Most schools have now reopened, and students across the nation and the world are back to learning in person. But, that doesn’t mean that remote learning is over. Plenty of schools still follow a hybrid model, and some students who fared better in remote learning conditions have stuck with virtual classrooms. This means that parents must know how to set up a productive learning space, both for remote learning and as a great study area.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help parents and guardians who want to create a home learning space. This means that whatever your budget, every student can have their own space to study for exams and complete homework.
What does a productive home learning space look like?
At the start of the pandemic, students had to make do like the rest of us. Remote learning usually occurred in bedrooms and on kitchen tables. These spaces are hardly ideal for learning and can easily lead to distraction.
You should start by identifying a quiet, distraction-free room for learning. Just as adults have home offices, children need a space associated with learning. This might sound excessive, but the children who flourished in remote learning conditions were able to cut out distractions and focus on the tasks in front of them.
If there isn’t room at home for a permanent home learning space, you can opt for a semi-permanent study space in distraction-free rooms. For example, from eight AM to four PM, the living room can be converted into a learning space by removing the TV and replacing it with a desk, chair, and monitor. Of course, this solution isn’t ideal, but it is the next best option for parents working with limited space.
Here are more ideas for creating a good home learning space:
Replicating a classroom environment
Providing a productive home learning space is about more than plonking down a desk and monitor in the corner of a room. A truly invigorating study space should inspire children to learn and reinforce positive habits.
Begin by decluttering the intended study space. Research shows that a clutter-free space lowers stress and promotes focus, which is necessary for good study habits. Go easy on the decorations, too. A few fidget tools might be helpful, but a desk filled with spinners and gadgets is unlikely to be helpful.
When purchasing furniture for the study space, always consider two factors: comfort and cleaning. A minimalist wooden desk might look cool, but without adequate storage, it won’t be practical or useful. Instead, try to choose furniture that is big on organization and easy to clean. Usually, this means you will want to opt for plain plastic or wood desks, chairs, and organization stations (decorating these spaces comes later).
A child’s study space should also be well lit and make maximum use of natural lighting. Students who learn in naturally lit spaces outperform their peers in dimly-lit classrooms by 25% and may feel less anxious and stressed. So, try to position desks near windows and skylights but be aware of glare and the potential for outside distractions.
Decorating and making it fun
Practicality and cleanliness are the most important factors when setting up a productive home learning space. But, that doesn’t mean that the study space you create should be a boring replication of a school classroom. Instead, try to make the room fun for children so they associate the home learning space with enjoyable activities.
Before buying globes and hanging framed images of Einstein, speak to your child and find out what they like about school. If they’re passionate about geography, you can theme the learning space on nature and decorate it with images of mountains and maps. If they prefer literature, try your hand at typography and paint a quote from their favorite writer on a wall.
Creating a virtual space
Edtech has revolutionized the way students learn. Technology is particularly helpful for fully remote learners who don’t receive physical educational materials while at school. Educational apps can also help with reading comprehension and present information in new and interesting ways to better engage learners. However, the prevalence of edtech means that you need to create an intentional virtual learning environment for your child, too.
Setting up edtech in a home learning space isn’t too difficult. Your child just needs adequate access to “fast-enough” internet. You can test your internet speed and should aim for a download speed of at least 25Mbps. Plus, you can easily extend the reach of your router by purchasing a wifi extender or booster for their room if needed.
Edtech is incredibly helpful, but you’ll still need to ensure that your children stay safe while online. Antivirus software and enhanced privacy settings should be a part of your child’s virtual learning environment, and you should consider running a screen mirroring app on your child’s school computer if you want to see what they’re doing while learning remotely.
Home learning with multiple children
Creating a home learning space that serves the needs of multiple children can be a little tricky. You’ll need to ensure that all your children have equal access to the tech and have the space they need to learn.
As a general rule, you should avoid sharing any resources used for learning and put some distance between your kids while studying or in a remote school. Each child will need their own computer during the day, and desks should face away from each other as teachers won’t be able to stop chatterboxes at home.
If possible, try to instill a sense of responsibility in older children and have them act as school monitors during the day. This can help develop self-efficacy in online learners, and younger students will pick up good habits from the example of their responsible siblings.
Setting up a home learning space
Creating a productive home learning space is all about planning and preparation. Before the semester starts, create a distraction-free space for your child. Ideally, this space will contain all the resources they need and will have access to plenty of natural light. You should also involve your child while decorating and can make a space together that reflects their academic interests. If you have more than one student learning from home, try to lean on older siblings to develop a sense of responsibility and keep everyone on track during the school day.
Charlie Fletcher is a writer and former preschool teacher from the lovely “city of trees”, Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great outdoors or geeking out over the latest Game of Thrones fan theories.