Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cafe School

We're not Unschoolers. 
I  believe in interest-driven, child-led learning but we do "do" school. 

Often at the kitchen table. Often on our front lawn. Often snuggled on the couch. We read and we write and we count and we laugh and we multiply and yes, sometimes we cry. All of us. It's a bit of a messy business this school thing.

And one morning a week, at least, we have decided to do "cafe school". 

Yesterday it was a little different as we had to be dropped off for the boys sailing lessons at 7am, almost two hours early, after a 5:30 wake up. Crazy. So a cup of coffee, juice for the boys and somewhere nice to sit was definitely in order.

I had their 'work' with me - on travelling days or for "cafe school" I pack a light load but it generally includes their Maths workbooks, some phonics work or a crossword puzzle, a reading book and/or a copy of The School Magazine and their handwriting books - but at 7am it's a bit early to throw them into that! 

So we pulled out one of their favourite school-time activities... Graffiti Doodle: Mess Up A Masterpiece (here's a link. We LOVE this book).
Doodlers are encouraged to deface and disfigure all manner of recognisable places, people and products: add some more heads to Mount Rushmore; put a Zulu warrior in a sentry box at Buckingham Palace; give Michelangelo's (naked) David a three-piece suit; give the Mona Lisa a full makeover. There are no restrictions to the havoc that can be created with this fun and rebellious book.
The brilliance lies in the book's rebellious good-hearted nature. Go on, go crazy. Let your imagination go wild. And... at the same time you're going to learn about The Bayeux Tapestry, Otto von Bismarck, The United Nations Headquarters, Gustave Doré, North Korea or the Papyrus of Ani. That's cool if you ask me.

The way we use it is that the boys take turns choosing a page (this stops L doing a squiggle on every page and announcing the book as "all used up"). Smile. We google the person or the place or the artwork, look at an image of the real thing and I read a little about it to them. Thanks wikipedia. Yesterday it was Mount Rushmore. Fun. 

And yum.

And somehow in the mix of all that I showed them a photo of a baby Polar Bear (awwww) and a photo of a rocket strapped to a 747 (Wow) and we discussed these things too. 

And Hug had an impromptu lesson using my camera. Because he will after all be 9 this weekend coming and almost-9 year olds can be trusted with such things. Lovely, being 6, of course sulked about that :) This is Hug's photo of his much-loved Harry Potter. 

Oh, and as it happened we were sat by a big map of Germany.

So they studied that. And laughed that there was a city called Hamburg(er).

And that was that.
Where do you most like to learn? (homeschooling or not :) X

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Comments :


  1. Cafe school sounds great! now why didn't I think of that lol! Thanks for those links, I'll have to check them out for sure!
    At the moment, I think 'school' happens everywhere around the house (mostly with our school books but also other things) and elsewhere too - in the car,at the library, at the shops etc as discussions happen everywhere!

  2. It's so true isn't it. Life & learning is all encompassing.

  3. Under shady trees. (I'm not a homeschooling mum - sadly- but notice that my kids are more enthusiastic about learning when outdoors).

  4. Beautiful post! I love the freedom homeschooling grants my family. We do "pool-school" quite regularly. As the weather cools we may find ourselves cafe-schooling as well!


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