Our own little sanctuary of learning

I remember the first time I stepped into a Waldorf classroom. I was visiting a Kindergarten class, twenty or so of the most delightful little beings I had ever laid eyes on, all sitting around a long table coloring with square crayons. My best friend Cie was their teacher. She had invited me to visit for my birthday; she knew I would love it. At snack the children sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Some of them colored pictures for me. All of them were open and affectionate as they wished me, a relative stranger, happiness. I remember telling my mother at the time, “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before . . . the children were playing, Cie started singing a song about a dusty gnome and they all started cleaning up!”

Entering that classroom was like walking into a magical rosy world flooded with natural light. It embraced the children, held them in safety as they carried out the activities of their day. I was enchanted. Still am . . . every time I visit a Waldorf school. And it’s not just the aesthetic beauty that captivates me. It’s that every brushstroke, every handmade toy, every carved block bears the mark of purpose and intention. Everything is placed in the room with care and with consideration of the impact it will have on a child’s senses. There is a meditative quality about the classrooms; they are like little sanctuaries of learning. I wanted this for my girls too.

So this summer my husband and I created it.

We live in a pretty small ranch-style house. It is a cozy home, with plenty of space for all of us. But this summer, when I decided that we needed a “homeschooling room” for our main lesson work, I had to figure out how to empty out my study in order to make room enough for new bookshelves, a table, a story chair and a large blackboard. It wasn’t easy. The first thing I had to do was move the existing bookshelves (four floor to ceiling models) into our living room. I did this all by myself one morning while Toph was out. (I’m not very good at waiting.) Yep, all four bookshelves and the whole library of over-sized books to boot. Did I mention that I have degrees in art history?

Over the course of the summer Toph built the furniture. I was in heaven! Solid wood, custom-made furniture crafted with a perfectionist’s eye to detail. How’s that for purpose and intention? It was more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed. After the furniture was built, Toph made all kinds of lovely classroom accessories . . . blackboards, paint jar holders, a drying rack for our painting boards. All I had to do was say, “Oh, I saw this on-line. Think you could make it?” I sewed curtains of plant-dyed silk, made a weather tree weaving to hang on the wall, framed prints and pressed flowers. And the best thing of all . . . the girls watched it all come to life.

And now we get to enjoy it every day.

I know that a lot of people don’t like the idea of having a separate room for home learning. They believe that it should be integrated into the family’s daily life. To some extent, I agree. But for us, a “homeschooling room” really works. When the girls enter it in the morning it’s clear what will take place. I like the tone it sets. I like that everything has a place, and that at the end of a night of preparation, when I flick off the light, I can set my own intention, make a mental note of our purpose for the next day of learning.

6 Responses to “Our own little sanctuary of learning”

  1. anhyzer Says:

    Boy, that sure is some handsome furniture in your homeschooling room! 😉 Great blog. Congrats on taking the time to document the journey.

  2. mom Says:

    Your blogg looks great. You always did have a special writing talent. I like your birdie theme. Starling & Chikadee really do have a special mama & daddy. Keep up the wonderful work. Love you.

  3. Tanya Says:

    Learning space is something I have given quite a bit of thought to recently. The past 2 years our main learning area has been in our main living space. I have loved being in this space surrounded by the warmth of the wood stove and the kitchen. However, as my toddler has become more active the broadness of the space has become a bit too much. Up until recently, I never thought I would have a space designed specifically for home education. However our changing needs seem to be calling for it. That is the beauty of learning at home. You can design it ALL to the individual needs of the family and the child/children! So, my plans are underway. Your room is so very inspiring. Both you and Toph (this cracks me up) did a terrific job. Tell Toph that I am going to call him about those chalk boards! I just LOVE them.

  4. lynn Says:

    Love the designs. They are cute.

  5. sarah Says:

    That’s one of the nicest, most soothing homeschoolrooms I’ve ever seen. Your weblog is also beautiful :-)

  6. Kristin Says:

    Hi,

    May you please tell me how you made your blackboard or suggestions for where to purchase one?

    Thank you.

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