(Last Updated on April 17, 2021)
In the last post, we took a look at ways to homeschool successfully even during a messy, unpredictable home renovation.
Here’s one last idea (the best one, in my opinion) for successfully homeschooling in the midst of a remodel project. Drum roll, please.
The idea is to…
EMBRACE THE CHAOS!
Yes, it’s overwhelming and extra-stressful. Yes, your home is in complete disarray. And yes, the tattered bits left of your normal routine are consistently interrupted. But if you can, try and get to a place – physically, mentally, and emotionally – where you can walk TOWARD the chaos instead of hiding from it and wishing it was over.
Try and think of it like a long-term field trip that you get to live in instead of traveling to.
Involve your kids whenever possible and follow rabbit trails often (there are MANY)! Take whatever ideas here are helpful and come up with your own ways to use your remodel as an awesome learning adventure!
Your Home Renovation:
The Ultimate Homeschool Unit Study
Project Design & Planning
- Check out books from the library that show actual house floor plans. Or use websites (HomePlans.com, for example) to study 2D floor plans and learn about room design, measurements, building materials, house features, and more.
- Have your kids draw floor plans of their own room, your entire home, or even make maps of your block.
- Use architectural stencils or make your own cardboard templates to lay out furniture in their floor plan. There are also books, like the Home Quick Planner, that have reusable stickers for playing around with design layouts.
- Let them measure rooms in your home and create scale versions of parts or all of your house with toys or on graph paper.
- Show them each stage of the design process – from brainstorming with napkin sketches to final inspections and permit approval.
- If they’re really getting into it, or if you have a budding architect on your hands, check out this Young Architect Building Set.
- Have them build models of your project space with Lego’s or MagnaTiles or whatever you have on hand. For older kids, use foam-core board or balsa wood for more professional-looking models and have them try and build theirs to an accurate scale.
- Older kids (or computer savvy younger kids) can start learning CAD (Computer Aided Design) drafting software. There are several free programs out there – LibreCAD, FreeCAD and SketchUp to name a few. And AutoDesk, the maker of the very widely-used professional drafting software, AutoCAD, has a free student/educator version! (Note: Make sure to read AutoDesk’s definition of “Qualified Educational Institution” to determine if you meet their eligibility requirements for the free software license before downloading.)
- Bring your kids with you when you pick out countertops, floor tile, carpet, appliances, and light fixtures.
- Ask them to help you weigh the pros and cons of your options. They can research quartz vs. granite countertops or vinyl vs. wood siding. Younger kids can compare based on color and price tags. Older kids can do more in-depth comparisons including lifetime maintenance costs, impact on your home’s resale value, and environmental impact.
- Talk about DIY projects vs. hiring contractors and why you’re choosing to do one or the other for this project. Find books or YouTube videos about projects like yours to show your kids what’s involved. Discuss the benefits and downsides of each method (for example, if you DIY, you’ll have to spend more on tools but if you hire a contractor, you won’t have as much control over how things are done).
- If you’re comfortable showing them the overall costs involved, let your older kids take a look at the contractor bids and give their two cents as to which quote they’d choose and why.
- Kids generally like to help with grown-up projects. And often, with proper guidance, they can be more helpful than you might expect. (I’m not suggesting you put your four year old up on scaffolding and tell him to finish up the window installation!) Find age-appropriate ways for them to help with the actual project work. For example, my kids LOVED helping with the demolition in all of our projects.
- Get them their own safety glasses, kid-sized tools, and other gear to help them get involved in a hands-on (but still safe) way.
- Watch Chip & Joanna reruns or This Old House to expose your kids to different aspects of construction.
- Do a long-term time-lapse photo project of your renovation, taking a picture each day from the same spot. Use iMovie or other movie-editing software to add a soundtrack, text and other fancy
- If your contractors are willing and time allows, let your kids interview them about their profession. This could be just a few quick questions or more formal interviews they compile into a full report.
- Ask if your local home improvement store would give you a guided tour of the store and its departments.
- Have your kids write or draw their observations of the construction over time. Younger kids can dictate their ideas to you. Or, have them do news report videos, giving status updates to the extended family.
- Do a study on tools of the various trades they’re seeing in your home. Use tools you already own and construction related toys and games to enhance their learning of the trades and their terminology.
- Study architecture and construction through books of all kinds. My kids have all enjoyed the book, Tools, as a basic introduction to household tools. Older kids, or anyone really interested in architecture or construction details, might enjoy any of the books by Francis D. K. Ching. I used several of his books in my college architectural engineering classes, but the illustrations are amazing – kids and adults of all ages can learn a lot even just by looking at the pictures. Use whatever resources you can to help your kids make connections between what they’re seeing in your renovation and the books they’re reading.
More Rabbit Trails to Follow
Branch off into other related topics that interest your kids. Here are a few to get you started:
- City Planning – Often your town’s website will have information on their long-term planning, zoning and goals.
- City Codes & Permits – Also on your city’s website, you should be able to find information on construction permits and code requirements for home owners and contractors. Maybe even do a field trip to your local permit office for a quick tour and a chat with an inspector (I’d definitely recommend getting proper permits for your project before doing this one)!
- Career Studies – There are hundreds of jobs related to the building and construction industry – everything from general contractor to earthquake design specialist to interior designer. KahnAcademy has a section on “careers” which includes free videos on various professions, including construction-related ones. And you can find many more with a quick YouTube search. Books like A Day In The Life Of A Builder (for your youngest readers) or detailed career guides like Becoming an Architect (for your older students) are a great way to open their eyes to the day-to-day of these professions.
- Green Building & Design – There’s a whole world of information out there on sustainable design, recycling construction materials and energy efficient buildings. I used to take free online CE courses at greence.com to maintain my LEED AP credential – but anyone can setup a free account and access their library of videos on sustainability and green design.
- Volunteering – Look into volunteering opportunities at your church or with groups like Habitat for Humanity for more hands-on experiences.
Remember, before you know it you’ll be enjoying your new space and it will be WONDERFUL.
In the meantime, try and see through the chaos to find the golden nuggets of educational opportunity you can experience with your kids!
If you have a child who seems interested in pursuing a career in architecture, building engineering, or construction, take a look at this article I wrote which was originally published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine: 10 Ways to Build a Career as an Architectural Engineer.
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