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  • Sharon Widmayer

A Space for Learning

Updated: Aug 12

What did my family do Week #1 of the Pandemic shutdown? Rearrange the furniture! Key to a successful learning - and working- environment was to make sure that each family member had a comfortable space for work. These spaces don't have to be large or expensive - I literally took a 20 inch in diameter cafe table from my garden and stuck it in a corner of my bedroom next the the chair I normally piled laundry on. Here are some ideas for carving out workspace in your home:

Multipurpose furniture - Townhouse living means for my family, space is at a premium, even more now that exercise class, color guard practice, and instrument lessons were all happening here, too! One of my favorite multipurpose finds is this coffee table with a top that lifts up to become not one but two desk surfaces AND also has storage. Here's another one with three storage cubbies underneath. Yay, storage!

Use wall space - How about a wall desk that folds up when not in use? Pair it with a folding chair that you can even hang on the wall to keep it out of the way. And of course, Ikea has a basic budget friendly version.

Wheels make the space flexible - how about this great laptop table that's adjustable height? Your child can use this to turn their bed, a chair, the couch, etc. into a workspace, and it can be wheeled out of the way or even used as a side table at other times.

Lap desks turn any place your child sits into a workspace - Here's one that even has storage!

Turn their phone into a learning tool - If your child has a phone, a flexible phone holder like this one turns it into a tool where they can write on a paper, manipulate materials, etc while their teacher watches. How? Set it up so that the phone's camera is trained on a part of their desk. Depending on how your child's virtual class is set up, they may be able to log in on more than one device so they can log in on their phone and the teacher can see what their phone's camera is seeing.

Keep organized - Helping your child stay organized will mean less stress for them and fewer interruptions for you. You might want to consider a planner or wall calendar. My family went electronic and has a family google calendar so the parents can stay on top of what the kids are supposed to be doing. Bonus - this also helps avoid arguments when the kids claim nobody told them about something or when they want a ride someplace when you are busy. I am also a big fan of these stackable paper trays. They hold papers, notebooks, pens, sticky notes, etc, and since they stack, they fit in a small space, like under that chair I used to pile laundry on in the corner of my bedroom. I can stack 5 trays - one for each class I am teaching - under the chair! Or how about folding storage? Here is a mini magnetic white board with pockets to hold supplies that folds for easy storage.

Make sure your kid can see a clock- I don't care if it's digital, analog, or even helps them learn Roman numerals. A clock can help your kid keep track of their own schedule and help you minimize distractions when you set certain times you are busy and cannot be interrupted. It works! Really! I will never forget the bliss of when my youngster first learned not to wake mom and dad up before the big hand was on 7.

Use your closet space - For years, schools have been turning supply rooms into classroom. Now you can do it at home, too! Add some shelves to a closet and turn it into a study area.

Invest in some 'do not disturb' signs - you can make your own or get some cute ones from Etsy. Not only does it provide a visual reminder of when your kids should not bother you, but it also helps make sure you do not ask them to take out the trash in the middle of class. Like I did. Also very helpful when you are Zooming in your bedroom corner office and your husband comes in to change his clothes!

Think about getting your kids a headset with a microphone - This will help them be less distracted by what is going on around them. Here's an article with some reviews.

Use the outdoors - Does your apartment have a patio or balcony? If it's big enough for a bistro set and it's not raining, it's now a learning space/ office. We've also taken a laptop and lapdesk to the front porch rocker. Have an older child who needs to get out of the house to learn? Many school parking lots have wifi. A folding table and chair (or even a lap desk and some grass to sit on) turns a space in the parking lot into a temporary learning space. But remind them to bring a mask.

Get a cheap white board - The white board in my mini-office is part of a set of 8 I got at a hardware store by buying a big wall board

and cutting into 2 foot by 2 foot boards. These are great to have to because kids can work things out on them but it's not permanent, so it's easier to try stuff out and erase. And you don't have to worry about having scrap paper available.


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