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Coffeeshopschooling, a.k.a. Coffee Shop Schooling. That’s what I call any and all ‘schooling’ or ‘learning’ activities that happen at coffee shops or coffee houses. In our roadschooling and worldschooling adventures, my four children and I have spent
too many not nearly enough hours and too much cash to count at coffee shops around the globe. I only know with certainty that we haven’t yet made it to all 350 Starbucks in New York City.
Coffee shops make great places for homeschoolers, roadschoolers, worldschoolers, or unschoolers (as well as school students) to learn, do homework, or study. Many coffee shops have free, fast wifi, which makes accessing online course content, online homeschools, youTube videos, or social media a piece of cake. They also make the perfect place for full-time or part-time traveling families, digital nomads, and solo parents living a travel lifestyle–those jumping from place to place yet still needing to get work done.
Why Coffee Shops are Great Places to School Your Kids
Coffee shops are so unique in menu offerings and decor, even Starbucks coffeehouses vary from shop-to-shop. When options abound, like when I’m spending time in my beloved New York City, it’s easy to find a place to chill out while the kids study in a place that fits my mood. Like a shop with light-filled windows that lifts your spirits or a shop that’s tucked away in a city basement, but offers a cozy, secluded vibe. Some coffee shops nail the stay-for-a-long-time thing, offering comfy chairs or couches and great views, like the Starbucks on Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland near the Edinburgh Castle.
Coffeeschooling (a.k.a. Coffee Shop Schooling) Tips
1. Buy Something. It’s really the right thing to do. Buy anything, even if you just order a basic cup of coffee or tea. If you’re going to be taking up coffee shop seat real estate, it’s only right that you support the coffee shop. If you’re going to stay a long time, stagger some purchases so it’s clear that you appreciate your time in the shop and you’re not just taking advantage of wifi or seats that other customers could be using.
2. Be Kind to the Baristas and Staff. Whether you know you will only visit a coffee shop once or if you are a repeat customer, it doesn’t take much to be kind. A token tip. A smile. A thank you. Small talk. Whatever.
Just don’t be rude. I can’t even begin to tell you how many blatantly rude and disrespectful customers my kids and I have seen at coffee shops. Demanding that a barista fix your “grande, skim milk, extra hot, no foam latte, with a touch of vanilla syrup” and “add whip like you ordered it or else” isn’t going to score you any good karma points. Nor is complaining that the latte art in your cup isn’t symmetrical.
3. Kids, Be Kind too. Remind your kids that kindness extends to them too. We’ve also seen some tweens and teens less than respectful toward coffee shop staff. This also extends to respecting other customers, coffee shop furniture, self-serve counter, bathrooms, and asking for wifi codes.
4. Ask Before Taking a Chair. If you or your child needs an extra chair and there’s one that looks free at a table occupied by another customer, politely ask if the chair is available before swiping it (or give a little point and nod if you don’t feel like talking or they have headphones/earbuds on).
5. Wear Headphones. If you or your child wants to listen to music, videos, or game, headphones are a good idea. Not only do you minimize the chance of annoying people sitting next to you, but coffee shops can sometimes be noisy and distracting.
As I’ve previously mentioned in 17 Awesome Travel Gifts for Tweens and Teens, my kids like Mpow bluetooth headphones and I like that they aren’t that expensive for the comfort/quality and have survived many flights, countries, and coffee shops. Headphones also make it easier for children to participate in interactive online classes, like Outschool classes. Keep in mind though headphones help when a coffee shop is loud, but sometimes kids will still get muted (or are asked to mute their mics) because the background noise is too loud or distracting for the online class.
6. Backpack ’em Up. If you want to try integrating coffeeshopschooling (or more of it) into your life–mamas, it’s fun to get out!–get your kid a backpack and have them stock it with everything they will need.
My kids practically live out of their backpacks. Laptops, chargers, power converters, extra usb cables, iphones, books, pencils, crayons, pencil sharpeners, scrap paper or notebook, reading book, you name it–make sure they’ve got what they need, so you don’t hear, “Mooooooom, my computer is about to die and I don’t have a charger and class is going to start in one minute!”
7. This is a Coffee Shop. As cozy as your stay will hopefully be, remember, this is a coffee shop. It is a business. Hopefully you won’t need to, but if you do, remind your kids the coffee shop is not their own living room. It is not a playground. It’s also not a library either.
So talk, be chatty, have fun, get some good learning done, read a book, text your buddies, watch some gamers on youTube, but don’t run around screaming, don’t fart, burp, or climb on furniture, and clean up after yourself. No one wants to clean up your trash or snotty tissues bunched up between seat cushions. Yep, I’ve seen it. And so have the baristas in 15 Crazy Starbucks Customers Who Will Make You Never Want To Be A Barista.