This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!
One person whose work I find absolutely fascinating is a biomechanist named Katy Bowman. By now, I’m sure you’ve read about how “Sitting is the New Smoking,” and how a sedentary lifestyle is not the best. Just as it is known that healthy food is necessary for our bodies to function well, Katy is passionate about how natural movement is instrumental in having a healthy body. Her blog at Nutritious Movement is educational (while sometimes a little over my head) and was instrumental in showing me a different way of viewing our homeschool days. A little bit more about Katy in a minute.
Now lets talk about education and how it relates to stillness. Have you noticed that in North America, a lot of learning is done at a table while sitting. I have no studies to point this out but I believe it is a given. Look at any picture of school, wherever it is being held (public, private, home) and someone is generally sitting at a table. Many homeschoolers move away from that a bit and utilize a sofa or love seat. All in all, either way invites lots of sitting.
I do not know about you, but in my home, I have a child who moves a lot. This kid moves so very much that it feels often as if you are in the same room as a whirlwind. The movement is so much, so overwhelming to the introverts in my family, but so very necessary for my little one. And so when the struggle to “do school” with this kid began, I found myself having to look for ways to match the learning with the energy. It was a moment when I, as teacher and parent, had to search out a solution to make a learning environment that was best for her.
I began to observe this child of mine. Really, really watch. This kid didn’t naturally gravitate towards chairs or couches. They bounded over tables, scooted under tables, ran around the island in the kitchen, and attempted to climb trees. But the one thing that was done when the child actually did stop to ponder something or examine a leaf on the ground was to squat.
Have you noticed that in your own home or with children you spend time with? They squat a lot when they are small. Play with a toy: squat on the ground. Eat a snack: squat in a chair. Look at a book: squat. It’s very natural to them, surprisingly so because most adults in the USA find it nearly impossible. These kids are not usually stopping to get up in a chair to do any of those activities. I began to wonder why it was that a child has no problem squatting as they work, why do they do it, and what happens between early childhood and adulthood to make us lose that natural inclination.
This blog post will not answer those specific questions but they were the catalyst to me learning how to change around our school days. Remember Katy? In searching for reasons for squatting, I found her blog and began to eat up the information. Her books found their way to our shelves and her posts were printed out for me to read and share with my husband. Her love of natural movement encouraged me to change how I moved about my home and while walking, and this quite naturally flowed down to encouraging my children.
We began by moving away from the table when it was time to focus on our studies. Many of us were to taught to sit in ergonomically helpful chairs and to practice proper posture. I scrapped that. The beauty of books and pencils and paper is that they can be moved wherever we need them to be. And so, my mover-and-shaker child was encouraged to sit on the floor, or lay on the tummy while reading. They are allowed to do school work wherever their little heart desires because this is what works for them. There are still lots of wiggles going on but we are working with those wiggles while learning and expending lots of energy at the same time. It really has made all the difference in the world.
So. If your days are long and hard and energy abounds, I highly suggest getting on the floor or standing somewhere new. Maybe stand at the kitchen counter while doing math. Read aloud that funny anecdote you read online while laying on your back. Move around and take frequent breaks if that is what you or your child(ren) need to make the learning and home environment that is best for your family.