The summer is flying by, but one thing that no-one is sure of right now, especially in Texas, is whether kids are going back to school in September, or if they will still be learning remotely. It seems increasing likely that, at the very least, for most schoolchildren it will be a combination of both.
So while you may have got through the last few months of the previous school year with a makeshift remote learning space for your kids now is the time to start thinking about creating something more permeant and better suited to real learning.
Why Your Child Needs a Real Learning Space
You might be wondering why a child just can’t simply keep hopping on the family couch and learn there. Although that can work, it’s far from the best way for a child to learn.
Without a specific learning spot, kids get easily distracted. They don’t have supplies they need nearby, and there’s no sense of consistency. The family couch, then, as comfortable and easy as it seems, may not be the right option for children needing to learn about routines and self-regulation as well as completing their schoolwork successfully.
With a home learning environment, children can:
- See education as a priority in the home, meaning it sets a positive example
- Learn to investigate the world and understand that learning is everywhere, not just schools
- Have choices for reading and learning just for fun
- Set routines that support independent learning time and family planning
By making the effort to set aside a special learning space for your child, you are encouraging new skills and creating a spirit of learning that will impact your child’s life for a long time, even long after they go back to their regular classroom.
To help you get started, let’s look at some simple ways you can help in your child’s learning and growth if their school continues remote learning when September comes around:
Plan For Needs, Not Pinterest
For a lot of parents there is a pressure to create Pinterest-worthy spaces for their children, but you just need to create a place for your child to explore and be creative. Believe it or not, that can be a lot simpler than you think!
Think about how your child likes to learn and engage with the world! Ask yourself:
- Is your child an active one? Do they like sitting for long periods of time?
- Does your child like quiet spaces, or do they like sound engagement with soft music?
- What colors do they like? Are there things they find exciting, like superheroes or animals?
- Do they need a lot of options and supplies close by, or are they better with less crowded spaces?
- Do they like seclusion to focus, or are they okay with open areas?
- By thinking about the learning needs of your child, you will be able to cut out a lot of unnecessary items you THINK you need; you really don’t need a lot to have a successful learning space in your home.
Have a Space Just for Learning
Most families don’t have the luxury of a whole extra room just for learning. But don’t worry. If you are stressing about where to create a space, know there are tons of exciting and easy ways you can do this!
Instead of focusing on square footage and space, think about creating consistency. You can dedicate a corner of a room, but you can also create learning spaces that are more flexible.
A closet can be turned into a great learning space. Don’t have one of those spare? Fear not. For example, pull out the same folding chairs and tables in the living room when it is time to learn, or create a learning box you can bring to the kitchen table each day.
The key is to create a specific routine and spot for your child’s learning. At the end of the day, it is most important to show your child that you value learning enough to give it a consistent place in your home.
Declutter the Space
After designating a space for learning, focus on removing distractions. Remember, less is more.
Too many toys, books, and supplies can crowd a space and create a feeling of chaos. Create an orderly environment by decluttering the area. This will greatly help your child focus on learning.
Create a Comfortable Space
Much like adults, children need to have a comfortable place to work.
As a parent, it is important to look for ways you can make learning a place where children are comfortable enough to want to extend their learning time. So, whether that is getting them bean bags to curl up in with a book or giving them a small weighted blanket to alleviate stress when learning something difficult, comfort matters!
Make the Space Visual (But Not Too Visual)
The human brain enjoys being visually stimulated. So, when you create a learning space in your home, look for ways to create inspiring, creative, and visual places for a child’s mind to wander.
For example, hang small pictures, posters, family photos, and other things that create a positive place where a child feels inspired, safe, and free. Ensure any word posters have positive reinforcement statements.
Think about posters that a child will be excited to explore, like world maps, animal posters, or whatever else they might be interested in learning and seeing. Be sure to keep things simple and purposeful, and avoid hanging up too many distractions. Anything visual should add to the learning environment, not take away from it.
Create a Well-Lit Area
Believe it or not, lighting is an important factor in effective learning spaces. According to a UC Berkley study, low levels of light in classrooms affected students’ ability to regulate their natural cycle of sleep and attention.
Another study found that the more natural light (or lighting that mimicked natural sunlight), the greater the students’ attention span, scholastic achievement, and overall health.
If you don’t have windows that offer good natural light in the space you are planning to use, opt for lighting with natural light bulbs instead, and ensure that you create a good balance of both ambient and task lighting.
Leave Room for Growth
Don’t be afraid to keep some spots empty. You do not need to fill every corner of your learning space with endless books and educational tools. The learning space should have room to change as your child’s interests, educational abilities, and passions evolve. Allow space for them to change things up and add stuff.
Make It Personal
Lastly, and probably the most impactful thing you can do when planning an educational space at home, is making it personal to your child. Be sure the space plays into their interests and encourages your child to learn!
What motivates them? What sparks their interest? What do they love learning about? Answer these questions and you can start creating a space that they’ll love learning in and that makes them feel more comfortable.
As a parent, you want to ensure you are doing everything you can to help your child succeed. And homeschooling is tough, especially when you are not undertaking it by choice. By creating a consistent space for learning, you will help them succeed with remote learning while this pandemic persists and promote lifelong learning as a priority in your family for years after it subsides.
Need help creating a learning space? Just Organized by Taya offers in person or virtual consultations to help you do just that. Drawing on our expertise in both home organization and home decorating we can help ensure that your home will be better prepared to serve as a remote learning space, whether it ends up being used on a full time basis, for a few days a week or just as a place to do homework after ‘real school.’
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