Monday, January 12, 2015

How to homeschool with IKEA

Very recent and insanely huge growth spurts of all kinds...organizational, minimalist, physical...led to us doing some much-needed updating to our classroom finally, FINALLY. I have plotted and bargained and saved and researched and finally the day is here! We are humbled and grateful to have what we need to function at our best at last.

We kept right on growing and discovered something(s) valuable in the process.

1. Working in your PJs is underrated and can be quite productive.

2. Little Miss is very handy; this realization fed her independence, pride in her work, and her self-confidence. It also encouraged me to try more with her.

3. IKEA is so easy, even a kid can do it.

4. I can give myself a break by splitting the amount of work I think I MUST do, but that the kids can really do and also benefit.

My ongoing paradox: I didn't want to lose a day of homechooling in favor of updating our classroom  but it needed to be done or else no place to have school. Other days it's laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, you know how it goes- everything else competes with schooling and you can't do one without the other being done, round and round and round she goes....So as per usual, I formulated a quick plan to have it all by ignoring the line we've all been trained to draw between life and learning, as I love to do so much. Read on!

How to homeschool with IKEA (I feel another list coming on, brace yourself...):

1. Avoid short tempers and stretch out everyone's patience because being snippy and impatient will kill the fun dead and no one will be in the mood for anything cool. Before you start, do this: 
     a. Start early in the day before everyone gets cranky for craving a nap. This includes YOU. Yes, YOU.
     b. It should be assumed that if you are avoiding the cranky, all involved should have eaten well in preparation for this fun time you'll spend connecting.
     c. Use this as one-on-one time with ONE child (redundant?); everyone will be calmer, I swear it. We had several pieces to assemble so I was able to work on one with each child all by themselves. If you only have one piece, split the project up into sections and call the kids in one at a time for a section to work at it with you. The kids who aren't working should be doing something fun and cool in another room. Our alternative activity was the Wii. Use your best judgement.
    d. DO THIS TOGETHER. I still have some Type A remnants where Motherhood failed to beat me into full submission and it has taken practice and lots of resulting kid-smiles as positive reinforcement for me to sit back and LET THEM DO IT. If it's slow-going, so what? They're learning. They're building confidence. They're loving independence. And you giving them the space to work and figure it out makes them secure and comfortable in their own skin.
     e. Laugh at the hilarious instruction pictures together and ask the kids questions to help them figure out what's what on the instruction sheet, don't just figure it out for them. More about that later.

2. Find or clear out an open, comfortable-on-your-knees place to work. A rug definitely works, or even better, spread out that cardboard box packaging and make it do double-duty.

3. Git yer tools. Usually, the ingenious thinkers behind IKEA will take it easy on you and keep this simple. You'll need a screwdriver with changeable bits (luxury) or one Phillips and one flat head (regular folks) and a hammer/mallet, and  that's pretty much it.

4. Count out and account for all your hardware and parts. DON'T skip this step. We demonstrated the real-life benefits/application of knowing how to count at a glance (where you can recognize three or five or ten of something, for example, without actually counting) and skip-count by 2's. They also learned the names and functions of all the hardware and while we're not winning any cool points for actual Shop-speak, we might do alright if no one digs too deeply.

5. Get to it! We worked on visual memory and finding differences and similarities between images and real objects. I reminded them of the picture games they like to play where they circle what's wrong or what's different between two pictures. You definitely have to rely on this skill to read the pictures. On top of that, knowing how to read the illustrations is very important, as is attention to detail. Owly and Wormy books are great for this and I even enjoy the mystery in putting the story together the right way. In my book (NPI), you're never too old.

6. Move in! Settle into your new furniture- fill it with only what's needed and watch everyone reap the benefits of living an organized life. If you haven't yet, start now practicing getting rid of clutter that not only clogs up our physical spaces, but our minds as well.

We sat down to have school that afternoon, deeply sated and with smiles on our faces. It was awesome.


INSPIRATION: I stalked this site for over a year after finding it last year on Google, because I loved this setup. We didn't do exactly the same thing because not all of this worked for our family, but it was very instrumental in choosing our setup. She did not, however inspire my choice of blog address, but great minds!

My friend CH was majorly instrumental also as my silent, mental cheerleader in helping me tackle clutter and destroy that feeling of being overwhelmed by it, so SHOUT OUT to her for being an awesome, inspiring person. You have made my life better in so many ways. XOXOX

PICTURES: I'm really bad with this, but if I can get some loaded of the finished product, I definitely will. Our room is still in need of some finishing and once it's done, I'll try. Okay more than try. But let's be serious, I"m a mom and a homeschooler, anything could happen.