Consider these 6 things when designing your homeschool space, whether you're homeschooling or learning virtually
So, you have a curriculum.. What you’ll teach. Perhaps you’ve hired a tutor or teacher… Who is teaching. Awesome, you're well on your way!
But... have you thought about the NUMBER 1 thing occupying a teacher’s brain for the first 3 weeks before school starts? Setting up the classroom… Where your kids will learn.
Your space the difference between Productive Learning and Nothing Accomplished!
It is hard to capture the importance of a learning environment, but it can mean the difference between focused work and distraction; productive learning and nothing accomplished; independence and needing you 100% of the time. Pretty drastic, huh?
During my near decade in classrooms, setting up the space for optimal learning, independence, and community building was an obsession (no wonder I started this business). So here are 6 considerations when setting up your space for the school year. Let’s start Fall 2020 off with a space that supports the whole family!
(Once you've set up your sure to grab our free homeschool checklist so you’ll know exactly what you need to stock it with!)
Before you set up your space, consider these 6 things:
The Age of your kiddo
This might seem obvious, but your child's age determines how they learn. When our children are in pre-school, most learn in a play based way. It is important that we give them a safe, organized playspace and that we facilitate learning through play by infusing language and offering suggestions on new ways for them to engage with toys, materials, etc. As expectations change for school-age children, at age six and older, they need a balance of a more structured place to learn and a separate place to get creative and fire up the imagination through play. They need to be inspired!
One benefit (can I call it that?) of schooling at home is that we can provide more play opportunities throughout the day, even for older children. Traditional school transitions children out of play-based learning at an early age, but at home we are able to integrate it into their days in creative ways that work for your family. Setting up your space to support play and creativity makes integrating it into your routine easy. More play makes everyone’s days more enjoyable and productive.
So what does this mean for your space?
For younger, preschool-aged children, their learning can take place in and revolve around your existing home’s play space. If you need your kiddo to focus on a specific task (which should take no more than 5-10 minutes) and you find toys are a distraction, simply start learning time in a different space and transition over to play when you’re ready.
For older school-age children, the learning space should be separate from the play space. However, they should access their toys and creative materials throughout the day for a couple of purposes:
To practice and implement the structured learning more informally.
To apply their knowledge and practice problem solving in authentic ways
To take a creative brain break doing something enjoyable and fulfilling.
2. How Independent Are They?
Your child's space should be set up so they can easily receive the support they need. Independence is like a muscle, with more practice and more time, independent skills develop. Setting up your space to encourage independence goes a long way toward empowering and improving these skills in your children. It is important to also say that some children are naturally more inclined to enjoy independent time than others. Learning at home is different, so let's set up spaces that make kids feel as comfortable as possible!
So what does this mean for your learning space?
Until children want to flex their independent muscles (be it due to age or personality), they may need a homeschooling or learning space in close proximity to you or a caregiver. This may mean creating a mobile work station or adding a table to your office or work area.
At grOH! we design spaces to teach and nurture the development of independence. It is important to note that just because they want to be near you, does not mean that they shouldn’t also be very independent. We want proximity to you to be enough. Children should be able to get all of their items independently as well as start and clean up their work by themselves.
Once children are seeking independence and their own separate space, they will be more successful in their room or on a floor separate from you or their caregiver.
Do keep in mind that children (just like adults) occasionally need a change of scenery. Sometimes offering them a new space to work in can help them refresh and regain focus.
(For ideas on how to add a change of scenery and novelty to your homeschool environment, check out this post: )
If you have questions about increasing your child’s independent play or work time, let’s chat!
3. Your Home
Just as we need a place to step away from the stress of the day when we finish our work-from-home days, our children need to be able to leave the school day behind. However, much of choosing a space for learning in your home is dependent on the extra space your home has. We suggest finding a space, whether it's a full room or just a nook or corner set up, to devote to work, play and imagination. Think you don't have enough space for a custom playspace? Ask us!
So what does this mean for your space?
Every home is different, but here are homeschool/virtual learning locations that we commonly use.
A separate room/ nook/ corner dedicated to your child’s learning space.
If at all possible in your home, this is our favorite solution. Using a separate space for learning allows easy to delineate formal school time from the rest of the day.
Using a common space, like the dining room
This happens to be a very common set up in many houses, particularly our Client’s DC row homes! This solution simply requires some creativity. You can set up a cart or a shelf to hold all of the schooling supplies. However, you do need a distinct way to delineate “school time” and strong systems so that school “stuff” does not take over your common spaces.
Add a learning space to a bedroom or playroom
We can often find nooks or empty walls in the spaces we have already carved out for children. A caution here. Toys can be tempting, so we often do not recommend combining a work and play space together. However, as long as an independent child can stay focused in their room vs. playing legos, this option does also help kiddos delineate the time between school and home.
4. Your clutter tolerance
You have to continue living in your home while turning it into school. Depending on your tolerance for seeing “stuff”, you want to develop systems that hide all of the schooling items at the end of the day, or work really hard to find that separate space so you do not have to eat next to papers on your dining room table.
What does this mean for your space?
We recommend setting up simple and developmentally appropriate systems so that you and your children can both find everything you need and also put everything away quickly.
If you’re not sure how to set up your systems or find a dedicated learning space, we’d love to help!
Siblings can be a big distraction, especially if they will be spending their time differently. When considering how to set up your home for the Fall, it is important to consider the activities of each sibling and the space they will need individually as well as how to minimize distractions and maximize peace!
What does this mean for your space?
This might mean setting up two or more spaces for work or really strategically separating the homeschool/virtual learning spaces from the play space.
6. Your child’s learning style
How does your child learn best? You are the expert on your children, so consider what you know about them. Do they need to move, lay down, sit at a table, listen to music, take lots of breaks, etc.? Your expertise in your children will help you make decisions about what should be in their learning space.
What this means for your space
Once you identify how your children learn, it will inform where your home learning space should be as well as the materials you need in the space. You might consider getting alternative seating, desks, or surfaces for them to use. For example, a wiggly kiddo may want a seat cushion or a clipboard so they can choose where they do their work.
Interested in adding some novelty to your homeschool or virtual learning space? Check out this list of some of our favorite products to make your homeschool space feel a little more magical!
PS. Now that you’ve chosen the perfect learning environment in your home, make sure you have what you need to stock it. Download our free checklist here.
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Wishing you and yours hours of magical play time!