Your Child’s Home Office

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“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
–Benjamin Franklin

When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to abruptly shut down earlier this year, my family, like many others, scrambled to make distance learning happen. My 14-year-old daughter would sometimes work on her iPad on the couch, at my desk in my home office, or even in bed. It was emergency remote learning, with the emphasis on “emergency,” rather than on “learning.”

This school year, many school districts are allowing online learning at home to continue as an alternative to going back to school in person (or they’re offering remote as the only option). For kids who are going to do remote learning, perhaps the best way we parents can support them is to give them a dedicated place to focus on their studies amid all the distractions at home.

As students tackle distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic, they may find it hard to feel as though they’re in school when in fact they’re “working from home.”

One way parents can help? Create a dedicated office space for your child in which they will love to learn. Here are some of the best tools and tips for setting up a permanent or semi-permanent remote learning space for your child, now that their classroom may be your living room, kitchen, or a home office you have to share.

Designer Like Face Masks

Choose a location with as few distractions as possible.

For best results, your child’s workspace should have a clean surface and few distractions.

  • A desk in a quiet room is ideal. When that’s not possible, look around your home for other areas where you can limit disruptive sights and sounds.
  • Even if you’re tight on space, think creatively about any underused areas in your home: A hallway, closet, landing or corner may be the perfect office nook.

The younger your child is, the more you’ll want their study space to be in a central location. Some older kids also thrive best in environments with plenty of people around them, such as a library, so consider sharing your work-from-home space. If you can find room in your home office, a separate desk for your child would be ideal, so they have their own spot that’s not filled with your work items. If that’s not possible, you might cordon off part of your desk (if it’s large enough) or use a folding table for a temporary solution.

Other children, particularly older ones, may want more privacy, especially if they’re frequently in video classes and your presence is distracting. You can create a dedicated, semi-private study area by partitioning off part of your living room or dining room with a privacy screen, curtains hung from the ceiling, a tall plant, or an open bookcase. This will create a sense of individual territory.

If you decide to set up a desk for your child in their bedroom, make sure you’re both aware of the potential issues:

  • Unless your child has a lot of self-discipline, everything in their bedroom—toys, books, even the bed—can be a distraction when they’re not motivated to do their schoolwork. One mother says her 6-year-old daughter did her daily one-hour Zoom kindergarten classes on her own in her bedroom. But she was supervised during homework time, “otherwise it would’ve become toy time.”
  • Having a computer, tablet, or mobile device in the bedroom can tempt your kid to stay up past their bedtime, whether they’re playing games or socializing on their gadgets or doing schoolwork. (Like many people who regularly work from home, I keep my office work outside of the bedroom for a similar reason: It’s too tempting to over-work.)
  • There’s a chance the desk might become a dumping ground for items that have nothing to do with school, such as toys or hobby materials. Several comments from parents on sites like Houzz and The Organised Housewife suggest that some kids—even when there’s a desk in their bedroom—gravitate toward a central place like the dining room to do their homework.

Make It Fun And Practical

In the above space the stage is set for the imagination to be heightened with bright color and neutral wall tones for a calming effect all the while providing inspiration.

You could easily share this space with two elementary age kids by simply adding another chair. There is actually one wood drafting table (Being used in this case as the desk) and a separate storage unit side by side creating the illusion of a long working space. The storage units are perfect for each subject matter. Math in one, english in another, let your imagination run here and ask your child to help design the perfect space. We love the pink rug, the flower pots and incorporating your child’s name with a large letter is perfect for making the space their own.

Get more young kid distance learning essentials here

Essential gear: A label maker can transform any workspace into one that feels neat and organized. If you have more than one kid who’s in school at home, color-coded labels or stickers can help everyone see whose pencil case is whose, avoiding minor battles when siblings have to share a workspace.

For video classes, an iPad stand like the these can help your kid avoid craning their neck to connect with their classmates and teacher. A laptop stand like the Lamicall Laptop Riser can similarly position a laptop’s camera appropriately for meetings. Or you can invest in a webcamgaming headset, and microphone for the best full-time-schooling-at-home computer setup.

A few inspiring Distance Learning Spaces

Organize Their Supplies

Work with your child to fill their space with necessary, age-appropriate supplies. Here are some examples to start.

  • Cup filled with writing utensils: Turn this into an art project! Cover an empty, clean can with construction paper for your child to decorate.
  • Tray to organize markers, crayons, eraser, stapler and scissors: A plastic vegetable box, cardboard box, storage container or aluminum baking pan are all great options.
  • Writing paper: Have both lined and unlined paper available.
Essential Distance Learning Supplies

Many schools these days have moved toward using virtual calendars, schedules, and assignment lists. A physical reminder of a child’s daily schedule can still be helpful, whether you have an early learner or a student in high school. Consider placing a cork board, whiteboard, or chalkboard by the desk, and put your child’s class schedule on it, as well as your own meeting times, so you can coordinate schedules. As a bonus, your kid can decorate this area to personalize their workspace.

Teach your child to keep all of their school books, binders, and notebooks in the same spot, and let them know they are responsible for these. (I can’t tell you how many times over the years my kid has asked me where her math book or library book was, when it was buried under a stack of comic books.) If you use the keep-everything-in-the-backpack approach, this will be easier on everyone. Stackable organizers are really good for this purpose

Place and replenish all frequently used daily supplies—pencils, pencil sharpener, screen cleaning cloth, and so forth—within easy reach. And keep everything else, like a hole puncher, in storage bins (or even in an over-the-door shoe hanger).

Essential gear: A label maker can transform any workspace into one that feels neat and organized. If you have more than one kid who’s in school at home, color-coded labels or stickers can help everyone see whose pencil case is whose, avoiding minor battles when siblings have to share a workspace.

For video classes, an iPad stand like the these can help your kid avoid craning their neck to connect with their classmates and teacher. A laptop stand like the Lamicall Laptop Riser can similarly position a laptop’s camera appropriately for meetings. Or you can invest in a webcamgaming headset, and microphone for the best full-time-schooling-at-home computer setup.

Surprise You Will Need A Chair Solution

Many desks designed for school-age children, are the same height as typical desks designed for adults—30 inches. This height best fits people who are around 6 feet tall, so many kids will strain their arms and wrists upward to write at their desks. They may raise their chair to accommodate the desk height, but chances are their feet will be dangling.

The solution to this is the same as it is for adults: Adjust your child’s seating situation with pillows or other supports. For example, if the chair is raised as high as it can go, and your kid’s arms and wrists are still below the height of their desk or keyboard, add a seat cushion to prop them up higher. If their feet are dangling, use a footrest, a box, or other sturdy object to support their legs. If the seat is too deep for them to sit with their back against the backrest, use a lumbar support pillow to help them maintain proper posture.

Any chair is fine for brief sitting stints, but for long study sessions, get a height-adjustable chair with a backrest You can supplement with cushions to make the chair fit them better, so they feel more comfortable.

Include stress relievers.

Some kids can concentrate better when they’re allowed to fidget, or have soothing background noise.

  • Consider including a squishy ball, Rubik’s cube, Silly Putty or something else to keep their hands busy.
  • If your child is unable to sit in one place for a long time, try an exercise ball for a chair. You can also let your child know that it’s okay to stand while doing assignments.
  • If the workspace seems too quiet, relaxing, classical music sets the perfect tone. Just avoid turning on a television.
  • Bonus tip for parents: When helping your child with schoolwork, you should have your own stress ball in hand and let Google be your best friend!

 

Remember movement breaks and healthy snacks.

Don’t forget about the importance of movement and nutrition.

  • After working for 30 to 45 minutes, your child should leave the “office” to take a break, go outside if possible and engage in a physical activity. Weather not cooperating? 
  • After the break – also known as recess! – your child should have a healthy snack and return to work.

Your child’s “home office” isn’t just great for distance learning. Even when schools reopen, this dedicated space can serve as their homework station, study zone and creative workplace – which will set them up for lots more academic success.

A Few Distance Learning Essentials

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