This is not the start to the school I was hoping for and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the same boat! But here we are, so I’m sharing my suggestions on how to get set up and organized for distance learning.
STEP 1: PICK A DEDICATED SCHOOL SPACE
Whether your kids have a desk or will be working from the family dining table or other common space, consistency is key. Kids thrive on routine so by giving them a consistent place to set up for school each day will help them get into “school mode.”
Your space should:
- Have a strong internet connection
- Have access to a power source
- Be free from distractions, wherever possible
(You may be thinking, “but my whole house is a distraction,” and I hear you, but really, I mean ideally not in their playroom or where things will be noisy and distract them from being focused on learning.)
In the spring, when we thought this was going to be more of a temporary situation, my 8-year-old worked from the dining room table and used my adult-sized office desk chair; my 4-year-old worked at her art table. With things looking decidedly more set for the fall, we purchased two small desks and kid-appropriate desk chairs that will be set up in a corner of the dining room. So we’re really just shifting the “school zone” to somewhere that we’re comfortable being a fully-dedicated school space for the next several months
STEP 2: ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE FOR SCHOOL
We know at a minimum that the kids are going to need things like pencils, paper, erasers, possibly markers, crayons, etc. Additionally, they’ll each have a computer, paperwork, workbooks, textbooks, etc. With all these supplies, you’re definitely going to want to have it organized so it’s easy to access each day, and just as easy to clean up at the end of the school day.
The #1 rule of organizing is to give everything a home to “live,” so getting these school supplies set up with your kids will give them a certain degree of independence because they’ll know where to find things and, when it’s time for cleanup, they’ll know where to put it all away. And that’s definitely a win in my book!
If your child/children will be set up at a desk, a simple desk drawer organizer will help keep those supplies tidy and accessible. If you need something a little more portable – for kids who may be working at a kitchen counter or the dining table – the organizing tools you use will be dictated by your space and desired aesthetic. That said, here are some of my favorites:
- 3-Tier Rolling Cart > Conveniently roll everything to your “school” location
- Paper Tray > Perfect to contain things in a spare drawer
- Upright Bin > Great for storing things on a shelf or countertop
- Beautiful Basket > To seamlessly blend with home décor
- Kids headphones > Particularly if multiple family members are working in the same room
Additionally, I also recommend using a wall calendar that you can use as your ‘Distance Learning Command Center’ to help stay on top of important calls, meetings and activities. (Tip: Use a different color for each child.)
STEP 3: CREATE ROUTINES
The final step is to consider creating some focus around routines. Having school routines like the ones we have during a normal academic year can really help set the tone for your child’s distance learning experience each day. Here are a few you may want to consider as we kick off this new adventure:
- Morning self-care time for mom/dad (before the kids are up)
- Established morning wake up time
- Morning routine (brush teeth, make bed, get dressed, have breakfast)
- Get set up for the school day
- Clean up at the end of the school day
- Established “school night” bedtime
Finally, I know that some days will be easier than others, but I take comfort in the fact that we are walking this journey together. I’m talking to you, my fellow parent! Let’s be kind to ourselves and to one another, because we’re all doing the best that we can in light of the circumstances. We’ve got this!