How to Set up a Homeschool Space: Ideas & Advice
Whether it’s listening to a pre-recorded session, participating in a live lesson, or completing worksheets and learning materials, most children are once again having to adjust to learning from home. While many children are getting more used to the idea, there are growing concerns over the use of unsuitable learning equipment and improper home learning setups. These concerns are only likely to continue as virtual classrooms and the need for virtual learning continues.
If you are a parent worried about their child’s learning setup, or a teacher looking to provide advice to parents, this article will outline what a home learning space should include and provide tips and ideas for setting your child up for successful home learning.
What are the Must Haves for a Homeschool Space?
The most practical homeschool spaces emulate what children have in the classroom as much as possible. Of course, this doesn’t mean installing interactive whiteboards at home, or sitting and working next to classmates, but having a designated space for learning is really beneficial. Some of the must haves include:
Sitting somewhere with minimal distractions is one of the best ways to create a productive learning environment. This means working in a quiet place if you are able, away from any distracting noise such as a television. If possible, try to sit near a window to allow for some natural light and ventilation.
If you have younger children, particularly those in Key Stage 1, you may benefit more from having their setup close to you – for example, at the kitchen table or near to where you work if you are working from home. In contrast, if you have children in secondary school or in the later years of primary school, they may benefit more from having their own dedicated work environment, such as a desk in their bedroom.
If you can, try not to have your child sit somewhere to do schoolwork that they would typically relax in, such as sitting on a bed. This will blend school work and home life, making it harder to switch off from school during the evening and potentially affecting sleep.
Having dedicated equipment for home learning is an important aspect of setting up a homeschool space. If you have a desk or suitable chair that your child can use then that’s great, but don’t panic if you don’t. Sitting at the dining table to complete work can provide an equally beneficial flat surface and space for your child to spread all of their resources out.
In order to participate in learning during this time, children may require some kind of electronic device to be able to stream their lessons, such as a laptop or a tablet. If you do not have an electronic device and are in need of one for your child to complete their learning, speak to their school who should be able to help.
Ensure that you have the necessary learning materials in your child’s homeschool space, and have these easily accessible to help the day run more smoothly. This means having the appropriate materials from your child’s school – workbooks, exercise books, worksheets, etc. – as well as the tools they need to complete their work – stationery, a calculator, and anything else they may need.
How Do I Ensure My Child’s Learning Setup is Suitable?
Once you have everything you need for your child to complete their schoolwork, it’s important that they have a suitable setup. Having an improper setup can lead to decreased productivity, distractions, and could even result in health problems: not adopting the correct posture, or sitting in a position that puts strain on the body, may lead to eventual issues. Indeed, a number of children and young people are already reporting issues with back pain which may be caused by using unsuitable equipment.
When your child sits on a chair, their feet should ideally be flat to the floor. If their legs aren’t quite long enough, consider using a step or a footrest that they can put their feet flat onto. If they are using a laptop or computer screen, their eyes should be level with the top of the screen to avoid straining their neck. If they are not tall enough to do so, adjust the height on the chair (if it has that feature) or use cushions to boost them up.
As mentioned previously, think carefully about the work environment. Try to minimise distractions, although don’t try to aim for complete silence: your child is used to working in a classroom with 30 other students! Ensure they have enough space to spread their work and equipment out, as well as space to stretch out if necessary. If they are using a screen to complete their learning, such as a laptop or tablet, have them sit facing a window: facing away from a window can cause glare on the screen.
Encourage your child to take regular breaks away from their work. Nobody is designed to spend hours sitting at a desk without moving, so make sure your child regularly gets up and stretches out. Use lunch breaks to get away from the learning environment – go for a walk outside if the weather permits or do something fun in the home. Learning at home can sometimes create distractions, and taking regular breaks will help to increase concentration during the time spent completing the work. What’s more, if your child has work that they can complete somewhere other than at a desk or table, encourage them to sit elsewhere to try to break the day up a bit – for example, reading a book on the sofa.
Finally, if your children are using the internet to complete some of their work, ensure that they are aware of internet safety and how to stay safe online. Explain some of the basics, like not giving away their personal details or talking to anyone they don’t know, and tell them to speak to you about anything that concerns them.
It’s worth remembering that not everyone will have the same space and equipment at home. We understand that some children won’t have desks in their bedroom, offices to dedicate to home learning, or big kitchen tables to spread their work out on. Don’t panic if you don’t feel you can provide a perfect learning space for your child – they can work on the sofa if needs be.
Home Classroom Setup Ideas
Creating an engaging and inspiring learning space at home can be a difficult task. Some tips and ideas we have are:
- Make it look attractive – can you stick things up on the wall around where your child is learning, such as certificates or some of their work to help give them a sense of accomplishment? Can you create a sticker chart where they get a sticker if they’ve done something well and display this?
- Keep changing it up – sitting in the same place with the same surroundings for long periods of time can lead to fatigue. If you have a desk for your child, can you move it to a different part of the room? Can you rotate what you stick up on the wall? Even something as small as getting some new stationery for the desk can help to change up the space.
- Take away distractions – keeping distractions to a minimum is important for productivity and keeping focussed on tasks. Try to mirror what your child would have in the classroom: they wouldn’t be allowed on their mobile phone during lesson time at school, so can you put it away for some of the day at home?
- Stay organised – clutter is known to be bad for productivity, so try to keep on top of organising. Make sure your child’s work and equipment is tidied away at the end of the day and that all worksheets and books are kept together. Investing in a set of plastic drawers is a good way to keep all of their school supplies in one place.
- Eat and drink – staying hydrated is really important for concentration, so ensure your children are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Keep snacks close to hand, such as fruit or a cereal bar, that they can reach for if they get hungry.
- Establish a routine – routines are a crucial part of daily life. In times of uncertainty, including during the current pandemic, sticking to a routine as much as possible can help to produce certainty and bring some structure to the day. Completing a weekly planner is a great way to plan the week and give your child notice about what they will be doing that week.
With many children once again learning from home, it’s important to recognise some of the challenges and make them easier. Working away from distractions, taking regular breaks and creating an organised space will hopefully help to provide a successful home learning space in such difficult times.
What to Read Next:
- Internet Safety Training
- The Homeschooling Debate: Advantages & Disadvantages
- The Importance of Routine for Children: Free Weekly Planner