Back to school is upon us and with many students not returning to campus this Fall, parents are setting up new remote learning work spaces at home for their children.
Creating a dedicated space for online learning will not only help your child focus and avoid distractions at home but it will help avoid a lot of stress while you may be working at home as well.
I can speak from experience, the first few days of distance learning in March for my family were a total disaster. My kids were stressed, I was stressed, and neither of us got much done.
But by making a few tweaks to my approach and our physical set-up, it made a big difference to the learning experiences of my kids, and my own personal time management too.
Here are some tips I learned along the way that will help you prepare for the upcoming school year:
Create a dedicated space that is specific to school work. Obviously where this space is located in your house may vary by the age of your child and how much assistance they require but having a dedicated space they can work at is essential. Further, our brains need different spaces for different things. Kids can utilize other spaces for various school-related tasks. For example, use a beanbag to create a cozy reading corner or inspire creativity by setting up a “makers space” with a lego table.
Keep your work area clean and organized and away from distractions. This can be tough especially when you have multiple kids. Here’s what I did:
I liberated a guest bedroom (who has guests now anyway?) to create a mini classroom feel with a long table and by placing a desk divider between my kids. Room dividers will work too or simply positioning tables away from each other give kids space of their own.
I also added a 27” all-in-one computer for each of my children so that Zoom calls replicate a more natural conversation with teachers than using a tiny iPad screen (a 27” All in one computers start at about $800, but larger monitors that the kids devices plug into are a less expensive option starting at about $80 plus $16 for adapter plugs) – Lastly I added super comfortable noise cancelling headphones to help them block out distraction and (remember every child’s head is a different shape).
Also don’t forget to print and post their class schedule so kids can see it for the day.
Make sure the space is comfortable for your kids. This includes:
Ensure the room is well lit with natural light and/or LED lights, and well ventilated at a comfortable room temperature.
Check that the table and chairs fit your child well with their feet touching the ground (or add a platform for their feet so that their feet can reach the ground).
Avoid spinning chairs, as they create distraction. I did look at what classrooms are using and bought chairs that allow movement while reducing distractions to help promote a focused environment (like the Yoga ball Seats or “Active Stools” or “Wobble Stools“)
Allow them to make it their own – the more kids are engaged in the process, the more they will enjoy their space.
Supply up. Make sure you have plenty of pencils, pens, post-its, rulers, paper and anything else needed for school. If possible keep supplies stored away so the space is not cluttered. Add storage like bookshelves or carts if needed so kids have all their school books, binders and notebooks close by.
Take breaks. Make time for snack breaks but avoid letting them eat and work at the same time. It’s a great chance to get up and move around between work sessions and it also promotes conscious eating.
Create a routine. I prep the room every morning so when the kids enter it, music is playing (I love playing string quartet versions of popular music to welcome them. You can simply turn it down or off if the music gets distracting.
As you set up your new work space, know that it may take a few days for your child to adapt and get used to it but you’ll start the year off on the right foot if your child feels they have their own space to learn.