For many kids across the country (including mine), their school season won’t be business as usual. Some students might be thrilled, while some may be extremely bummed out and really miss normal life. I think we can all agree though, that no matter what, it’s a lot of change for our little guys.
One way we can help ease their transition into home learning is to create an environment that feels special and warm for them. One that is designated for their school work but full of creative and unique self-expression.
I’ve compiled a few ideas and items that parents may find helpful when setting up their new learning spaces this fall.
1. Organize it. I always start with organization, because a clean and de-cluttered area fosters a clean mind. Just like adults, children find it hard to think in chaos. Their surface or desktop spaces should be as clear as possible. I love to use makeup caddies as school supply holders. They can house markers, pencils, highlighters, scissors, and rulers. They can also be kept out for easy access while still maintaining a tidy feel. These can be found with a handle, drawers, or be turn-style like a lazy Suzan. I love these as they provide easy access for little hands.
Another way to store their necessary art supplies and workbooks can be with woven baskets, collapsible cubes, or clear Lucite bins. Depending on your child’s style and age, they double as room decor too!
Rolling carts are a great option to keep surface areas clean while having supplies, books, and crafts handy and nearby. They also come in really cute colors or can be spray painted to your child’s favorite color! Another bonus is they can move easily from room to room if your child’s learning does too.
2. Personalize it. Let their personalities shine! Use their favorite colors, characters or sports heroes and find some wall decals in that theme to put up near their learning area.
You can also gather several fun photo memories from the summer, print them online, and have them hung in a fun way. Let them choose the photos and how they want to hang them. You can change them seasonally too, as weather changes and as you capture new moments for them like their classroom bulletin board.
A personalized water bottle can be set nearby so they don’t need to leave during calls. The more things reflect them, the more they’ll like being in the space designated for them. Ideally, each kid has their own space to learn, but if they don’t, labeling or having some of their organizational supplies personalized can give them some pride of ownership. If it clearly belongs to them, they may take more care to be mindful of their space and things.
I feel passionate that just because school isn’t in session, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a cute backpack and fun accessories. Your child may need to tote school items and their tablet or laptop to another co-parent’s home, a neighbor, or a tutor. So let them choose a fun backpack to have. Add a cool keychain on it. Colorful or interesting folders will still be appreciated. Let them be a part of the choosing process for school supplies, much like if it were non-COVID times.
3. Offer (small) distractions. Lastly, incorporate items that may be needed to help with distraction. A fun but comfortable headphone set to block out household noise while on calls for example and for kids who have trouble concentrating keeping handy, put some thinking putty, stress balls, or rubber bands across the bottom of their chair to bounce their feet on.
All of these thoughtful preparations will also start positively reinforcing that summer is winding down and a new season is starting. You can talk to them through the process of how they feel about the changes. Ask them what items (within reason) they think will make this transition easier?
Taking the time to order the supplies and cultivate a designated and child-specific learning zone will show them that although schooling will look different this year, it matters greatly.
Good luck this year and happy at-home learning.