This post is part of our Happy Learning Spaces series where I invited my amazing friends to show us around their inviting and inspiring home learning spaces. With some inspiration and creativity, any homes, large or small can be transformed into a perfect Learning Space for your children. I’ll let these friends show you how!
I am delighted to welcome today’s guest blogger Tiffany from 2mamas4kids. She lives in sunny city country Singapore (that’s where I’m from) where lack of space is a real problem. Living in a 98m² (or 1054ft²) space, Tiffany shows us how to creatively find spaces for learning in a small home and how learning can take place anywhere, from the living room to the balcony to the yard. Introducing Tiffany!
1) Hi there! Tell us about yourself and your kids.
I am Tiffany, a FTWM. I enjoy dressmaking and DIYs. Food and travel are two important parts of my family. I hope to (re)pick up French before we visit France (hopefully soon!).
I have two children. Chloe is turning 4 and Joash is turning 2 this year. Both of them attend full-day childcare while the husband and I are at work. Since the kids are already attending school, I trust the teachers to handle the academic work. We complement and supplement learning from home.
I always thought I would send my kids to a Reggio or Montessori school but they were out of our budget. Hence we adopt a mix of Reggio and Montessori approaches at home. At the end of the day, whether Reggio or Montessori or not, my goal is to make learning authentic and fun for the little humans.
2) Show us around your home learning space.
We live in a regular 3 bedroom apartment so we do not have the luxury of having of play/learning room. We make do with whatever space we have in the home.
The kids’ room is my main project when we were designing our new home. I orginally planned to contain EVERYTHING in the room but that was a little too ambitious. Aftering living and trying out the space for about a year, we figured that this is where we read and work on any shelf activities. Activities and toys are rotated and presented on the shelf to make it an invitation-to-play/learn.
We have a forward facing shelf for the books. The selection is changed once a month according to the theme that we are working on. We also have a book basket by the bedside, repurposed from an underused picnic basket that we have. Library books or books for J usually goes into the basket while the highlights go onto the shelf.
Table Work Station. This is where we do our table work: playdough, worksheets, writing, drawing etc. The table was initially placed in the kids room but we moved it out to occupy the space beneath the book shelves. Building blocks and legos are stored in storage boxes under the table covers. The trays that we use for paintings are kept beneath the table for easy access.
The art and craft supplies are presented on an art trolley. The out of reach materials are placed on the top level, children have free acess to the supplies on the second tier. It contains the crayons, colour pencils, paint brush and lots of (rough) paper. The lower tier holds the accessories for play dough.
Balcony. This is daddy’s project when we were doing up our place. This is where we do our gardening, sensory play and painting. All the messy activities in general. The kids help to water the plants, sometimes loosening the soil together, repotting and harvesting with daddy. Sensory play accessories and bins are stored away together with the gardening tools for easy access. I am usually not worried about the mess unless they start flicking the paintbrushes.
Kitchen. The husband and I involve our children in the kitchen quite a bit. We start off with the step-stool for C to join us in simple preparation work like washing, peeling etc. Once she was ready, we introduced the use of knife and peeler. We have one set from IKEA but we love Le Petit Chief knife-peeler set for Opinel that was gifted to us. It comes with a finger guard, knife and peeler. I also got small chopping boards from Daiso for the little humans.
Yard. We keep our cleaning equipments like broom, mop, pails and rags at the yard. The little humans have a full access to them. They also each have designated pail and rag to use for spillage and general cleaning.
Learning doesn’t have to be confined to a dedicated space. We try to create an envionrment for active learning by including and involving our children in the house within safe boundaries and measures.
3) What do the kids love most about their learning space?
It is a YES space for them where they get to create and work independently. Both of C and J access the sensory bin laid out at the balcony rather freely. Whenever they do, they are usually engaged for quite some time. As for table work, we taught C to cut within a tray when she wants to practice cutting (yes we allow her to handle the scissors on her own). When C wants to draw, she has to draw on paper. Of course there are times when things happen otherwise, but each of these incidents makes a teachable moment.
4) What makes a good home learning space?
A good home learning space has to be clutter-free. I noticed that the litte humans are more invited to ‘learn’ when the spaces are neat and tidy.
It is also important for them to have accessibility (to suitable materials) so that the little humans have the opportunity to exercise independence and practice self-directed learning.
5) What are some of your must-haves in your learning space?
Books displayed on a front-facing shelf. When we don’t have time to work on any other activities, we read. We read almost every single night before bedtime; it is a routine that we establish. Front-facing displayed book shelf makes the book even more inviting to read!
Trays, baskets etc. Each basket/tray contains an activity, which provides a visual compartmentalisation of all the learning activities. It also helps little humans to know where to return the materials to after they are done.
Paper and writing matierials. C helps herself to paper and writing materials/scissors and keeps herself occupied. She colours, cuts and doodles.
And if space permits, an inviting shelf to set up invitation to play. Invitation to play/learn works best for us. Learning activities are pretty much self-directed in that sense. If a particular acitvity is not that well received, I rotate to another location on the shelf.
6) Any tips to other parents who like to set up a home learning space for their children too?
You don’t need a huge space; start simple! We started off with a corner in the living room when we were staying in a 3-room flat. Sensory play took place in the toilet or along the common corridor.
7) Where can we see more of your home learning space? Where can we connect with you?
Thank you Tiffany for showing us around your beautiful home learning space. Do you have an inspiring home learning space too? Post a photo of your space with the hashtag #htshappylearningspaces on Instagram and tag me @happytotshelf for a chance to be featured here!
Check out more inspiring home learning spaces in our Happy Learning Spaces series here.