Thinking Outside the Chair
Written by Katrina Thennis
This is just one of the AMAZING articles in Homeschool.com’s newest
e-magazine–Back to Homeschool
As a kid, summer was the time to be outside. We rode horses, played outside all day and went swimming. By fall we were tanned and healthy.
Hopefully your summer has been full of exciting adventures and lots of outdoor time and you find yourself rejuvenated in body and soul.
As we head back inside to resume our studies I would like to share with you some ideas for keeping some of that health that summer time activities bring, even while we are constrained to our books or computers for school.
Part of the reason we homeschool is because we think outside the box. When it comes to setting up your learning areas, I’m going to ask you to think outside the chair!
For many reasons, sitting for long periods is not good for us. People, especially children, are intended to move. When we sit for long periods of time it can affect our bodily and mental health.
There are many sources that say that children need to move in order to stay focused and learn.
In a blog post from Minds in Bloom, guest-writer and pediatric occupational therapist, Loren Shlaes explains that “a nerve in the inner ear, called the vestibular nerve, serves to tell the body how upright, aroused, and present to be in, in direct response to movement. The only way to activate the vestibular nerve so that it can do its job is to move.”
In the blog Timbernook, Angela Hanscom explains: “many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular(balance) system today–due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time. Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system.
Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”
So what is the solution? One of my favorite sources of information on natural movement and alignment is KatySays.com. Some solutions she recommends are:
- A standing work/play station.
These can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. You can add a crate or box to your desk or learning area and have your child stand while working. Or you can buy a standing workstation desk. Start with small amounts of time standing and work up to longer periods. And feel free to trade out standing and sitting as desired.
We have a Standing Play Table for our youngest. We store toys underneath and he can play with them on the table. I find that it encourages more play to have his toys available and a great place to set them up!
We also use a standing or sitting computer station. As my daughter gets taller I will need to build up the keyboard and screen but it works well for her at this age. If she wants to, she can sit on the exercise ball.
And I either sit somewhere (see below for lots of fun sitting options) with my laptop or use it at our tall counter.
- Walking 4-5 miles/day
Our goal this summer is to work in more walking. Our challenge will be increasing the distance we walk with the 2 and 5 yr old. But I figure if multiple times a day we take a quick walk around the block, pretty soon we will be able to make a trek to the library or science museum without me having to carry anybody! We also like to go hiking a lot and even just running around at an open park is great! We bring the Frisbees when we go or play running games. So start small and see how far you can get.
- Stretching muscles
It helps to take frequent breaks to stretch your muscles. You can do some simple yoga moves or try out the stretches from here: http://www.katysays.com/the-how-much-do-i-sit-quiz/
- Indoor play equipment
How about monkey bars in the house? I would love to incorporate this idea into our home. It’s great for climbing and hanging, especially in the winter when it’s harder to get to the park. We also have a mini-trampoline that helps us when the weather gets cold and the kids need an outlet for extra energy. And in the summer we utilize the park.
Another idea I like is to do Slacklining, where you walk across a strap attached to two points. I think this would be fun to set up outside and possibly inside if you could figure out how to attach it. http://www.bellalunatoys.com/gibbon-classic-slackline-x13-kit.html
DIY Slackline — http://www.nwslackline.org/32/article-building-a-basic-slackline
- A variety of seating options.
I know a lot of homeschoolers do school on the couch and on beds, so we already have a great start! Other options would be floor cushions, bolsters and a variety of sitting positions on the floor.
(Think outside the chair poster pic) – source for poster (http://myemail.constantcontact.com/How-many-postures-do-you-use-in-a-day-.html?soid=1101468812682&aid=gZv6y1MvhCI)
We currently have beanbag chairs and body pillows. We have them set up next to our bookshelves to accommodate assigned and free-reading. The kids also like to use them when we watch television.
For more ideas on standing play tables, articles on how to incorporate these ideas into your home and more, check out my Pinterest board:http://www.pinterest.com/mtkatrina/natura-alignment-for-kids/
Written by Katrina Thennis, http://thechickenwire.blogspot.com/