Learning spaces

by Lilia Efimova on 12 November 2014

My interests in learning and architecture come pretty nice together with homeschooling our kids. It’s fun to observe kids in action and then go along and modify the space around them to support their activities.

When I dived into learning about project-based homeschooling, creating a workspace for the kids was the first thing I picked up. We made a desk a while ago for Alexander in his room, but it’s rarely used, so it was clear that the workspace had to be where the action was – in the middle of our living room.

Living room workspace evolutionOver time I have learnt that with kids the best thing is to go with prototyping: put something in place, observe how they use it and then go a little bit further. In this case we planned to make the table at the same height as our dining table, so chairs could be easily shuffled back and forth. But we saw that our prototype was used a lot while standing, so we ended up with a lower height. Eventually we added a working surface, a white board and storage containers.

It is used – every day. Mainly for drawing, writing, arts and crafts, but occasionally other things, like cooking or performances. It also doesn’t scale – a three of them painting just fit and if I want to join there is no space :)

Lego tableBut it’s not the only space. A huge white board in front of our dining table is used for drawing, playing with letters and hanging items that need attention. A Lego table we made a while ago, trying to contain little Lego pieces away from our youngest. Now it’s used by all three of them. It has storage bins inside, a construction space on top and it can slide under the bed when not in use (which is rarely :)

Kids also have their working places where we do things. Robert’s “man cave” in the garage has a shelf with kids’ instruments and a workbench at kids height, which is used for wood projects or working with limestone.

Self-made sewing deskAs now there is more interest from the kids in sewing and other textile crafts that I do in the attic, there is a learning space “under construction” there. Alexander wanted a desk there, so he had to make it. Looking at him Anna made one as well. I assembled a little sewing kit for Alexander, but I guess I have to make a storage bin for them with supplies and tools that they can use without asking.

I like to experiment with growing things to eat in our garden and of course kids help there a lot. They have kids-sized garden tools for a while, but this year they also asked for their own vegetable garden. So in early spring they’ll have their own space to experiment.

UntitledOf course, learning happens everywhere. It’s just lots of fun to observe how they use the space and to think what else we can do to make sure that they can work (more) independent, have necessary materials and tools nearby, and are reminded about work in progress and inspired for new projects.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Nancy White 10 December 2014 at 16:19

I’m taking inspiration from you for spaces for my granddaughters when they are at our house! Thanks for writing about it!

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