Monday, January 26, 2009

A great thing about home schooling: You can learn on a beanbag inside a tent.

The first week we started this new venture, I tried to write a list of the top 10 things we love about home school. I didn’t get very far of course, because I had no direct experience—no point of reference… yet. But now, some distinct advantages are emerging and I thought I would share. One really great thing about home school is that one can learn on a bean bag inside a tent!

When I first set up our room, it was full of office chairs and work stations. Boring! What was I thinking? That lasted about a week as I noticed that the ergonomically correct office chairs that I had so painstakingly selected had not been graced with a single “booty” of any size, including mine. They were nothing more than glorified "space taker uppers" in our quaint little lair of learning. My mistake was quickly undone. We ceremoniously removed the chairs and quickly replaced them with our new chair of choice--mismatched animal print bean bags.

At first, the interior designer in me resisted these garish, unmatched swatches of cheap polyester stuffed with undoubtedly toxic plastic beads. I had worked diligently to create a “designer environment” for our den, gosh darn it! I gave it up, focusing on the possibilities for fun and creativity. So, off to the store we went. Our first official home school field trip destination was “Bean Bag World” in a very rough section of south Santa Ana. Never has $89 gone so far. I embraced the moment and even got one for myself—a lovely brown, tan and black cheetah print with a slightly fuzzy texture adding a little touch of designer luxury.

They are “oh so versatile” and my children are still discovering uses for them. One bowling alley shaped room in our home with a slick limestone floor provides tremendous sliding opportunities when we need a break. We crank up the music and see who can get the farthest. They are light and easy to drag from room to room as we need them. They are perfect for reading, writing, pondering, or watching history tapes. For anyone considering getting into meditation, they can’t be beat, for you can wiggle and jiggle yourself into a position of blissful, weightless suspension. And if we pile them on top of each other, we can take turns jumping into them. And of course, during class time, they are the chair of choice for all of us. The down side for an adult is getting out of the chair, but I have even developed my own signature move for this which involves transitioning to all fours, then popping myself into a “yoga-like lunge” and slowly rising so the blood doesn’t rush to my head.

Today, I entered our classroom and found a new addition to the room—pop up tents placed strategically around each of the kid’s bean bags. Yes, the pop up Cinderella and Buzz Light Year tents that they have had since they were two (and that I have considered giving away at least 10 times) are still, to my utter amazement, being put to creative use. With the addition of the pop up tents, the kids have symbolically “marked their territories” and further defined their “space.” They love crawling in with their laptops and a snack to take on the day’s assignments. And surprisingly, the interior designer in me doesn’t even care.

So it turns out my list of “things I love about home school” is a little different than I expected. I remain open to surprises and will continue to share as we discover them.

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