How to set up a homeschool classroom

A young child with blond hair sits in front of laptop

Are you faced with having to set up school at home for your kids? Do you wonder what to do next?

Take a look at this first step to setting up a strong foundation for your kids education at home.

 

While it always passes all too quickly, I always like the beginning of the fall season as a welcomed time to regroup. When we were kids that meant fresh new school supplies and friends! As a parent, that meant back to my rhythm while the kids were at school. But this year, for many moms and kids that means remote school. And the cozy regrouping with friends and getting into our old rhythm is amiss.

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My kids and I were a few of the many that were introduced to remote learning during the 2020 COVID Spring. That Spring all four of our kids were in school. The youngest was a high school senior, the next a sophomore in college, the next a senior in college and the oldest in law school. When school campuses began to shut down and shift, I had to as well.

What remote schooling meant for me

l had to be sure that the bandwidth was acceptable, the background noise was contained and the food (and more of it) was available for differing schedules. In hindsight, I had it easy. My kids were old enough to be self-directed, self-sufficient and technically proficient. And honestly, My Lovelies that I have raised and sent off into the world were home again for a while to chat over coffee and binge Netflix with me.

It wasn’t entirely stress-free, just different than what it would be like if they were younger:

Challenges with different grades and learning levels, different schools and different teachers, different learning styles and personalities, different schedules and activities.

I thought of the anxiety and frustration of all the students and teachers, homes, families and businesses. I knew it was a lot.

When summer approached it came with a feeling of hope that our COVID Spring was soon behind us. The thoughts of another school year repeat was something unthinkable for most parents and students. Where is our normal?

But here we are in September, the reality is imminent and the latent dread of the unthinkable for many of us has surfaced…

Remote learning is here, and it may stay for a while

In many ways, that reality is daunting. Managing the different teachers and platforms and links, schedules, lack of quiet and space, lack of school mates, constant messes that create visual noise and worrying if our kids are really learning anything is stressful. The struggle is real guys. I get it. And it can be a bit scary and stressful.

It can be scary and disruptive to do something different.

But, maybe it’s not that different after all. I recall when all the kids were home and in school. I did have to deal with different grades, and different learning levels, different schools and teachers, different learning styles and personalities, different schedules and activities PLUS extra-curriculars and social events and packing meals and driving everyone everywhere for everything – AND homework.

It can also be scary and stressful to feel like nothing is under control.

In reality, though, it might be more controllable than you think.

Setting up the homeschooling structure

Consider you or your spouse got a new job and were able to work from home. Sounds kind of appealing right? No commute saves time and saves money. All you have to do is create a work environment, a schedule, a system for technology and operations, and finally support for communicating with coworkers as well as troubleshooting. Not bad. Definitely do-able.

You know what? Having remote learning at home is basically the same thing. It has the same benefits and you can set it up in the same way.

I’m going to help you take what feels scary different and what feels out of control and handle it so it’s more comfortable, simplified and doable. AND we can address other underlying stresses along the way. I can’t promise to address everyone’s individual circumstance but we can definitely deal with the majority of the issues.

Let’s take all these remote learning stress issues and break them down into the same four steps we would take if you were setting up for a work at home job.

We will address one per blog post to control the overwhelm. It may not be perfect at first, but this is a process of honing and refining and it will get there.

Why? For Happy HOME rooms, and happy families. Because happy students are good students.

So here we focus on the First Section.

Set up a homeschooling SPACE

What is a functional work space?

For clarity when I say create a functional space, I don’t just mean setting up an area or physical space. In other words, you can look at a laptop anywhere – kitchen, bathroom, bed, table, sofa, airplane etc.
Instead, you want to create a functional workspace that addresses how to best support the functional needs of your student(s) so they can best perform.

What needs should be considered?

What the students need:

  • A stable surface for their computer device. Try to set up the screen at eye level and about 20 to 32 inches away to help eye strain and workspace.
  • Good connection to internet/wifi. (Boosters help)
  • An environment free from distractions so they can focus (perhaps headphones)
  • A place to spread out books, supplies, papers and projects
  • A place they can visually walk away from or put school away
  • A comfortable chair. For littler students, it is ideal if they can have their feet touch the floor. This position helps them to feel grounded. I have seen kids use exercise balls as an alternative.

Basically, they need to feel like they are still in a classroom and have a homework environment but with capacity for controlled background noise due to group sessions, and that they can put away or walk away from.

What you/the family needs
To maintain your home space and daily functions as normally as possible like things were before this change, a place where you can still take a call and manage your home. A place where you can still function with your own responsibilities, and retreat with family later in the day or evening.

TIP 1: Wherever the space is, it needs to be easy to clean, well-lit and organized. So if it is the dining room table, there should be nothing else on it, and you need a nearby shelf or cabinet to put away the supplies and laptop when not in use.

TIP 2: Let the kids help decorate the space with things that make them happy, and keep it as their dedicated workspace. Consistency, a happy environment and predictability help reduce mental stress so they can focus on their learning.

TIP 3: Encourage them to use a different space for reading. If possible designate a space to have a quiet room where the kids can go for being live online for music, or presentations.

TIP 4: Declutter the area if possible. Keep the area free from being overstimulating.

TIP 5: Try to avoid bedrooms unless they are really large. The kids need a place if possible to have as their own retreat. Working in the place where you are to have quiet can rob them of their sanctuary.

Additionally, that bed can be so comfy – which can fight a bright, working mind. If you have a bonus room this is a great option as long as there aren’t any other distractions, dining rooms, living room tables, or a guest room transitioned into study hall are all workable options.

*** These tips are largely for directing younger and early teen children. Older kids should have a better handle on becoming self-directed over their work. If your older student needs more help in that area, let them set up their space and observe how they are performing with the understanding that you can tweak as you go along.

ACTION ITEM: Designate spaces for each of your students right away. Get their involvement by engaging in discussions about promoting a good environment for learning and help them set it up in a way that makes it more exciting for them

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

The next step is to help set up a schedule for the school days. Read the post HERE.

You got this!

 

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