As a classroom teacher for 10 years, let me let you in on a little secret: classrooms are organized for the benefit of the teacher, not the students. When I taught a group of 35 10th graders, I needed to be able to move quickly through the space, have every student in my line of sight, and distribute papers and materials in a quick and organized fashion.
Because teaching high school English in 50 minute blocks required efficiency and organization, we sat in rows. I even created seating charts with the students’ faces on them to help substitutes know the kids weren’t playing tricks on them.
Homeschool, although still called school, should NOT seek to emulate a classroom designed for challenges that home environments simply do not share.
There is a Better Way
Schools have been recognizing that kids need to move, to use different muscle groups and to help them focus. They’ve been experimenting and innovating with flexible seating options, and while this is a great start, they still have the responsibility of keeping those kids confined to that room for the designated period of time.
Research has shown that students taking tests do better when they fidget, and even more recently, that the ADHD brain tells the body to move because it learns better when moving.
Desks or Tables only when Beneficial
Now, there are times that sitting at a desk or table can be helpful. Formal writing assignments, messy projects, certain art materials or games work better on a raised surface. Any kind of work with a toddler around …. needs to be out of said toddler’s reach.
Desks are convenient because they provide a clearly defined space, but they are not necessary. And we choose not to use them because we want our learning to be as natural as everything else we do, rather than compartmentalized into a specific space that separates it from the rest of life.
We learn in the car. In bed.
On a swing car in the gap between the kitchen and living room.
On the kitchen floor.
At the science center, the nature center, and wherever else our adventures may lead.
On the back deck, even with jackets on.
Our favorite spot is probably this couch.
We learn wherever we are, because learning is a natural, organic outgrowth of waking up in the morning, and we choose to celebrate that beautiful, often messy, truth.