This spring you may have experienced turning kitchen tables or family rooms into instant “classrooms” but quickly realized that sometimes these spaces do not inspire learning (especially under short notice). With many families across the U.S. conducting some level of homeschooling or remote learning to begin this school year you might be wondering “where do I begin?” Here are 6 things to consider when asking yourself “What does it mean to create a learning space for your student?” or “How do you transform your home into a learning environment?”
1. Dedicated Space – Whenever possible, select a space in your home free of distractions that can be used every day. Get creative and consider rooms that aren’t used frequently like a formal living room, dining room, or a corner of your family room. This helps create a regular location for learning and will help your student concentrate.
2. Calm Down Corner – Learning can be frustrating, bringing on a sense of anger, sadness, or even anxiety, specifically if learning at home is new. Kids will express these emotions in a wide variety of ways. Give them a planned-out space where they can focus on breathing and gain control of their emotions. Think about adding a stuffed animal to hug, Sensory Fidget Tubes to distract, or stress balls to squeeze. Maybe also include some visual prompts on other ideas they can practice to self-regulate their emotions.
3. Screen-Free Choice Space – Kids take direction all day. They are expected to listen to their teacher, engage in their education, as well as contribute to household chores. This type of space allows them to make choices on quiet, self-guided activities like memory games, science kits, puzzles, paper and crayons, etc. A fun and unique favorite is Makerspace Activity Cards with small bins of building materials (pipe cleaners, building blocks, magnetic tiles, etc.). The Makerspace Activity Cards have design challenges. Your student selects a bin or two to build the design and then keeps evolving it, stimulating their inner designer/thinker.
4. Visual Schedule – Post your home learning schedule with activities and times either at your child’s desk or on a whiteboard and also have a clock within their view. Of course, this assists in maximizing learning time and ensures that important learning objectives are not missed. However, by doing so, students also know what to anticipate and when, which can alleviate angst.
5. Be Organized – Make sure you have materials accounted for and details are not overlooked. Look at your schedule for the day and have everything within reach to assist in a seamless learning experience. Have your hands-on learning manipulatives prepared, and make sure your student has access to power for devices needed during any class webinars, pencils sharpened, paper out, and everything in order.
6. Realistic Expectations – From seasoned veteran homeschoolers to the new remote learning parent, there will never ever be enough love and patience in your home classroom. This is no easy task to take on. Be sure to give your student, as well as yourself, a break when things do not go as planned. It might be hard sometimes, but with a little perseverance the payoff can be huge.
There is no one–size–fits–all solution. You will ultimately need to experiment to find what works best in your home with your leaner. With this, I wish you the best of luck on a new school year!
For over 50 years, hand2mind has encouraged hands-on learning and discovery, driving deeper understanding and helping children unlock their full potential. With products designed to enhance learning in the classroom and the world around us, we strive to find new ways to encourage hands-on exploration and discovery.