For families that have just begun cyber schooling with their children, it can be a little intimidating to figure out how to “do this virtual school thing.” One of the pieces of advice we hear most often from experienced families is that it helps to set up a specific area where school “happens.” While some students may work just as well in a more relaxed environment, setting up a dedicated school area can be a great tactic for helping new families get into the swing of things.
By setting up a designated school area, not only does the student have sensory cues (lighting, touch, sound, visual elements) that signal “schooltime,” but family members also know that when the student is in the school area, they are working and should not be disturbed.
Here are 6 easy steps for setting up your school area at home (adapted from wikihow.com):
- Choose the location. It can be a whole room, or just a particular space in a selected room. Consider how much traffic the space gets, and whether your child works best when they have peace and quiet, or if they prefer to feel connected to others while they work.
- Eliminate distractions. No matter where you set up, remove distractions, such as décor and photos, and put up pictures and objects related to school (like maps, times tables, etc.)
- Provide a table to desktop to work on. Make sure it’s clear of other items, so your student can spread out his or her work. Provide a comfortable chair for your child (but not too comfortable!) and keep one handy for yourself, too, for times when you need to provide coaching.
- Create a supply closet. If you have the room to create an actual supply closet, that’s great, but bins and plastic tubs can also work for corralling supplies and keeping them close by. Don’t forget to label everything so that your student knows not only where to find items when needed but also where to return them when finished.
- Organize your area according to subject, grade level, or child. For example:
- Dedicate an area for textbooks and organize by subject.
- Organize all writing materials together—pens, pencils, erasers, and crayons all in one bin.
- Keep craft items—such as paint, stamps, glue, and colored paper—together, and put them on a top shelf so younger children can’t get into them!
- If you have more than 1 student at home, give each student shelves or bins for their materials, labeled with their name. Remind other children that those areas are for that student only!
- Set up a “sideline” activity area. If you have the space and have small children who are not yet in school, it can be helpful to create an area where the little ones can read books, do puzzles, or color while you coach your student.
For some fun and helpful instruction on “classroom construction” and more, click here to see PA Virtual staff member Cindy Willits’ videos!
What advice do you have for new families regarding setting up the school area? What have you found successful? Or unsuccessful? Comment below and let us know!