Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Art of Progress

It has been said that:
"the art of progress is to preserve order amid change."

Boy, that is an art, isn't it? Things do seem to continually change, and in an effort to preserve order in our home we found we needed to make a few simple changes as we began this school year.

We are finding that although we have a school room, we tend to end up back at the kitchen table. Does anyone else find that the kitchen table is just a homeschool magnet? It seems that things work best when we are all together, and the kitchen table makes that possible. However, this change has meant that we really needed to think through how to school during the day, then recover and experience a peaceful home life after the school work is done.

To work in our family space, we had to address book storage. There are books and binders we use on a daily basis* that must be close by, but I wanted to keep out of sight.

Because this is our home as well as our classroom, I really didn't want to look at school curriculum on the shelf when I am not teaching. That may not bother anyone else, but I knew it would be less than relaxing for me, so after some consideration, this is what we decided on: we purchased a black ottoman from This one is large and holds all of our everyday curriculum with room to spare.

*Note: While we have many other homeschool resources, if I don't need them on a daily basis, I just tuck them away until I need them. I have a small closet for resources that are for Mama's use or craft surprises in my room and curriculum storage in our school room on shelves in the wall. Because these items are out of sight I am not seeing the clutter on a daily basis and that makes Mama feel relaxed.

Another reason I liked this option was the fact that this piece of furniture can fill many roles~ it is curriculum storage now, but it could be a coffee table, additional seating or even store blankets at the foot of my bed someday. Also, it was inexpensive, and with "site to store" shipping the freight was free. Love that.

We have several visual learners under our roof, so I wanted a way to display learning material without having it become the wall paper of our home. I decided to add a couple of inexpensive magnet boards from IKEA to the wall. I purchased two, then my handy hubby took them, attached them together and hung them for me.

When we aren't using the magnet boards they can be empty and not draw a great deal of attention. When I want to get some extra mileage out of some hands on activities I've made or emphasize something new, I can add magnets to it and leave it on the board for a couple of weeks. It keeps these items corralled in one location which keeps things looking clean and neat. I love that. In the IKEA store, they carried these magnet boards in stainless and white as well.

I wanted a chalk board near our kitchen table even before I decided that I would be doing school there this year. I love the idea of writing verses or quotes where we can see them and change things as often as I want. I originally saw the idea in a Pottery Barn catalog. They had several square boards together to make one large board. I think it cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250. Well, that just sounded like a challenge to me. I showed my husband the catalog and told him that I knew they sold chalk board spray paint. Did he think we could make one? My hero always figures out a way.

While we created this board months ago, re-purposing it to use in our school day is a change for us.

What he did: Tom opted to use some left over bead board we had on hand. It was flat and came with primer already on it, so it was ready to paint. He cut it to the size I wanted and we used about 3 cans of black chalk board paint from Walmart~ somewhere around a $6-9 investment. He offered to frame it with molding, which is another option, but I like the simplicity of it plain. The black chalkboard looks so classic to me.

I erase it with a damp paper towel and let it dry before each use. I use regular chalk and it works great.

Blessings to you in the art of progress!


Intro. photo: More progress~ Hailey has moved from a bassinet to a crib. That is a big adjustment for her Mama. I have been in denial~ I am sure I should have moved her about 2 months ago, but she's still a tiny baby, right? Now that she is starting to roll I had to shake the denial. Lydia likes to keep the bench nearby so she can peek in at Hailey. : )


  1. -An interesting fact, indeed- that we keep feeling drawn to the kitchen table, though we have school rooms.

    Personally, I feel "stuck" in a school room... I feel boxed in between walls... secluded... a lil too much so...

    And I think another huge thing for me, is COLOR! I chose sky blue for the school room, and it is much too "foggy" of a color for a learning atmosphere. -What a mistake!!! I am drawn to the more boldly colored rooms! ;)

    I loved your idea about the ottoman!! I was just thinking about such a thing a few days ago, except I was thinking of somewhere to put the big blanket that we keep wanting to use outside on a regular basis. Where do you put a blanket that is not clean-clean, but is clean enough to want to reuse a few more times??

    How much was that ottoman you bought, Rebecca??

    It IS hard letting go, and making those semi-big changes, such as moving from a bassinet to a crib, and then later, the crib to the toddler bed, and then to the twin bed, and so on, isn't it??? I understand.... ; )

    By the way, I haven't heard from you about how to get updates of your blogs... ??

  2. thanks for sharing about the ottoman. i've been looking for something for the very same reason. love your blog!

  3. Hi Katie! I think it was $78. You will find a link to take you right to it in the text. : ) Hmmm... updates. Right. I still need to look into that~ sorry! : )

    Hi Wendy! Thank you and welcome!

    Hope you have a blessed day!

  4. Hi Rebecca,

    We don't have a school room and our house is a very open plan (kitchen, dining, living all together) So I totally know what you mean about not wanting to "see" school when we're not schooling. We just purchased a long cabinet which goes behind our couch and is close at hand to the table. It has been perfect to keep school books, paper, and supplies right where we use them but out of sight! We also framed and put up a white board in the same area which has been indispensable! I can't believe how many times I have turned to write something up on that board!

    Thanks for always giving us good things to think about!


  5. I actually just purchase some magazine holders to store some of our day-to-day workbooks.... I thought two would be enough for two preschoolers but when I tried them I thought... well they'll work this year:)

    I love the ottoman and the chalkboard ideas... your very creative, but it's very simple, works and looks great!! And not to mention, easy on the pocket book:)

    Thanks for sharing:)

  6. I also like the ottoman idea. I am going to steal it. :)

  7. Hi ladies! Thank you! I am just catching back up. Glad to hear some of these ideas will work for you and I love hearing what is working in your homes. Anything that corrals resources is helpful, right?

    Magazine holders~ great!

    Behind the couch storage cabinet~ great! Um~ I might have to copy that eventually. ; )


  8. Hello-
    I am just going through this right now! I am finding that even though we now have a school room we end up at our kitchen table. So we have done away with the school room and have moved our school to the kitchen, I will enjoy using some of these ideas . Thanks!