So here we are! We are home, we are working remotely and our kiddos are homeschooled for now. Today we will focus on designing for kids. Their worlds changed in an instant and creating a world for their learning in your home can feel overwhelming. Here’s the thing, keep it simple!
As you know, prior to switching careers, I was an educator with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. I taught at many different levels. As I write today, I will dust off my educator’s hat and wear it with my designer hat when giving advice to create a nurturing learning space that feels fun and focused. Let’s dive in and take a look at key ideas for direction moving forward and to help your student feel like learning from home can be fun!
The first thing to consider when designing the learning space is age. Setting up a space for a toddler will be quite different compared to a teen, obviously. Sometimes you have to state the obvious.
What do you need to consider when setting up a space for a toddler – preschooler – primary students? First, they need the learning to be literacy-focused. *Giving your little one an area to sit and read with you, explore books independently will create positive reading mojo. In addition, supplying an area for your little one to explore guided writing as well as independent writing stimulates creativity. Let them have fun delving into this fantasy world through words. In addition, the younger learners need toys to have structured and unstructured imaginative play times. To foster this, use their playrooms with a library all set up, dress up clothes, a play kitchen areas, and building blocks of some kind.
Then on the flip side, our older learners will need learning areas structured differently. It can be a quiet, cozy corner with a chair or a warm blanket and pillows stacked to read. Older children will do a lot of written work during the schooling time, so a decluttered desk for their written or computer-aided work is crucial.
Now age is important for the stepping stone of setting up a home school, so are the interests of the child. Let’s explore this! Learning from home is an adjustment for you as the parent as well as the child. So intertwining their interests into this new experience will help to strengthen the routines and willingness. Think about your child. Do they love to learn about history, animals, science or do they like to explore other areas such as movie making? Is your child active and love to play sports, dance? This will be important to weave throughout the schedule and routine you create to ensure your children are captivated during the day. There are many museums, zoos, and historical buildings giving free tours. Also think about dance parties, scavenger hunts (centered around learning) and working on puzzles. Each of these interests also strengthens their knowledge or skill they will need in their school career.
Now, when designing this space for your children, be sure to keep it close to where you will be working so they feel secure and you are accessible. This space is dedicated only to learning during this time. Most people do not have large sprawling mansions to have a separate wing for home school, so we have to work with what we have and keep it simple. Be sure to minimizing the clutter in this area to reduce the feeling of chaos. Currently, in my home, we are using the kitchen table from 9:30-12:30 every day. At 12:30, we clean up and have lunch. After lunch is done and cleaned up, they have time to do arts and crafts at the kitchen table. The afternoon learning time is more mobile. The girls can curl up on a chair or sofa to do their reading and journaling.
Kids may ask to do their work in their room. Say no! They should avoid working in their bedroom as this is their safe zone. Bringing work into their personal space will turn the room into a stressful environment. Especially now, we want to create calming areas to help students to focus.
Now, I mentioned my morning learning routine vs. the afternoon learning routine set up in my home. The morning learning station is the kitchen table. Here is where my girls work on assignments from their teachers, as well as from me. They will do virtual field trips such as tours of zoos, museums and historic buildings together at this space as well. They will create presentations to show me what they learned while on that virtual field trip together. Multi-age learning is so enriching for any student! After lunch, we change up the learning atmosphere. They do crafts, projects, computer skills, writing, reading and math apps to enhance learning in a more loose setting. We build-in outdoor activities to keep them active as well. In the classroom, teachers keep students moving to keep them interested, essentially, we have to create that same vibe in our homes for the students to feel more at ease.
Your kids want to feel motivated and inspired and this can be a fun activity for you as the parent. I am not talking about a ribbon for all, but true inspiration and motivation that is unique to each of your children. You may not be feeling that right now, but for them, find a way. Showcase their artwork, print motivational sayings or memes. The older students love memes! Use it to motivate and inspire them when they are feeling down and missing their friends from school. This process is very personal so dig into who you are as a family and how you learn and are inspired and use it to keep the vibe fun and positive.
This is not a new concept! Children thrive on routine. Create a daily schedule and stick to it! What time does everyone have to be awake, eat, and be ready for the day? We set 9:30 as our start time for schooling at home. If you need help creating a schedule for your kids day, check out Pinterest or your friend’s Facebook page, everyone is sharing what they are doing. Schedule in snacks, lunch, activity, crafts, reading, instruments, include it all! Think about their 6 hour day at school. Now, the day at home doesn’t have to be 6 hours long, but include some of their regular activities. Keep their day seeming normal!
Teaching is a mastered skill that is not easy. You will not be perfect, you feel like you are failing them, but be easy on yourself! When the learning and teaching get tough, encourage play, a hobby and do not be afraid to use non-traditional learning methods. This is new to you and to your child. You’ve got this!