With the COVID-19 virus still an imminent threat, families remain cooped up in their households for protection. Though some adults have returned to their offices, the majority of kids are still attending online classes.
This is far from ideal, given that all-remote learning arrangements are contributing to children’s emotional stress. A large part of this stems from the pressure of having to keep up with their education outside of a physical classroom. Findings from the CDC even show that the number of mental health-related visits to the emergency room increased by nearly 28% for children between the ages of 5 and 17.
As difficult as things might seem, there are small changes parents can make to prepare for better learning at home. Creating a conducive learning environment for your child is sometimes easier said than done. Depending on what you already have, it can set you back a few hundred dollars — maybe even a few thousand if you want to go all out. One family in New York spent $1,300 on their first grader’s basic home learning setup, which included a tablet, a desk, and writing materials.
You might also consider turning an underutilized space or room in the house into a dedicated learning space for your children. The benefit of this is that it can easily be switched up to a home office and ensure the room is available for studying and work even after in-person learning resumes. To save money, shop for secondhand furniture or electronics. Alternatively, you can buy school supplies in bulk. Regardless of how you choose to design a home learning setup, your child’s education will be well worth the investment.
Tips for building a conducive learning environment
Once you’ve either cleared out a space or renovated a room, you can start planning the necessary adjustments to make your home a great space for learning. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Establish a designated work area
Providing your child with a physical space to attend class and do their homework lets them know that you value their education. It also lets them create a more stable routine, which is important for children to stay disciplined and on track with their learning. If possible, choose a space other than the dining table or their room. This makes your kids associate the space with learning, and not eating or sleeping.
Ensure that your child’s desk and seat are comfortable
With remote learning arrangements, your child will be to be sitting in front of a screen for long periods of time. To turn this into a more positive experience, consider investing in a desk and chair combination that is ergonomic and properly fitting. This not only makes the space more comfortable, but also ensures good posture.
Invest in storage solutions
General clutter and disorderly spaces may actually serve as distractions for your child, making it difficult for them to focus. Additionally, cluttered surroundings can negatively affect cognition. For instance, a messy room can lead to stress for both you and your kids. Worse yet, a cluttered environment could leave you and your child scrambling to find basic household objects. Investing in storage containers for the kids’ educational materials can lessen clutter and reduce stress. Clearly marked storage bins and containers can also offer children the opportunity to be responsible for their own belongings. The daily ritual of returning books, crayons, pencils to their designated spot not only teaches children organization and self-discipline but offers them a feeling of control and self-efficacy. The lifelong message to the child is that in times of stress and rapid change, such as a pandemic, I can still maintain control of my own environment in order to affect a positive outcome. The most challenging situations can offer your child unique opportunities to hone better critical thinking skills and promote better executive functioning for life.
Consider building a library corner
Putting up some extra bookshelves can encourage your child to continue learning during designated free time. Consider adding beanbags and mats around the bookshelves to create a child-friendly reading hub. Several university based studies have found that homes with 80 or more books promoted reading and math skills. This is because being surrounded by stimulating age appropriate reading material creates a fertile ground for learning, ultimately improving your child’s cognitive competencies.
Just as adults need a designated remote workspace, children, too, should have their own dedicated space to learn. Making these changes at home can ensure your child has the best possible chance of of optimal learning in a less than optimal situation.
Caitlin Slater for babyplus.com