Sunday, September 6, 2015

Our Nest: From Schoolroom into Library & Some Thoughts on Learning at Home

{an old picture of our schoolroom}

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
That's what our favorite educator once said.....but some days the air gets thin, and those good habits go veering off the rails, and we fill our days with things that stifle life, not give it.

{when you run out of room for bookshelves....go up!}

When I sit down to write out my plans for the looming school year, I try to keep in mind the things I've learned to be true about teaching my girls at home:

1. The first tool of education is the atmosphere. It is the air we breathe and the shield that protects us from that which would harm us. I don't set up my house in miniature, remove everything that is too advanced, speak in baby talk, or paint my walls in garish colors just because my littlest might like it. Instead, I ask myself if each part of our lives is teaching what I feel should be taught. Is our home comfortable for learning? Do we have access to living books and the best ideas that will feed our minds? Am I continuing my own life education as their mother? Are we curious? thoughtful? hard working? Do we live in a home where minds are stretched? Is learning a part of our everyday life?

{our new bench seat under the window ~ doubles as a bed for visitors!}

2. The second tool of education is discipline. What are our habits? Am I doing the hard work of instilling good habits in my children, or am I just hoping they'll "grow out of" the bad habits and "someday" develop good ones? Are we consistently practicing doing the right things? Once something is a habit, it's like a train on a train track. It's not too hard to keep it going the right direction. Habits are hard......but they make life easy. 
I must be willing to ask myself the difficult questions: do we speak kindly? study passionately? work diligently? do we complain? "forget" to do our assignments? Are we a family that loves each other? Are we striving to live out the gospel? Do we think truth?
As Charlotte put it, "Every day, every hour the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else future character and conduct depend."

{our arts and crafts shelf ~ muffin tins are perfect for holding all the tiny bits and bobs}

{our math manipulatives from Right Start Mathematics}

{a perfect spot to read}

3. The third tool of education is life. I heard it many years ago from a godly man, "Life touches life." Every day I am supposed to be following Christ, and I should be inviting my children to go with me so that one day, they too will choose to follow Him. I knew that to be true about discipleship, but it took a while for me to understand that it applied to the education of my children, too.
But not only my life should be touching their lives. Authors, composers, artists, scientists, geographers, and the Word Himself should all be speaking directly to my children through the use of living books. We feed our minds with ideas that make us think. We eat widely and sumptuously. We feast on the beauty of the masters, whether in music or art or poetry or Shakespeare or the Bible.

{nature study supplies}

{an old desk we had refurbished into a table to fit everybody}

{Mackay LOVES kneading dough.....actually pounding it to death!}

{our nature shelf}

I must also keep in mind why we are doing our schooling this way....
"The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? And about how many orders does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?" 
I'm not planting seeds just for today; I'm planting seeds for a lifetime.

*So pleased to say that we no longer have a classroom....we have a library.
I've always wanted to live in a house with a library. I just didn't realize all I had to do was build one!
This room is a bit tricky to take good pictures in, but I hope you've enjoyed the peeks here and there.
These two photos were our inspiration for our shelves. I'm so very thankful that we have talented carpenters, beautiful wood, and amazing prices here in Ghana!


  1. What a unique idea! You have provided a wonderful place to encourage learning. Hope you have a wonderful school year.

  2. What a lovely post. I need to make some bookshelves like that! I hope you have a great year of homeschooling.

  3. Oh I absolutely love your library! I am reading through A Charlotte Mason Companion right now. It is so very good and inspiring. I am anxious to get settled back home in Fiji so we can dive deeper into learning and doing nature studies.