Homeschool Success Hacks: Setting Up the Space
Having our kids learn from home can bring with it a bunch of challenges. This series of posts is designed to help any parent who's child is currently learning from home, and I hope to provide ideas that will help make things easier for you!
Homeschooling can easily take over your entire home. Kids will start doing their work in every room of the house, and soon you will find yourself constantly searching for pencils, and pens, papers and books. A rush before every online class to get your child ready. Setting up a space for homeschooling is a great way to help reduce a lot of that stress and chaos. And in my experience it helps the child focus, and also separate their school life from their free time and play time.
Some families set up an entire room to be a study, or a homeschool room. If you have the space to do that, that's great! But I've found that just a dining table works fine as well. Most of the time, school doesn't overlap with family meal time, and adults can find other places to eat if school work is in progress at the dining table. I set up a bookshelf to hold all my school supplies and the dining table itself can be used for working.
The Media Area: My son attends some classes online, and I found that it was important to set up a place for the computer where he can do all his classes from. I have our desktop on a small table near the dining table. It allows him to attend classes, and also use the dining table if he needs to write or keep any extra supplies available during class. Having the computer in the middle of the home also makes it easy for me to monitor and make sure he's really in class and doesn't have any other tabs open- a struggle for all kids learning online in these times!
School Supplies: I want to avoid daily conversations about not having a pencil, or an eraser or paper. So I make sure I stock all the supplies needed. I have a caddy that holds pencils, erasers, sharpeners, scissors, glue and basics like that. I also have another box with extra supplies of all of these things in case he's in the middle of class and suddenly can't find a single eraser! A shelf with all these supplies also holds color pencils, crayons and markers. I keep the supplies basic, and make sure he always has a full set available. I've also been teaching and reinforcing the importance of putting the crayons or markers back in their box when done with them. Fancy coloring supplies, old mismatched markers or paints go in a different place (in his room) for times when he just wants to have fun. In addition to all this, I keep a tray with different types of paper- plain white, colored, lined as well as some card paper for crafts. If your child needs notebooks for school, stock those too.
Completed Work Basket: I found that dealing with all the artwork, notes, handwriting worksheets etc. from class everyday was a job in itself. So I set up a box/basket where my son can put all of his completed work in. Once in a few months, I go through this, trash what I don't want and file what I want to keep as a record of his progress.
School Books: One area in the bookshelf is dedicated to the specific school books of this year. Just the books, workbooks and notebooks that he needs for his daily work. I try to make sure that every day after his school work is finished, all his school books come back to this place, and they always "live" there. I also have another shelf for extra-school books. These are mainly things that are related to school but not a strict part of the curriculum. Things like extra practice workbooks, atlases, encyclopedias or other things that you might have to support school work, but are not part of the main requirement. I like to keep these separate from the school work, but still close, so that the main school things are always easy to find, but we also don't forget about these extra books.
Trash Can: The dedicated trash can for the homeschool area helps provide a space for sharpening pencils, and also helps my son clear up any bits of paper from crafts or arts every day.
Schedule: I also have a schedule posted somewhere in the homeschool area. This helps my son keep track of classes through the week.
Some random things: A clock with a timer helps see time or do timed activities. A whiteboard and markers helps me teach or explain stuff easily if I ever need to clarify something. Or just provides a change if we are working on a difficult concept. A way to play music if your child likes to listen to music while doing math or something like that. Ensure that the space is not too hot or too loud or too distracting.
Ideas for Younger Kids: My son is about 8 and these ideas work best for that age group. If your child is younger, you might want to also have a section with craft supplies like ribbons and sequins and stickers that you use for your daily activities. You can add a calendar to track and learn dates. You can put up alphabet charts, number charts and such to quickly reinforce facts that you want them to learn. You may also want to create some sort of reading space where you can cuddle and read with them (your couch is fine), and a set of books that they can reach easily. Games that help learn to read or do math can also be part of your homeschool school area.
Ideas for Older Kids: As your kids grow, they need to spend more hours a day studying, and they may need a space to study that's not in the middle of the house. All the same ideas apply, but make sure their space is free of distractions and allows them to study. You might want to monitor use of devices more closely so that they don't spend all of their study time on social media! A planning whiteboard can be a great tool to teach them to plan their study times and keep track of assignments. Don't underestimate the value of school libraries and labs, and see if you can invest in science supplies or books to support their curriculum. If physical activities outdoors are not an option, explore workouts, dance classes or other physical activities to help them stay energetic and healthy!
I really hope these ideas are helpful. Having our kids at home is a gift, and it's important to remember that- especially on the days it's hard! As I mentioned before, most of these ideas are just things that I'm doing right now with my 8 yr old son. If you have specific questions, get in touch with me and maybe I can help!
Follow my Instagram page @homeschoolmomnoida for more ideas related to homeschooling.