  For example during math my youngest child works on the floor with her manipulatives while the older two work arithmetic problems at the table.  Also, we sit at the floor for Froebel and nature study sometimes too.  This space doesn't have to be big just big enough to all sit with a bit of room to move around.  For us, it is the space in between the chairs in our reading area.

6.  Maps.  I like to have a world map, U.S. map and globe in the schoolroom.  Before we read in our texts we always locate the places on the map.  I use atlases for more detailed geography but I like to give the children a sense of where in the world we are reading before each lesson.  I have also noticed how frequently the children go to the maps and study them on their own simply because they are visible.  I put the maps on eye level for the children.  I have found that the bigger the better for the maps.  This always depended on how much wall space I have. 

7.  Art.  I reserve an area on a wall to hang prints from the Artist we are studying.  I usually display at least 3 different prints of 8x10 size.  I am in the process or ordering a bulletin board for this area but for now I just pin the prints to the wall.

8.  CD Player.  I use my computer to play music as it has a built-in CD player.  But, it is important to have a CD player of some type that stays in the schoolroom.  I play classical music frequently throughout the day during Nature Study, Artist reproductions, Handicrafts and transcription and of course we need it for Composer Study.

9.  Flag.  We start every day with a Hymn, Prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance.  I bought a mid-sized American flag and flag holder and have it on the wall.

10.  Tabs. I use the Post-It little tabs to mark where we are in our reading, workbooks and my teacher's manuals.  The children use them as well to mark their books.  This saves a lot of time looking for the last page or paragraph in which we left off during the last reading.  I also keep rulers handy for reading too as this helps younger readers to stay on the line and makes it a bit easier for them.

11.  Clutter Free.  I try to keep all horizontal surfaces organized and clutter free.  This makes for a visually clean and comfortable room to work.  I have learned that a room filled with clutter or too much stuff is visually distracting and can cause negative emotional responses to those in the room.  Therefore, I am careful not to bring in items that just add visual clutter.  Some things like plants or art are there for a purpose, beauty.  Other items that clutter the space would be better somewhere other than the schoolroom.

My Nice-to-Haves


1.  Color on the walls.  I have had some training in interior design and because of this I understand a little about color psychology.  Basically, color effects our ability to carry out specific tasks, and it evokes certain emotions.  Either way color has an effect on us in our environment.  There is much documented research to this effect.  But, for the purpose of this discussion, good colors to paint schoolroom walls are:  warm, calming tones in lighter hues.  Avoid stark white, red, bold primary colors, the contrast of black and white and dark colors which all cause emotional responses counterproductive to learning.  Some even lower the I.Q.  I have chosen a warm cream yellow in my current schoolroom because it is cheerful, warm, inviting and yellow helps with memory.

2.  Drawers.  This is where I keep my general office supplies.  When I had one for each child, it was an area that they each kept their personal notebooks, ruler and pencils.  Now, I just group those supplies together since we don't have individual drawers for each child.

3.  Computer.  I find my computer useful for Foreign Language, the Dictionary and Pictures.  Obviously, I use it with restrictions and caution since it is in an environment with children.  I do have to make a point to check my email only at break or when school is over.  I have had to discipline myself from checking while the children are working on math problems or writing.  This is not a good habit to get into and I think it communicates a lack of respect to my children.  My children need me to be fully present during school, not checking my email or surfing the web.

4.  Bose Noise Canceling Headphones.  I have found these little (but expensive) ear phones to be helpful for math, grammar or anytime the children are working at the same time on different levels.  For example, in math I may be instructing one of my children while another is working problems and the other is counting aloud manipulatives.  The two independent working children wear them while the one I am instructing is listening to me, hopefully.  If I switch to helping another child, I just pick off the earphones from one child and place them on the other.  Kind of funny, but they don't mind.  We have two of these noise canceling headphones for 3 children, because one child can always work without them.  These earphones really have helped my children’s concentration during these subjects.

5.  Metal Chalk Holder.  A friend gave me one of these and I really like it.  No more writing with teeny tiny chalk.

6.  Microscope.  Binoculars. Magnifying glass.  These are great and help mostly in nature study and science.  I am sure we will be able to use them more extensively in the upper grades as well.

7.  Piano or keyboard.   We have had our piano in the schoolroom before.  When we open our school day with our Hymn, one of my children would play the accompaniment.  This was really sweet.  Our piano is in the living room now so we sing our Hymn in the schoolroom with the recorded piano accompaniment.  My preference would be to have the piano or at least a keyboard in the schoolroom for singing but we don't have the space for it.

These are the items I consider when setting up a home schoolroom.  This is such a precious and important place in our home and one that deserves much thought in setting up.  There are several factors that go into making our schoolroom efficient and peaceful.  However, I think all the effort it takes to set up this room is definitely worth it.  Our schoolroom should always be a room where my children and I want to spend a good part of our day, because we do.


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