A Calming Place to Learn
Even though spring is far behind us, many families still cringe at the memory of frantically trying to find the right password for that class Zoom meeting (the one that started ten minutes ago!). Many care providers struggled with keeping track of a weekly calendar filled with online assignments and packet drop-off days. Add multiple students on different schedules, and most adults felt like they were hanging by a slender thread of sanity by the time summer break finally arrived.
Mid-August is here and “back-to-school’ will mean, at least for the time being, another round of distance learning. In preparation, we want to talk about the value of creating a specific ‘study space’ for your student.
Not every caregiver will be working at home, so if you are looking for options for day camps and child care, please visit our Back-to-School Resource Page.
If you will be working from home, keep in mind that creating a space for learning doesn’t require a spare room or extra furniture. Instead, it means finding an area of your living space where it will be easier for your student to focus. It gives a young person a place to settle into their school day. Carving out an area for school will also help your student take real breaks away from the work, which is important for their emotional and mental well-being.
- Clean surface – It’s hard to focus on a cluttered table, so the cleaner the surface area you have to work on, the better. Whether it’s a desk, dining room table, or counter space, make sure to clear it off at the end of each day. Your student will feel more relaxed and at ease sitting down at the start of each day. If possible, avoid working on a bed or couch. These areas are designed more for relaxation, and can both distract your student from the work, as well as quickly becoming physically uncomfortable.
- Easy access to materials – If you have younger students, they may need physical supplies such as worksheets, pencils, crayons, and counters. If your school is sending them home in weekly packets, make sure to keep these pieces together and within reach of your workspace. For older students, you may have a school-issued chrome-book, textbooks, and a notebook. Make sure these are kept together in one spot at the end of the day for a smooth start. Don’t forget to gather accessories like headphones, a computer mouse, and other equipment you may need.
- Consider your backdrop – Most school schedules this fall will include weekly online meetings, which may mean your student will be participating in video calls. Consider the background for these calls. Will there be distractions such as other household members walking past, a view into a busy room of the house, or personal items that your student may not want their classmates to see? If possible, set your student up with their back to a wall or non-distracting furniture (like a bookshelf or cabinet). Let your student personalize this space, hanging a favorite poster or artwork. A colorful scarf also makes for fun and cheerful scenery. Take a look at our recommendations for successful Zoom calls here.
- Personalize it – This area should ‘belong’ to your student, even if only for a few hours. Let them add personal touches that will let them feel ownership and pride in their study space. The more your student enjoys being in this space, the more positive their distance-learning experience will be in the long run.
When creating your at-home learning space, don’t forget to take a moment to consider the daily routines of other members of the household. Find an area that won’t interfere with those routines, and where the student won’t be easily distracted by others. And, as always, take good care of your well-being. Don’t forget to take deep breaths, move your body, and drink plenty of water!
For more resources for back-to-school support, please click here.