Class During COVID

Creating the Best Home Workspace for Your Child

One organizer suggests creating a space that's free from distractions and stocked with school supplies

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Many kids ended up on the couch or in their beds hunched over their laptops when the school year abruptly moved to remote learning in March.

With fall upon us, you may want to set your child up for success with a designated home learning space. And, you don't have to break the bank to do.

"So many teens have desks and have never used them," said professional organizer Elizabeth Goodsell with That's Neat! Organizing. "And now is the time to dust them off."

Goodsell, who is also a mom, has some ideas for creating a functional remote learning space in your home.

"Ideally it's not their bed… or their favorite lounging spot," she said. "But kind of a different area that… when they get there then they know this is the mindset, they're kind of in the zone to start their schoolwork."

You want a space that's free from distractions, with an appropriate background for zoom classes. If you have a desk, use it and make sure it is stocked with supplies, Goodsell said. Have your kids participate in picking the space and helping to set it up.

Goodsell suggests having the kids decorate some jars for their pens and pencils and school supplies. Anything to make it more of their own space and personalize it for them.

If you don't have a desk, a folding table works as well. Or, create a mobile work station that you can easily set up each morning.

"Three-tiered metal carts are really popular in homes these days," Goodsell said. "If you have a child working at the kitchen island you can wheel it up. They can have supplies that the child needs, maybe the colored pencils, paper, there's a notebook, even an iPad. At the end of the day you can roll it back in the corner when they're done," Goodsell said

Another option is to make a supply caddy out of a box or basket and fill it with the items they need for their school day. If you have limited room at home, a privacy screen, curtain or even cardboard can help carve out a space Goodsell said.

"You can take one of those tri-fold kind of display boards you know, think middle school science presentations," Goodsell suggests. "If you cut it in half with the trifold, you can stick it on the workspace and almost create a cubicle."

That’s according to Ned Parsons, the Head of School at The Rivers School in Weston. So just how different will the start of the school year be? A fascinating and thoughtful conversation on how independent schools are gearing up for a very different fall.

Next, help your kids get organized. One of Goodsell's favorite ideas is having a desktop file box or a magazine holder that keeps papers vertical so they are more visible. She also recommends writing your child's daily schedule on a small dry erase board so they know what to expect during the day and when they have breaks.

Headphones for blocking out noise can help kids concentrate. And, don't forget about good lighting, an extension cord if they don't have a power source nearby and extra ink for the printer.

"The idea is just to make it more efficient so they're not wasting time looking for supplies, getting frustrated because they can't find them and maybe missing the lesson that they were supposed to be working on," Goodsell said.

A sturdy, comfortable or adjustable chair is also an important part of the equation. You may need to adjust your child's seating situation with pillows or other supports so they have proper posture, Goodsell suggests.

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