You may have heard of “car-schooling” or “R-V schooling.” As homeschoolers, we can and do homeschool everywhere and anywhere. A few years ago, I went through some health issues and I ended up inventing “Bed schooling.” Bed schooling is when you homeschool from your bed because you are dealing with physical or mental health issues that make it hard to get out of bed. Sure, we all picture homeschooling at the kitchen table, or maybe in a separate room of the house. But that is just one way to homeschool. I want to share with you an article I wrote in the spring of 2016 about bed schooling. In the years since my health has improved but we still use my bed for a lot of homeschooling. Once you read this, you may understand why.
Picture it… 2016 in a house on a suburban street, a bright beautiful spring morning…
Last weekend, my husband went out and bought a cheap bookcase to put in our bedroom, to support my bed schooling efforts. Yes, I said “bed schooling.” This year, the combination of real life and homeschooling became so challenging that we ended up homeschooling from the comfort of my king size bed. It makes sense to me. Since they were tiny babies, my children have thought being in my bed was the best place in the house. It is a place of warmth and caring, cuddles and giggles. Why not use that safe place to struggle with handwriting and multiplication?
I didn’t set out to bed school this year. We started the year just like any normal homeschooling year. Doing school work at the kitchen table, desks and the living room floor. But as the year went on, one child struggled with anxiety, another couldn’t ever seem to focus, and fatigue had come to settle on me like a dragon on my shoulder.
What seemed an anomaly quickly became our normal.
Gradually we retreated more and more to my bed. It was the best place in the house for my youngest two, ages 6 and 8, to relax and listen to the literature I wanted to read out loud to them. It was a safe place for my 6-year-old to take her turn reading to me from her little Bob books.
When my 8-year-old needed to be alone with me to struggle through something, it was easy to tell the other children they had “literally the entire rest of the house.” Another child needing a snack no longer stole his concentration, as it would have if we were working at the kitchen table. He worked at a lap desk instead of the kitchen table, in peace and quiet, and with mom by his side. Alone with me in bed, he had my full attention. Not half or a third that he feels like he gets if one of his sisters is in the room. He felt safer making mistakes on his math and working on correcting them.
And when my 13-year-old studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, we were able to pull it up on my laptop and watch in bed, pausing to discuss each scene, while her siblings watched cartoons downstairs.
Schooling from bed made everything else more manageable.
Bed schooling has allowed me to homeschool even on days life felt overwhelming and the house was too messy to walk through. It has made it so that my fatigue struggles did not stop me from teaching my children.
Despite what it sounds like, we did get not only out of bed but out of the house a lot this year. We had more outside the house classes and playdates than ever before. We left our house at least 3 days each week. Many weeks, we ventured out 4 or 5 days to attend various co-ops, playdates and, appointments. But we started each day in my bed working on reading, handwriting, and math in the safest place on earth.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Maybe my fatigue was made worse this year by all the things we were attending. I don’t know. I do know, that by bed schooling, I fought a lot less with my kids to get things done. If you are so tired you can’t function, it is much easier to be patient when you are laying down. Once I was feeling more patient, many of our homeschooling struggles got better.
Teaching in bed, also made it easier to tickle a grumpy child or to drop everything for some hugs and cuddles. We even took time to all sit and color together in my bed, each of us with a large hard back book as our desk. For some reason, that kind of thing doesn’t happen for us sitting at a table. But in bed, we can relax and pass the crayons. The age difference from oldest to youngest seems smaller when they are all sitting on my bed in their pajamas debating which shade of blue the sky should be.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.