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Ideas for setting up a learning 'room' for different aged children?

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I have 4 children: 9,8,5,2 and would like to set up a learning room where we do the majority of our schooling. It is not a large room and I have bookshelves spanning the length of one side - they are already close to full! This is where we will do our seatwork/ copywork/ art projects/etc. We migrate around the house for reading. My 2 year old has a couple of the low shelves full of puzzles/ coloring books/ plastic animals, etc. I have a 4 seater table in the middle of the room and a computer table in a corner. I feel pretty crowded when we are all in there. I would also like bookshelves that are more organized.... Any suggestions for how to make this room function for both my 9 year old and also for a toddler who loves puzzles in a small space? Maybe this is just a fantasy - an organized learning center....:lol: Hope that make sense!

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Some off-the-cuff ideas


Don't put too much out for the toddler, just the work for the day. Keep the rest of his (or her) stuff in a bin on the top of the bookshelf and rotate it out every day.


Keep the door open and use the hall a little.


Borrow the "small rug defines your work space" from Montessori.


Think about ditching the 4 seater table and doing hinged work tables on the wall for everyone (can even do a low one for the littlest). Something like this (I've seen it smaller)


Put the computer table (and the computer) somewhere else. Don't put it in an isolated part of the house, but see if you can fit it into the kitchen or by the tv (if you have one).


Use your wall space efficiently--can you think outside the box, and maybe split the shelves so that some are on one wall and some on the other? Are they low enough to turn perpendicular to the wall to provide a "nook" for the toddler's work space (use the back of it for posters or a small dry erase or felt board for him, or turn it towards him and let him take things off the shelf himself, then work on a throw rug or bathtowel on the floor, putting everything back before he takes something else)?


Let your 9 year old earn the privilege of working elsewhere on a lapboard or at the kitchen table for a subject or two (or your 8, depending on who can handle it).


Let one of your olders watch the toddler for 20 mins or so while you work with the other older child, then switch. (I'm brainstorming ways of having the room be less crowded).


Do you need all the bookcases there? Could you put one in a living room or closer to where you read?


Just some ideas.

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We always had a small quilt on the floor between the table and the window. Our preschoolrer would choose one small box of toys or manipulatives ro play in what we called the "secret clubhouse."


The rules for the club were to be quiet and sta on the quilt - it worked for years and years!

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