Couch-schooling

Education happens anywhere and everywhere, and in our family it happens on the couch. We have a huge blue velvet sectional sofa that seats everyone and the dog comfortably with room to spare, and it’s always a mess of books, drawing supplies, discarded socks, and cushions mashed into the shape of children’s bodies.

The couch is where a lot of daily life and conversation happens. Isn’t it an attractive idea to trade in an uncomfortable school desk for a nice friendly couch? It works for us.

The last two weeks we’ve made space on our couch for a “public school refugee”. My friend’s daughter has dropped out of grade five. School was stressing her out so much, it was making her sick and her parents decided it was time for a break. I offered to have her spend days with us when my friend has to work, and here we are.

It’s been great having another kid here, actually. She and my older kids were friends to some degree before, but now they’re spending more time together and loving that. I’m so glad to be able to provide a place to hang out while she detoxes from school-related stress.

This afternoon I settled into the couch to read my book but three sentences in, my youngest daughter came running inside crying, hurt while playing outside with her brother. Suddenly I had one child on my lap and others around me on the couch. I put my book down. My older son was reading his novel beside me.

He looked up in the middle of the page he was reading and said, “Mom, I don’t get it. How are you supposed to know when to say ‘John and me’, or ‘me and John'”? So I explained to him the concept of the subject of a sentence, vs. the object of a sentence. I taught him the trick of taking John out of the sentence to see if it still makes sense. ie, you wouldn’t write “me went to the store”, so you shouldn’t write “me and John went to the store”.

Next, my younger son, holding a container of bubbles, shook it up and observing the foam that formed inside the bottle, wondered if it were put in the freezer if it would stay that way. So we discussed ideas about that.

Then my younger kids went to the table asking me to get out the art supplies. While I was getting them out I came across a fractions workbook and showed it to them. I was curious to test my younger son’s ability to convert fractions, and he totally knows how to do it, so that’s good. One eighth plus one eighth equals two eights, equals one quarter, equals half of a half.

Now my four kids are engaged as follows: oldest girl practicing piano, oldest son reading a mind-improving novel from my bookshelf (I keep it full of mind-improving books in hopes that somebody will pick one up. Strewing.), younger son and younger daughter are at the table drawing and crafting side by side. My public school refugee kid just finished practicing her oboe. She and my older daughter took the dog for an hour’s walk before that without being asked.

I find our big blue couch a good metaphor for how we do things. Homey, comfortable, space for the whole family (and more). It conforms to the requirements of its users.

Unschooling works as a method of education for children.

Not sure when I’ll get to read my book though…

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