How to create an at-home workspace for online learning
2020's classroom can still be cool
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As many schools announce that teaching will be either partially or completely online this fall, or, in areas where learning will be back in the classroom, families decide to keep their kids home, it's time to consider what study spaces should look like for school-aged humans who will be primarily learning at home.
Children need a functional spot that minimizes distraction and can set the structure for focused online learning, while giving them both the physical and mental space to get their school work done.
Whether you are carving out space in a bedroom corner or taking over the dining table, we've got ideas to help you create a functional place for school work, with a focus on making the most out of whatever room you have.
Create a workspace set-up
Depending on your living arrangements and how many children you have, finding and allocating a dedicated space for school work can be a challenge. But it can be done.
Utilize a pop-up desk
If you're in a smaller living area with everyone vying for a piece of the dining room table, portability is key. Study carrels allow kids to have their own space and personalize it with craft paper, printable calendars, and hanging clipboards to keep their work well-organized—and to make it feel more like a mini-office.
- Get the Watercolor Study Carrel at Oriental Trading Company for $19.99
- Get the Superhero Study Carrel at Oriental Trading Company for $19.99
It’s all about your supplies
If you want a way to keep numerous school supplies tidy, a transformed bar cart can be your answer. A three-level rolling cart easily transforms into a school cart that you can fill with supplies, books, and anything else your little (or not-so-little) scholar needs.
Speaking of supplies, broken crayons and dried out pens aren't going to inspire any kid’s creativity, nor will it spark their joy. Since it is back-to-school time, purge the old and bring in the new. Fresh materials will make kids feel like they are embarking on a new journey and inspire excitement for the school year, even if it's a virtual one.
- Get the Lexington 3-tier rolling cart at Michaels for $29.99
- Get the Tombow TwinTone Dual-Tip Marker Sets at Jerry's Art-O-Rama for $14.99
Invest in a supportive seat
An uncomfortable chair can really cramp a person’s style. Be mindful of your child’s posture and get them a chair that is supportive and ergonomic.
Look for chairs where their lower back gets support and where they can easily adjust its height to fit their growing legs. The comfy SitRite desk chair was designed specifically for ages 4 and up. It has all the padding of an adult chair, but it has been designed with the body dynamics of younger children and teenagers in mind. There is also a detachable footrest.
Get the SitRite ergonomic kids' desk chair at Amazon for $199.95
Light up their learning
Just like you need to do for yourself if you work in an office, ensure your student doesn’t strain his or her eyes. Set up a desk or work space near a natural light source, like a sunny window.
It’s also a good idea to purchase a dedicated lamp for any late-night study sessions. The Gerintech LED dimmable desk lamp is a wonder to start the school year out right, with a total of nine lighting options, a digital clock with an alarm, a calendar, a room thermometer, and a USB charging port.
Get the Gerintech LED dimmable desk lamp clock, USB charging port and color changing case at Amazon for $45.99
Use your walls for maximum impact
With increased working and learning from home this year, all our spaces are becoming multi-use. But sometimes it’s nice to be able to divide off the work aspects when you’re trying to relax.
Enter: walls. Use temporary ones for privacy and to spark focus, or permanent ones as added surface area for organization and inspiration.
Divide and conquer
Draw the line between work and relaxation with a foldable room divider to create a dedicated homework space—either in their bedrooms or in your home's common areas. Not to mention that room dividers screens are quite trendy in the home décor space right now.
But, for kids, we like this double-duty chalkboard divider that gives ample room to jot down lists and sketch out ideas, while also blocking out distractions and giving them the space they need to focus.
Get the Red Barrel Studio Weogufka Folding Room Divider at Wayfair for $146.99
Organize like a pro
The surest remedy against missed deadlines and late assignments is a large, wall-mounted calendar hung as the focal point in a workspace. GirlFridayAcrylics’ lucite dry-erase calendar with a space for side notes keeps your students’ deadlines organized and their days on track.
If your mind works in a more big-picture way, you may love mcSquares’ reusable decal to-do lists, sticky notes, day planners, and calendars. They stick to almost any smooth surface—from windows to walls to kitchen cabinets—making for a moveable, evolving workspace, should your situation call for that.
Kids appreciate mcSquares’ reminder stickies that come in fun shapes, and the weekly planner and to-do lists decals help keep them on track, even when they are juggling online events, AP classes, and college applications.
The vertical Fun Grid desk organizer clears up desktop space and keeps your kitchen drawers neat. The wall-organized workspace keeps what you need at eye level and instantly accessible. Grab-and-go items like rulers, scissors, and tape can go on a pegboard or open shelving, while hanging cups make organizing glue sticks, pens, and markers a breeze.
- Get the GirlFridayAcrylics dry erase calendar at Etsy for $89
- Get the McSquares homework kit at Amazon for $49.99
- Get the McSquares reusable white board stickies at Amazon for $48.99
- Get the Fun Grid desk organizer unit at Amazon for $89.99
Don’t forget to decorate
Practicality is key, but no matter what your child’s age, they’ll be more enthusiastic about spending time in their workspace if it has a little bit of personality.
If the space or your budget allows, let them paint the accent wall across from where they sit a bright color. But, if painting isn’t an option, let them pick out some inspirational artwork to help them keep their head in the game, like this nod to literacy: posters that are inspired by classic book covers.
Get the Le Petit Prince book poster at Etsy for $8.90
Make technology work for you
Then move on to some fun stuff.
Boost your connection
With everyone in your household likely working from home at the same time, it’s going to be hard to carve out a private work space without at least one family member hunkering down in that far corner of the house that has a wonky internet connection.
Now that schools are conducting so much online learning, including downloading materials, streaming videos, and real-time Zoom chats and breakout rooms—all of which rely on a strong connection—you're going to need to make sure your wifi extends to all areas of your home.
A great wifi extender like the TP Link is easy to set up and currently gets 4,754 five-star Amazon reviews. Coming in at under $30 it's a cost-conscious investment in reducing wifi frustrations and keeping the whole gang productive.
Get the TP Link WiFi range extender AC750 at Amazon for $29.99
Stop a surge
Maximize your power source with a mini surge protector. We love that this one has a small profile and rotates to help it fit into tight places, yet it boasts two USB ports and enough outlets to plug in a laptop, a desk lamp, and keep a table charged.
Get the Belkin mini surge protector and charger at Amazon for $16.39
Tidy up tech clutter
With hours of online learning in many student’s futures, device time will be a mix of battery-powered and plugged in, hands-on and hand’s free.
This Emily and Merrit bunny ear easel phone holder is made expressly for holding up a device, leaving your child’s hands free to take notes.
While they’re doing so, they shouldn’t get caught up with their devices’ cords and cables either. Moose offers a stylish solution to organization with a sleek cable hub that keeps work areas looking both tidy and cool. Simply slide a power strip into the box, place the wooden cover on top, and that mess of jumbled cords and plugs will be a well-kept secret.
- Get the Emily and Merrit bunny ear easel phone holder at PBTeen for $49
- Get the Moose cable management box at Amazon for $25.99
With no walls to showcase their work at school, your house is about to host an ongoing exhibit of school and art work—especially if your children are elementary aged.
Before you become lost under a sea of papers, you're going to want to trust us and have a plan in place to toss it all without inspiring hurt feelings. Scan school work into an app like Keepy, which stores digital versions of all the masterpieces your child has created.
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