Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Need Some Help in Texas!


Hope this title isn't too alarming. I don't really need urgent help, just some good advice from all you homeschooling Montessorians out there.

Okay, first the update. Well, we finally closed on the sale of our house in Virginia. So we are officially, homeless. Though this isn't technically true, we do have a roof over our heads, but we don't call it home. After the first sale contract fell through 12 hours before closing, (and we found out from the buyer's title company...not their agent) to have this sale close is a huge weight off our chest.

So now, until our purchase house in Texas closes, we are waiting it out in our small four-room rental with a dishwasher that leaks, lights that come on and off at will, a thermostat that keeps on resetting itself to 70 degrees-freezing, and wood roaches that seem to like the freezing temps inside. Hopefully after we sign we'll be able to get our storage cubes delivered quickly, get past an in-town board meeting, and have appliances delivered promptly so that we can get settled, finally.

Now, onto the reason I need some help. We will have a dedicated space in the new house for our homeschool environment. (A homeschool space was on our house-hunting must-have list.) It will be a fraction of the size, perhaps half, of the space that we had in Virginia. There will be no plumbing and no direct access to an outdoor area. There is a wall with windows on one short side of the rectangle space and this faces north. The classroom is on the second level and the space has rather long shaggy carpeting. (Not really "shag" but it is far from that short stuff you put down in office suites.) There is a short wall on one side (the door side, not the window side) that "overlooks" the stairwell.

Because this classroom is much smaller than our last space, I am seeking ideas from any readers out there about how to organize a small space for multiple Montessori levels. (I have a first year primary and a first and second year elementary.) How do you organize your small space? What do you have out, what do you pack away? What kind of shelving, cabinets, and furniture do you use?

If you are able, would you please leave in the comments section any suggestions about how to fit it all into such a tight space? (I am sorry I don't have dimensions. But I am thinking 15' x 9' maybe??)  If you have written about this topic on your blog, or read someone else's post on their blog, or seen pictures on Pinterest, would you mind leaving those links in the comments too? 

The other topic I am seeking help with is the matter of storage. Texas doesn't believe in basements. (Well the limestone beneath central Texas doesn't believe in basements or in-ground pools.) And we are spending only a modest amount on this first house feeling that we are probably going to move AGAIN in a few years. So, at this point, we have limited closet space as well. How do you organize all your Montessori materials so that you have a prayer knowing what you have, what you don't have and what you need? (And maybe where it is located.) Again, if you are able, would you mind leaving a link in the comments to any posts or sources of unfounded inspiration on the matter of storage? I think I am going to need all the help I can get folks.

Thank you in advance for any and all advice. It took a ton of time to set up our last classroom and I never thought in a million years that I'd have to take it all down one year later and move it half-way across the country to a state where wood roaches grow to the length of your middle finger. I am sure we'll get to say'n "y'all" soon enough, but I don't think I'll be getting used to those horrific roaches.

11 comments:

  1. This can be done I promise! We have moved a lot with varying levels of space. At one point we had a room no larger than a walk in closet and we had to bring all of our materials into another space to work. If you click on the homeschool tab and then on environment you should find old pictures of each space, although I haven't always been great about tagging, so it hey might not all be there. Best advice I can give is to think like you are starting over. You were super spoiled to start Montessori homeschooling with a fairly complete set of materials. Most people start small and build from there. Look at if there are subjects you can modify your approach slightly to need less/different materials. Clarify your own philosophy and prioritize from there. I've written lots and the difference between Montessori philosophy and Montessori materials. By clarifying your philosophy you will be able to work down your materials list and create new lessons and skip other lessons that will allow you to reduce the number of materials you need. In the end your space may look and run less like a Montessori school, but it will be a more authentic homeschool for all of you! Be patient with yourself that you may not hit it out of the park the first try. Modify and adjust and be willing to think outside the box.

    Good luck!

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    1. I forgot I got rid of my tabs, click on the Montessori picture in the sidebar and then click on environment.

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    2. Oh goodness that sounds SCARY!! :) (Paring down everything I mean.) But thank you so much for the advice! I can't wait to take a peek at your photos! Thank you.

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  2. And there is one benefit to sticking with the keys ;) No superfluous lessons, but certainly ones that you can modify materials needs.

    Use the center of your space as well, such as low shelving back to back. Have taller shelves against walls and use the higher shelves for rotating down.

    We removed the doors from my son's bedroom closet when it was the primary school room, using the closet space for the puzzle maps and other bulky items. Now our living room closet holds the impressionistic charts (I have the classroom size versions from training), but I kept the doors on.

    Aim for those key materials and get research going, so that the library and outings are a good part of your experience too.

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  3. You can do it because your space sounds exactly like mine! Even the shaggy carpet...lol. We have one low wall for the stairs and a window wall and our space is approx 9x12. One half is elementary and one half is primary. We own pretty much all materials, even some bells (not the fancy ones like you!) We use IKEA Billy Bookcases that are about 7ft tall. Upper half and top stores unused materials and lower half stores current materials. Only things stored elsewhere is Hierarchical Materials (under stairwell). Low wall shelving is shoe shelves double stacked for primary stuff. One bookcase with books is shared for everyone and one bookcase for practical life stuff is shared as well. I have 1 shelf for elem. math/geom, 1 for elem. language, 1 for biology/geog and room to grow for history. I also have 1 for primary language, 1 for primary math and the large bead cabinet. Small shoe shelves hold all sensorial/geo cabinet/maps/leaf cabinet/bells. We also have 3 tables and floor space for rug works. Like Jessica said...I only have room for the keys and that is it! I've had to get rid of stuff I previously bought thinking it was core stuff and turns out it wasn't. But everything in Jessica's albums have fit so far. I have space to setup tone bars as well, although I haven't yet but I haven't maxed out the space yet :). You can do it! You'll see my setup soon! Probably before I can get pictures up. Just wanted to let you know it is doable! :)

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  4. Oh and just had to laugh at your comments on the roaches...yes they are huge! But at least we are on the side that doesn't have scorpions! At least I've been hear since 1st grade and have yet to see one :).

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  5. "here"...I've been "here" since 1st grade...lol. I gotta go to bed!

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  6. Just had a thought - for those who think "ok, so small space and we focus on the keys, but when do the children explore their interests? and all THOSE materials?" Those materials, if there is not enough room in the school area, can be stored elsewhere in the home. My son has a fascination with Legos (hence his screen name: Legoboy) - these are kept NOT with school items, even when he uses them in a very school-like way (when looking at engineering, architecture, building structures, etc.). Perhaps not the best example, but the one most prevalent in my home ;)

    Electrical components, when children get into wanting to work with electricity - I prefer to keep this sort of material separate from all else entirely so that the little pieces have a proper, safe place with minimal chance to slip away into other materials.

    Many families like to have a solar system model on hand - this could be kept in the living room or elsewhere as a functional decoration to be utilized but also enjoyed. Etc.

    :)

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    1. Oh yes good point. We keep most of our science type supplies downstairs in a closet. The magnifying glasses and such are there because our backyard doors are right there and that is where we do *most* of our outdoor exploring (we also have a dry creek behind us). So if they need to use a magnifying glass or dissection tools, we just bring the tray of that stuff upstairs along with our specimen which was most likely retrieved from the backyard or behind us. Plus most of the science stuff is for elementary and those kids can go grab what they need when they need it unlike the 4 year old. It would be harder and more frustrating for her to have to go up and down the stairs to get stuff for class so I keep all primary stuff in the classroom.

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  8. I think the trick is to think outside the box. I think it is possible; but it depends on what is important to you and your family. I just did a room change, and I can't recommend it enough!

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