Before our first year of homeschooling, our family worked hard to set up an inspiring environment. Renovations were done that turned the back half of the garage and a utility room into a home office for Saïd and a bathroom on the first floor. The old office/playroom was cleared, the walls were painted, and we set up a large table and bookshelves to organize our materials. It’s the perfect space…and yet, sometimes we just need a different space.

puzzlekitchen tableWhen large projects take over the Work Room table (ahem, 1000-piece puzzle), or I get caught up in the kitchen (1000-plate pile of dishes), the kids drag their stuff to the kitchen table. This has the added benefit of snacking being available to them throughout the entire morning (cue my tears of frustration). Popcorn seems like a reasonable lunch.


carmath keysSometimes, it seems like we spend more time going to and from appointments than we actually spend at those appointments. These Math Keys have really come in handy this year. Zahra can practise fractions and division on our way downtown. Noah can rattle off multiplication tables in the orthodontist’s waiting room, prompting the receptionist to remark that multiplication is a skill that most adults use daily. Score.

If we need to get out the house, but there isn’t anywhere to go…our little local library is a great place to work. Large tables, reference books galore, and somebody else’s rule to be quiet make for a glorious place to concentrate and get a lot done.


Then there’s the bank, where we can hit two (three?) birds with one stone: reading (in French and in English!) and financial savvy. What’s not to love? (Don’t answer that.)


cafeWhen the lesson in financial savvy doesn’t quite sink in, we sometimes find ourselves in a café. Juice is an excellent distraction from the fact that they’re actually doing history and map work.

libraryThere’s also the school library. This morning, fifteen minutes before we needed to leave to play librarians for the kindergarten classes, Noah decided he needed dragon-drawing tutorials and he needed them now. I Googled, printed, and then we were off. Besides working on one’s drawing skills, the school library turned out to be the perfect place to peruse a variety of graphic novels, solidify notions of alphabetical order, help small humans express in words what books they’d like to read, and learn more about Egyptian tombs (from kindergarten’s leading archaeologist, a curly-haired boy who earnestly gives me more details on sarcophages every time I see him).

djembefarmOr the Nook. Even the little bean needs a change of scenery sometimes, swapping school for a djembe lesson. Finding Mr. Quinn in the barn last Thursday permitted us to swap cursive practice for a lesson on the dangers of sheep ultrasounds. I ask you, which one is going to be more beneficial to them in the long run?

Other times, all it takes is a splash of colour in our own environment to renew that voracious appetite for learning.