Little Improvements Go A Long Way

I saw this video about a ‘Buddy Bench‘ at a school – it is basically a bench where kids sit on if they have no one to play with, then other kids will come along and invite them to join their games.

I kinda really love this idea.  Especially as I know that one of my sons struggled with playtime when he was at school.

Yeah, I don’t believe in the school system, but things like the Buddy Bench makes me realise and ponder upon some things.

Design Improvement For Schools

Small and intentional design and community improvements could really improve a schools outcome/success/happiness-ratio/[insert keyword here].

How can schools create these kind of things to make them a nicer and more supportive place to be around?

If schools were design from scratch, in the modern day and with the end users in mind – then how would we go about it? What would we keep? Or ditch? Or invent?

Design Improvement For Unschoolers

Of course, I’m not that into schools.  So this makes me wonder, how can we improve things for the unschoolers of the world?

As an example, I’ve been holding an open house for unschoolers at my house.  The intention was to create a nicely and friendly meetup where parents and children felt welcome and safe to come.

It’s still early days, but so far it’s been a really positive experience.  I’ve met many new parents and kids and have actually managed to have a conversation with the adults.

It might not seem like a big deal, but so often meetups are not well planned.  People feel awkward. If it is in an open space, then they don’t know who the other unschoolers are.  Or even if they do know, starting conversations is often a non-starter.

I’ve been to many home education type events where I barely get the chance to share more than a few sentences with anyone.

No Solution Here

I’m not trying to come up with solutions here, or at least not right now!  I’m writing this now as a point for myself to remember, but hopefully others in all sorts of education and community environments can think of and identify opportunities to really bring people together better – in a more human and naturally social way.

4 Comments

  1. Gemma

    I love this Kindergarten:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/takaharu_tezuka_the_best_kindergarten_you_ve_ever_seen?language=en#

    And of course I’m a fan of Summerhill which I see as unschooling away from home:

    I often think the main drawback to home/unschooling is that the stay at home parent goes crazy with lack of personal development along paths that are integral to her/him. So I wonder how the homeparent could get 4-5 hours free each day to be themselves without childcare responsibilities. What I wouldn’t give for four uninterrupted writing hours a day! The most obvious answer for parents is send the kids to daycare or school. But you know the issues with that.

    And then I start to think about parenting share schemes. Say if that kindergarten in the video I linked to was built by the government, council, or parent collective then staffed by one or two maintenance and reception workers but ‘teaching’ staff were the parents of children in the school. Say the center is open for ten hours per day and there are two shifts where you might leave your child for five hours then come back and look after your child and another family’s children for five hours. If all the parents were dedicated to natural or child-led learning it’d be a happy, affordable medium. You could even build a co-working space for parents upstairs.

    That’s my best daydream on designing child-containing spaces that suit the user.

    • Hey, where are you based?

      I have some similar dreams. I don’t want a school, but a space that has good stuff going on with affordable support/care. I have so many ideas around this!

      I personally have a business that I run with my husband. We’ve been evolving and experimenting with our work, life and child care load. We currently have a full time nanny that helps us out. We still spend lots of time with the kids, but having that full time help really became essential for us.

      Really it would be nice if there was a physical place the kids could go ‘sometimes’.

      • Gemma

        It would be brilliant if kids could have a physical place to go to. There are toy libraries that we can bring things home from and playgrounds to visit but no indoor learning/play space set up for visitors. I want children’s libraries with librarians not just for books but for the materials and pedagogy that enable children to learn the things they’re interested in.

        Recently I’ve started learning website design and coding and I hope to make some comprehensive online resources for home/unschool parents to be able to access whenever their children reach new developmental stages. (Something less scattered than what’s accessible online but cheaper than a degree in child development or education.)

        What business do you run? (If you don’t mind my asking.)

        Having a full time nanny would be great. You must still have control over how he’s allowed to spend his day as well as having time for your projects. At the moment my son goes to a Montessori daycare while I job hunt. (Finding something undemanding enough to leave me energy to build my own business is tough.) My son loves daycare which is great and simultaneously confusing since I then sometimes wonder if he’ll love school as much as daycare.

  2. Alejandra Gutierrez

    Openhouse? Very interested! I have a 4 year old boy. We live in Los Angeles California and I am just starting to look in to un schooling to decide if I can do this or if I send him to school in a little over a year from now when he has the right age to start!
    This is kind of my first time searching, I did find some meetup groups and I am planing on meeting up as soon as possible. But I am looking for an opportunity to ask as many questions and at the same time make some friends for both my son and I.

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