People are still adjusting to this new normal, moreso in countries where the COVID-19 pandemic refuses to go away or be controlled. As we encounter extended and repeated lockdown and quarantine measures, there is one group of people who is losing the chance for a more holistic development and learning experience – the children.
Countermeasures against the virus prevent children from going to school and engaging in social interactions, making friends and building their communities. It also spells some inhibitions towards their learning processes – virtual learning poses challenges to fostering healthy learning habits with lesser and distanced communication with teachers.
The space where a child learns is as important as what they learn.
Around the world, parents have had to struggle with creating a space where their children can have classes, discover new things, play, and fall in love with learning all over again.
We want to lend a little helping hand to these wonderful parents with some tips on how this can be achieved at home, no matter where you live or how big or small your space is.
First, here are some considerations to keep in mind when fashioning this place for the kiddos.
Photo source: Pexels | Julia Cameron
1. Create a purposeful, designated learning space
With a specified place, children will create this association in their minds that this space is for learning, creativity and discovery.
If you’re stressing out because there’s no extra room to redecorate for this, there are other ways to go around this – consistency is key.
- Dedicate a small corner of a room for your child
- Flexible learning spaces but always using the same foldable chairs and tables – once you open this, it is time to learn
This routine allows them to better identify and focus their minds on this purpose. It also shows your child that you value learning and education by giving it a regular home.
2. Choose a bright and well-lit space
Light is important; to achieve an effective learning space, you have to keep it well-lit. Artificial lighting, like blue-enriched LED light bulbs, is also good, just make sure it’s not glaring. But flooding the space with natural light is the best if you have that option.
Lighting affects children’s learning performance, attention levels and energy. If you have an empty space near a sunny window, set that up.
Photo source: Pexels | Kelly Sikkema
3. Keep it quiet and eliminate distractions
Children are more vulnerable to noise. Apart from getting distracted, one study shows that noisy classrooms or learning spaces negatively impact children’s focus, memory, motivation, engagement and overall performance.
Quieter spaces at home should be prioritized to optimize learning. Although, playing classical or ambient music may strengthen the auditory cortices of the brain – if your child enjoys this and can keep the focus, then you can play some instrumental sounds in the background.
One more thing, don’t have too much stuff. Decluttering an area also helps children focus. Too many distractions like toys, books and other materials would make the space look chaotic. Also, that designated space should be free from frequent household traffic.
4. Let your child personalize their own space
Since it is going to be primarily for your child to use, give him/her ownership in making the space their own. Encourage them to help when setting it up but of course, guide them along the way. Make room for their personalized artwork and favorite decor.
Ask them to choose some toys, pillows or blankets to make it comfortable but not distracting. If a child feels that they own the space and have a level of autonomy in arranging it, they are likely to be more motivated to care for it and use it.
Photo source: Parents
5. Make it comfortable
Like adults, children also need and want a comfortable place to study and learn.
If children are comfortable in their learning spaces, they’ll likely be more willing to extend their learning time – and this is super important for parents! Choose chairs and tables of the right height that your child can sit on for long periods of time (but remember, a bed is not a recommended learning space.)
Comfort matters but not too much or else they might just feel lazy and fall asleep.
Photo source: Parents
Well then, now that we’ve settled the important things to take note of when carving out a learning space for your children at home.
Next, we’re giving you some styling tips on how to decorate that space where your children will be motivated, excited and happy to learn and discover.
1. Use a big table for homework and craft
Children and parents can get things done on that large table.
A large work table even gives the chance to work together on a school art project. When parents guide children on different school projects, this fosters deeper relationships and may also teach children the importance of teamwork.
Sharing the space shows collaboration. It also gives more room (literally and figuratively) for creativity to flow especially for arts and crafts projects. Just make sure your tabletop is easy to clean, and pens or markers won’t stain.
2. Get a two-sided desk
If you’re more the tutoring type of parent who wants to be involved in your child’s learning process every step of the way, then this two-sided desk might work for you. From one side of the desk, you can check your child’s homework, give some pointers or read a story to them; and your child can pay attention from the other.
Photo source: Pexels | cottonbro
3. Create easy access to supplies
The learning space should have everything your child will need when they take classes and do their homework. Make a command center that holds all school supplies like pens, paper, markers, notepads and some for arts and crafts.
It’ll also help to bring in some file cabinets and cubbies where your child can store class materials or important papers.
4. Inject some fun elements
No child (or adult) will be motivated to learn and study in a blah and boring space with nothing to interest them. Design some visually stimulating materials and put them up on walls to inspire creativity and thought – allowing your child’s mind to wander.
Think about your child’s interests, what they want to explore and discover and put up posters of those like world maps, animal posters, dinosaurs, trains, etc. You can also hang words of positive reinforcement and pictures of family and friends to create a positive atmosphere.
If you have a child attending primary school, you can put up a bulletin board and fill it with interesting tidbits – schedules, homeworks to finish, artwork to-do lists and exciting school activities – making it visually appealing and help kids keep on track.
But be sure to keep it simple, purposeful and not distracting.
Photo source: DFW Child
5. Include visually stimulating decor
Along the same vein as the previous point, try inserting some fun decor and patterns that your child shows interest in. A colorful rug with interesting patterns can brighten up the room.
Or, what is your child currently into? If it’s dinosaurs, you can buy a large plushie or two of their favorite dinos and put them in the space. If your toddler is just starting on their ABCs or colors, you can use building blocks as decor – this way, they are reminded of what they just learned in a fun, enjoyable manner.
This ups the overall comfort level of the place and will also be one where your child won’t mind spending extended hours in.
Photo source: Homemydesign
6. Make way for a lot of storage space
You’ll need a lot of storage for the school supplies, homework, books, and other materials they’ll need to keep up with virtual learning and other discovery opportunities. Not to mention that toys will sometimes be needed for the little ones to motivate them to continue listening to their classes. But remember, keep them tidy and organized.
Ensure that these are low cabinets and shelves so your children can reach them easily.
Photo source: Pexels | Ksenia Chernaya
7. Incorporate labels for easier upkeep
Following the previous point – to keep all the cabinets and storage containers organized, the simplest way is to label them. Labelling also imparts some organization skills to children because it teaches them to keep things in order, where they belong.
Another way is to color-code – either by lesson, by item type, for homework versus arts and crafts, etc. You can use your child’s favorite colors to make it easier to remember.
8. Decorate with a lot of books
A book-filled home impacts children’s learning process and academic growth. Some studies say that immersing children in book-oriented spaces and environments contributes to educational, even occupational attainment.
If you fill your child’s learning space with books – and a lot of them, maybe 80 or more – you give your child endless chances to expand their horizons and imagination. You’ll also help them build vocabulary, increase awareness, explore varying new interests and have a multitude of diverse learning sources and opportunities.
Photo source: Unsplash | Laurence Katz
With this consistent learning space that is tailor-made for your child’s educational process, progress, needs and interests, you promote and motivate consistent learning everyday. Children see the world in a ‘brand new’ perspective all the time and there is a lot of learning and discovery happening at home even during playtime.
So molding this space for your child and making education a fun, everyday routine, may just help mold their future, no matter what kind of ‘new normal’ the world may be in tomorrow.