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I am a home schooling mom to three amazing kiddos.  We primarily use the Montessori pedagogy to guide our journey.  We also enjoy aspects of classical education and are part of Classical Conversations community. 

I write a Montessori column for Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

I am still a geek at heart and at times miss my former career as an Information Architect/SharePoint Specialist.  I don't have much free time but if I do, it is spent on comic books and video games.
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School Room Evolution

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If you've been following my updates on Facebook then you are already aware that we made a rather flash decision to overhaul the school room.  So far, things are going well.  In fact, they are almost finished; although I'm beginning to realize that reorganizing the shelves is going to be a bigger job than I first imagined!




So let's move on the why and how.

We first added shelving for Montessori purposes to our current school room nearly seven years ago.  I always like to point this fact out because I know it's easy to see where we are now and think that's where you begin.  Not at all!  We began with two Sauder bookcases I picked up on sale at Wal-Mart.  They were tucked in the corner of what was our gaming room at the time.  We built our home long before we had children, so this space was used for LAN parties and decorated in Geek paraphernalia.  For you young'ins, that was something we did for fun more than a decade ago.  ;-)


This is technically the second version after I had made a few material purchases in 2010.


  
Version 3.0 around 2012.  We're still using the same shelves as the prior updated.  We simply expanded the room.

As time went by, we got more serious about our use of Montessori as a homeschooling method.  In fact, we eventually made the commitment to home school for the foreseeable future with the hope to proceed through graduation.  With that commitment came a greater desire to invest in our space.  Little by little shelves were added.  Initially, they consisted of whatever I could find used or on sale.  They weren't perfect and rarely matched, but they could sufficiently hold things.  As time went by, we found ourselves with more children and more materials.  I sensed it was time to make a change.  The only solution I could come up with was to go up.  In December of 2013 I ended up purchasing a handful of tall shelves.  And since I had to purchase these new, I decided that I would finally have a set of shelves that matched.  It was lovely.


Ahhhh.... mostly matching selves for version 4.0.


We've been plugging along fairly well.  However, as my children have grown and are pursuing more involved work, we suddenly experienced a lack of floor space.  There are few things that would ruin a good run of school work than two rugs overlapping.  If only I were kidding.  I began to notice this issue around the same time I was planning our accommodations for elementary work for my oldest.  I still have two in primary; one more than halfway and one near the beginning.  My children are perfectly spaced to ensure nothing ever leaves the shelves.  My desire to make a few changes started simple enough.  I was going to remove the practical life table and pack away the infant/toddler materials I left out due to nostalgia.  But the elephant, or should I say 4 massive desks, in the room kept staring me down.  The room lacked identity, and the disparity made it feel cramped and cluttered.

 While this is technically from version 3.0 back in 2012, you can get decent view of the shelves and desks.


I had always resisted the idea of removing the remainder of our LAN room.  The large desks, server rack, and wall units were custom built for the space by my father less than a month after we moved it.  They represented a very enjoyable aspect of my life, one which has been non-existent since becoming a mom.  I had never faced how much I was holding on to this symbol of my past.  It's not like we had systems for the desks anymore.  It had become a relic and one that was holding us all back at that.  We spend a significant amount of time in that room and it needs to be functional.  I finally decided it was time to pack up my action figures and move on.  I did take a day to carefully measure the space and draw up a few options on paper.  I needed to prove that these changes would address every issue.  Sure enough, I came up with a concrete plan, and my husband opted to move quickly lest I change my mind.

But simply making the decision was step one.  While we do make educational spending a very high priority, the kitty is a bit sad given some unexpected dental and medical bills.  Thankfully, I recently had a birthday and agreed to pitch in my funds.  In a sad trend, I still had birthday money from the prior year as well to contribute.  My sweet husband agreed to meet me halfway by picking up more contract work.  We made a mad dash to the next state to procure our Ikea supplies, which was practically the most time we've spent alone together in years.  Then there was no turning back.

Given the size of the desks, we had no choice but to take them apart to remove them.  They were built inside the room.  It was an uncomfortable feeling at first but I felt relief that my father had no issue with the fact I was going to dismantle them. They will most likely become shelving for my storage closet in the future.  It's a fitting end.  As the process progressed, I became more and more resolved.  When everything was removed, I stood back and marveled at just how spacious the room was.  Since the shelves and desks were anchored to the wall, I knew painting would be necessary.  I chose a completely different color, and I think it has gone a long way to redefining the space. 


Major progress - but a lot left to do still.


Now that the walls are painted and the shelves are in place, I couldn't be happier with my decision.  It's getting hard to picture what once was.  On the surface it may seem like a simple step to make a space workable.  In reality, the last few weeks have been a deeply personal journey of redefining myself and my priories.  I hope for many peaceful years in that space.

And now that I think about it, we may have the space to host a co-op now...

Follow me on Facebook if you want to get more detailed updates.  I'll talk more in depth about specific choices soon.  Also stay tuned for the big reveal in a few weeks.  I also have a fun project planned called Spectacular Spaces of Summer, but I'll need your help!

-Bess

You can always find me at Montessori Homeschooling
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