It is mid-September already; the temperatures are dropping, the leaves are starting to change colors…and we are still trying to get the hang of our children’s virtual classroom. No matter that we have planned and prepped, moved furniture and created minor mayhem, yet maintained the best intentions all for the sake of our students’ education. We are still adjusting.
Do not despair. You are not alone in your quest for the perfect learning space. If you are still fine-tuning, we are here to help you figure out exactly what will work best for your kids in their virtual space. Here are a few ideas to tweak and improve your students’ work stations, whether their classroom is the kitchen table or a desk set up in their room or a guest bedroom:
Write On, Wipe Off…Repeat
The easiest way for a family to stay organized and literally be on the same page is to use a white board. If your children are younger, the white board can be shared so you both have access to add assignments, projects, and smiley faces for a job well done! Make it colorful and color-coded with dry erase markers in a variety of colors. Allow your child to wipe on and wipe off so they have ownership and responsibility, and also, because it’s fun!
If your children are older and more independent, consider a white board calendar where they can fill in the days of the week for the entire month with class schedules, papers, and tests. Create a system that works for him as you support his autonomy during this new style of learning. Suggest keeping the white board calendar where you both can view it so you know when not to interrupt…
While the first few weeks of school may have moved at a rapid pace, now is the time to slow down – deep breath, parents – and keep everyone organized. Some students are better at this than others; it’s just a fact. But with simple organizational tools and methods, you can help your kids stay on track.
Provide a separate place for their individual school supplies so they know where to find the pen, pencil, notebook, binder for each day and each class. Try color-coding for different subjects, textbooks or binders with magazine files.
Also, make sure they are using a daily or weekly planner to assist with their organization skills (see white boards above if they are too young for a daily planner!). We don’t want them missing any deadlines!
Desk Space Decorating
Wherever their virtual school day takes place, this is where your students can shine by “decorating” their space. They won’t have lockers or cubbies to hang pictures or make signs, so give them creative license. Find school supplies from markers to folders in their favorite color or a mod new pattern. Let them pick a favorite theme and incorporate it into their work space. Make it fun and make it pleasant, and hopefully it will make them smile.
Light Up the Virtual Classroom
An often overlooked piece of the virtual ensemble is the desk lamp. Our students are spending the majority of their day in front of a computer, and as the natural light shifts and their school work takes them into the night, they should have an adjustable desk lamp to illuminate their space. There are styles to fit all budgets and work areas so don’t discount the fact that the soft glow of a desk lamp may be easier on their eyes.
Silence is Golden
During this time of virtual learning, your kids are not the only family members working at home. Siblings and parents must share the space, and often everyone is “in class” or “at work” during the same hours. The best way to alleviate noise and confusion throughout the house is to use noise-cancelling headphones. Your student will not be interrupted during class and your meeting will not be disturbed with a barking dog in the background. Respect the virtual shared space!
Take it Easy on Your Eyes
Let’s face it – no one thought our children would be spending this much time in front of a screen because they are required to…yet here we are. How can we make this necessity more user-friendly as our students sit in front of their computers for the majority of the day? Try blue- light reducing glasses to give their eyes a much needed break from a day of online learning. If worn, blue-light blocking glasses help reduce the exposure to blue light waves by either blocking or absorbing some of the blue light. It could also be considered a cool back-to-school accessory!
Take a Lunch Break
Typically this is the time of day kids look forward to when they are at school. It’s a chance to catch up with friends and blow off some steam, but who says it can’t be a little fun from home? Schedule a FaceTime call with a friend during lunch so they can discuss their favorite subject, teacher or sports team! Or take a break by going outside to walk the dog or jog around the block. Keep your students moving to increase productivity!
Make the meal itself easier by using lunch boxes that can be assembled the night before or the morning of, with or without your kids’ help, and then let them grab and go!
Take some time to regroup and rebuild from what has worked during the first few weeks of school and how you as a family can improve to make the most of this virtual learning experience. Learning from home can be made easier, and yes, fun.
You’ve got this, parents!
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