It may be back-to-school season but there’s certainly a “new normal” for students this year. If your children are attending some—or all—of their classes virtually, you may be discovering that the “temporary” learning space you set up last spring isn’t quite satisfactory for a full school year. The good news is that it’s not too late to improve your in-home classroom. We’ve got tips below.
Determine Where Your Learning Space(s) Will Be
The first step in improving your in-home classroom is to figure out how much space you’ll need and which area of your home is most conducive to learning. Is the current space large enough, or do you need more room? Is it distraction-free?
Look to create a homeschool environment that will keep kids focused, reduce stress and nurture learning. If possible, create three separate areas: one for teaching and working, one for reading (even if it’s a corner used as a reading nook) and one where kids can work on projects.
And don’t forget the outdoors. It’s a great learning space that requires little or no furnishing. When weather permits, use your backyard, or even patio or balcony space for some learning. This can involve studying flowers, bugs, plants, cloud formations, astronomy and more. Consider letting your child move their desk outside for a while each day.
Find Inspiration For Your Space
There’s no shortage of places to get ideas for setting up and furnishing learning spaces. Pinterest (search “homeschool rooms”) will give you hundreds of ideas for spaces of all sizes.
Homeschooling sites like Time4learning.com, Responsiblehomeschooling.org and Thesimplehomeschooler.com also have advice and ideas on room setups and design. So does the website Weareteachers.com, which also has a lot of free resources available to download, like free printable posters and writing/storytelling prompts.
How to Furnish Your Space Economically
Look through your closets, the garage, and your kids’ rooms to take stock of what furnishings and supplies you already have so that you can better determine what you still need. Your local “dollar” stores are always a good source for school supply bargains, and Craigslist or thrift store may have that perfect piece of furniture.
Before you purchase any big-ticket items, check with your children’s school, which may be making some supplies and equipment (like laptops) available to aid in virtual learning.
Focus on investing in pieces your kids (or your whole family) can use after the kids return to their schools full-time. Certain pieces can always be useful, like desks, tables, whiteboards, bookcases and more.
Get Your Kids Involved
When purchasing furniture or deciding which of your current pieces to use, be sure to let your kids try out the furniture to make sure it’s the right size and height. (If it’s not comfortable to them, you’ll be sure to hear about it from them sooner rather than later.) In addition, let your kids play a role in setting up their space, which, when realizing they have a say in their learning environment, could make them more motivated to learn
Even if you have a small space, make sure each child has something they feel is their own. If you set up a private reading area as suggested above, consider using plastic crates or shelving as “walls.” Have personal drawers or containers for their items. (A sense of ownership may also incentivize children to clean up at the end of each school day or after they’re finished with a project). Learn how to create a simple workbox system here.
It may all seem overwhelming, but remember that as a parent, you know best (or at least you’ve been discovering) what kind of learning environment works for your child. Keep in mind that there’s no lack of support advice and resources out there for you and your kids to adjust to this new normal.