Think home educating makes your house untidy?
I watched a programme last night on Channel 4 ‘The Hoarder Next Door’ and another three days ago on BBC1 ‘Britain’s Biggest Hoarders’ and they certainly put in perspective. They were about people who have a condition where they hoard everything, unable to throw things away. They made a busy, stuff-strewn, home school house look like a tidy palace in comparison.
I felt a bit guilty after I’d watched it because I’d suggested that you keep all kinds of rubbish for the kids to create with when I talked about their play a few blogs back. (Get them learning to play and playing to learn) Then I learnt about ‘Hoarders’ who have a condition so bad you couldn’t see the floors, let alone a table, worktop, chair or bed.
There were times, I admit, I also despaired of ever seeing a worktop again. It would be submerged under an ocean of books, materials, fabrics, papers, glue, jars and junk, paints and pieces of unrecognisable things and sticky, sticky, sticky substances best not investigated. The living room could be as bad. Then we would have a purge and when order was restored and cupboard doors could actually be shut I had that sense of being back in control of my life you don’t often get when home schooling!
But I recognised that it was very important to have stuff about and not be too tidy obsessed. Because having things around stimulates the kids to be busy, helps to keep them motivated and inspired. I feel the same. I walk into a house where there’s nothing going on and I immediately feel dulled. Go in a house with lots about to look at, touch, fiddle with and I’m immediately stimulated.
It’s the same with children. I bet if you sent some kids into a room with a TV in one corner and a table stacked with various materials, tools, objects or just intriguing junk in another they’d forget the TV and gravitate towards the table and start fiddling.
Fiddling’s good. Even if nothing else comes of it, it advances manipulative skills! But usually something does come of them having stuff around to use. It stimulates their minds and stimulated minds are learning minds.
A tidy house is not the sign of a learning house, just like a toy free house is not the sign of a family house. Things around means lives being lived and enjoyed. Collect and let some things lie around for them to be busy with. I’m not suggesting you become an obsessive Hoarder. There are levels of comfort between tidy and busy, keep/throw away that we need to find. But it’s important when home educating not to be too tidy. Just keep dreams of the show home for when they’ve grown and flown. It will come. And a lot quicker than you think.
So enjoy the junk for now and if you think your house is bad, watch the programme. It might help with perspective!