Just this morning I was texting with my sister who’s 3 kids started virtual school this week. When I asked how it was going, her reply was, “It’s hectic.” That’s how a lot of people are feeling as evidenced by a recent Wall Street Journal article about working parents at a breaking point. The juggle is a topic in my own household too given our son’s virtual schooling for at least the first few weeks.
In situations when I need help, I always find it’s best to ask those with a passion for the subject. So I went to family-focused designers – Alexis and Jillian. Alexis and I were colleagues at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Here’s what they had to say about creating a home school environment that works for you and your kid(s).
With another season of distance learning (or, at least, some sort of hybrid situation) looming ahead, the most frequently asked question we’re getting from clients is: How do I create an ideal homeschool space for my kids? As mothers, we’re still figuring out the distance learning/work juggle ourselves, but as family-focused interior designers, we know a thing or two about making a kids’ space that’s both beautiful and functional.
Find a quiet space away from TVs and major traffic areas in the house — the less distractions, the better. If possible, give kids their own desk, task lamp, and fun school supplies. For free-standing desks we love the Parke Desk and Hutch from Crate & kids, the Slim Desk from Room & Board, and the Fantol Desk by Article. For a DIY option that turns an unused nook or wall into a desk area, we love using two of the Alex Drawer Units from Ikea as a base with a wood tabletop (either the Ikea Linnmon top or a piece of plywood cut to your desired length).
If you’re tight on space/surfaces and the kids will be using the kitchen counter or dining room table as a workspace, corral their school supplies and papers into a rolling cart, like this one from The Container Store. Rolling it out each morning will signal that it’s time for “school” to begin, and supplies are easily organized and tucked away when you need your dining table to, once again, function as a dining table. We also love using these plastic lunch trays as a surface for art projects and science experiments, which help keep beads and supplies neatly together and can easily be moved to a different location when you want to reclaim your kitchen counters.
When designing a playroom, we like to create little zones – a dress-up area, an art corner, a Lego station, etc. For a well-rounded homeschooling setup, we suggest the same thing. In addition to a computer/learning zone, turn an empty corner into a reading nook (these bean bag chairs are cozy and fun; or, for a more structured option, we love the Huey Club Chair). Keep a yoga mat close by to roll out for stretching and downward dogging in between lessons. Gaiam makes great, patterned mats that kids will love. Hang a large piece of craft paper on a blank wall as an art zone. It will encourage impromptu sketching, maze-making, and tic-tac-toe playing, while also operating as a blackboard for working out math problems and practicing spelling.
Take advantage of the warmer weather by moving class outside. A kid-sized picnic table, like this one from Crate & kids, helps your backyard function as an outdoor classroom (and an al fresco cafeteria). We also love this Paulette Dining Set. Working outdoors is a great antidote to that afternoon stir-craziness – for the grow-ups as well as the kids!
Now that you have your distance learning area and separate zones created, here are some other tips, tricks, and supplies we’ve found to be helpful.
4 QUICK TIPS
- Working in the same room as your kids? Invest in a great pair of headphones (for you and your child). This set is super comfy (and safe) for little ears.
- Fitbits! We’ve been setting family goals of 10,000 steps per day, which has everyone taking breaks from their computer to run around the block or do jumping jacks in place.
- Fidgety kids? Try putting together a boredom buster box. Fidget spinners, Crazy Aarons putty, Tangrams – small, tactile objects that provide a little relief from nervous energy and too much screen time.
- If your kids keep popping in on work Zoom calls, try making a double-sided sign to hang on the office door. Green means Go, and they’re free to enter/interrupt. Red means Stop; there’s a work call in progress.
It’s a trying time for everyone, but the most important thing is to create a working and learning environment at home where everyone feels comfortable and at ease. Whether you have space for separate offices, or the kitchen table is doing triple-duty, even little tweaks and touches (like this colorful new set of school supplies from yoobi) can make all the difference.
Want more decorating tips? Sasco Hill Studio is a full-service interior design studio focused on clean, simple design for modern family life. Follow us on instagram @sascohillstudio, Facebook and Pinterest.