Instead of traditional school supplies, many parents are finding themselves shopping for desks and computers this school year instead. With eLearning happening in states across the country, it’s no surprise that parents are looking to make more permanent home work centers for their little learners.
As a former teacher and a parent, I’ve got a few thoughts on things to consider when crafting a learning space. Here are some tips for setting up your own home learning space or homework station!
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5 Home Learning Space Essentials
1. Big enough work space
Virtual learning will probably require some kind of computer and a writing space. Even non-virtual learning often requires a large workbook or some kind of textbook. There’s nothing more distracting or annoying than not having enough space to get your work done. Make sure there’s enough surface to work. Tiny desks may seem appealing, but they can be a nuisance.
Depending on your child’s age and attention skills, you may want your learning space centrally located, or you may want it tucked away from chaos. Try to locate the space in a convenient spot for parental help, but not too close to all the action.
Free from distractions
No toys at the learning space! My kids all attempt to gather treasures and “decorate” their areas. While I applaud them trying to make their space their own, I KNOW these items will quickly turn into toys during learning times, especially for my 8-year-old son.
2. Ample Lighting
No dim lighting straining little eyes on your watch. Really, depending on placing your desk, there can be significant shadows on work spaces. Get a pretty light to spruce up your décor, or a hard-working light that serves multiple purposes, like this one that’s also a penholder and phone charger.
3. Comfortable Seating
I’m not suggesting you purchase a $300 ergonomic rolling chair for your kiddo, but at least toss a cushion on their chair so their little tushies don’t get tired. Plus, it’s one less thing they can complain about.
4. Supplies Close at Hand
When your child sits down to focus, you want them to stay there, not get up 3 minutes later to wander around the house to look for a red crayon. We have a small shelving unit right next to our homework station where we keep All. The. Things.
You’ll want to base this space on your kids’ ages and relationship. Are they able to share the bucket of crayons without a fist fight, or would they do better with their own supply boxes? Are they okay having access to markers? Will they need a stapler? Tape? Glue? Keep it as simple as you can while maintaining function. Paint, play-doh, glitter glue, beads, try to store that elsewhere (see #1, reduce distractions).
If you’re not going all out and making a dedicated homework station, homework caddies for supplies work just as well.
5. Paper/book storage
Oh, so many papers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s important and what’s not. We, as parents, keep them around just in case, which is fine as long as you go through them periodically to weed out the trash. Some kind of bin or basket for papers is key, try to store them vertically so you can fan through them. AVOID PILES.
Those are the basics necessities for creating a home learning space. If you want to go all out, I have a few other suggestions that can add to the functionality of a space.
Home Learning Space Extras
- A clock
- A display space
- Displaying your child’s hard work helps them feel ownership of their space, celebrate accomplishments, and it’s just fun. We have a large grid that adds style and function to our space.
- A large calendar
- To keep a routine last spring, I sat with my kids every morning and we went over the day of the week, month of the year, and important dates approaching on our large calendar. This can be especially useful for the younger crowd, but also fun for big kids, too.
- An easel
- Again, not totally necessary, but fun and helpful. You can write notes for your kids, have them practice their math work, write spelling words, write letter. Very little is more motivating to children than a whiteboard and marker. Our easel is from Ikea.
- They’ve got to get to those classes on time!
Setting Up a Home Learning Space
So, there you have it, my five basic recommendations for creating a home learning space, along with a couple of extra options to add some form and function. What else would you include in a home learning space?