Back-to-school sure looks different for the start of the 2020-21 school year. In many places, virtual learning means your kids are home schooling, whether you like it or not. But just as you need a functional, yet comfortable space in which to work, so do the kids. This isn’t like when they are doing their homework at the kitchen table. Get them set up for success in this weird new time of school.

Give ‘Em Some Space

Who doesn’t want to have their own office to get work done? Keep your kids focused and distraction-free by setting them up in their own dedicated space in the home, free from interruptions from you, pets, and other siblings. The kids will be on video all day and need quiet. They also need to feel they have moved into their school environment and that it is time to focus, so it’s best if you can keep them off the couch and out of their bedrooms.

If you don’t have the room to separate the kids, create “cubicles” by dividing the area you do have with a bookshelf, a curtain or even tall plants. If there is too much noise, consider adding a fan to produce some white noise and giving your children noise-canceling headphones. And if you have children that have trouble staying focused, make sure their workspace faces a wall rather than a window to curb daydreaming.

Time for a Boost

If there was ever a time your Wi-Fi will be tested, it is now. Live streaming classrooms require business-worthy internet so if you haven’t boosted your internet through your provider, do so. If you have a large home, consider adding Wi-Fi extenders that will help throw signals further across the house. Make sure your Wi-Fi is also password protected so no one else is draining your internet (and for online safety).

Because kids will be online all day, when they do finish with school, keep them off their devices to give their eyes (and brains) a break. Recess was all about playtime, so be sure your kids get some time to stretch out and run around.

New Age School Supplies

The kids don’t need a 3-inch binder with folders and dividers to separate their classes when they are staying home. Instead, hit the office supply store for desk trays and files where they can divide up their classes and have easy access when they switch to a different Zoom. Desk lamps, desktop pencil holders, Post-It notes, wall or desk calendars… and, of course, a desk; you’ll need all of these. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be big enough for their laptops, files and space to write. A comfortable chair is important since they will be sitting all day; this isn’t the time for a flimsy folding chair.

If you have kids in elementary school, stock up on art supplies and carve out a crafting space to give them a chance to paint, cut, color, and glue. A comfortable spot on the floor filled with pillows can become a great reading nook, and gives them a break from a chair.

Go Ergonomic

Not only should children be comfortable, they need to be properly positioned to perform at their best. Desk space should be proportionate to your child: If you have young children, for example, their feet should touch the floor when they sit, so be sure the chair and desk isn’t too big. If they are using a laptop, help the screen be closer to eye level by adding a laptop stand. The lighting you use makes a difference, as well. Warm lighting can help reduce eye strain and can be produced with LED bulbs and natural light from windows.

This is an unusual time, so don’t worry about being perfect. Their at-home classroom needs to work for them, so be sure to ask for their input in being comfortable and adjust as they go and realize what else they may need. This is a learning process for us all but we’ve got this!

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About Lissa Poirot

Lissa Poirot is an award-winning lifestyle writer who covers health, wellness and travel. Her work has appeared on websites such as WebMD, FamilyVacationCritic and the New York Times, as well as print in magazines including Vegetarian Times and Arthritis Today.

View all posts by Lissa Poirot

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