I have never aspired to homeschool. While I know I’m good at many things, teaching my children in my home has never been on my list of goals. However, like many of you other moms, I now suddenly find myself teaching my kids at home for the forseeable future. I’m gonna be honest y’all….this prospect scares me. It’s not that I don’t think I can help my son (in conjunction with his virtual classes) but as a boy mom, I know that keeping him on task and ensuring that work gets completed in a timely manner while in a less controlled environment is gonna be a challenge. So, like many moms out there, I spent much of yesterday trying to grab the bull by the horns and figure out how to make this schooling at home endeavor as successful as possible. Here’s what I’ve come up with as far as how to set up an at home school station and tips for boosting productivity.
The first thing I did once the shock wore off and I realized that school at home was the new reality for some time to come, I put aside my worries and did what I’m good at….turning an un-used area of my home into the ideal at home school station. After researching and trying a few different approaches, here’s the important aspects that I discovered in setting up at at home school station.
Choose an Area That’s Easy Accessible (and Free of Distractions)
Trust me when I say I know the temptation to set up your at home school station at the kitchen table but if you can avoid doing that, I highly recommend it and here’s why. In my home, the kitchen is the hub of the house. It’s where meals happen. It’s where snacking takes place. It’s where everything ends up. You might be thinking that sounds like the perfect spot but really it’s not. If homeschooling were a short term solution (which I’m not thinking it’s going to be) it might work. However, I know that clearing off the table for every meal and then trying to set things back up is not gonna be ideal for us. Add to that the fact that food and drinks are gonna get spilled all over assignments and for me, the kitchen table was out. So, what’s the right solution? I recommend creating a space that’s still near the heart of the home so that you’re always close by but that allows your child to set up a consistent study area that works much like their desks do at school. A few tips that may help you choose this place in your home are:
- Avoid areas with distractions like televisions and gaming systems
- Make sure your study area of choice is noise free and not high traffic
- Try to find a place that encourages concentration (think pushing a small table into the corner)
Stock your Study Area with Tools for Success
Part of the reason it’s so important to have a dedicated at home learning area instead of just using the kitchen table is so that your child never has to look far for the tools that they need. I recommend asking your child’s teacher what items you should have on hand in addition to the standard items like pencils, notebook paper, erasers and tools that are age appropriate (think calculators, protractors, ect.). Many schools are going to a e-learning format so think of the best way to set up the area so your child can attend virtual classes. Please hear me when I say that I’m not encouraging you to order a new Macbook so that your child can be successful. In fact, we pulled out an old laptop that we don’t use anymore and attached a monitor that we had on hand. After adding a webcam (yup, we’re talking using a computer so old it didn’t have a built in webcam) and a keyboard, we had all the basics in place to ensure that learning can continue as usual.
Set Rules for the At Home Learning Space
Does your child have rules when they step into the classroom each day (at their traditional school)? This is the question I found myself asking as I set up our in home learning station. The answer for us was a resounding yes and as silly as it sounds, setting rules was a huge part of creating a space where work can be completed and learning can continue. These rules were pretty common sense but we needed to establish them just the same. Think of the same guidelines your child has in the classroom like not having a phone or tablet and asking when they need a restroom break. My littlest would take a bathroom break every 10 minutes just to procrastinate if I let him and while I’m not going to keep him from taking those bathroom breaks, the do need to be regulated just as they are at school.
Now, once that at home learning space is set up, it’s time to get to work! To get started, try out some of these tips for boosting productivity in kids!
- Set a schedule and stick to it
- Use a block schedule that allows time for work, play and breaks
- Lock down the internet and set up controls so there’s not temptation to web-surf when they are in virtual classes
- Be available to help when it is needed
- Set up times to review work and help with any questions
- Offer praise and rewards to jobs well done
- Be willing to listen to what is working and what is not working and make changes that are needed
- Stay in touch and communicate with your child’s teacher so that you can address issues/problems immediately and find solutions
I know that we’ll all be working on a learning curve in the coming weeks. Those of you who are not like me and never aspired to homeschool, keep in mind that you can do this. While your school is likely offering online resources, it’s your time to step up and create a learning environment and experience for your child that will ensure that when school does resume (and it will) they are exactly where they need to be to jump back in and continue on their educational journey.
Tell me, what steps are you taking to ensure that your child’s at home learning experience will be successful?