Decided to permanently switch over to home-schooling? Having the ideal space for successful learning to take place, is more important than ever.
WORDS: MARANA BRAND – IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK
The uncertainty of school closures and re-openings during lockdown has caused many parents to consider the alternative of home-schooling. Even after life returns to normal, many will likely continue working remotely while their children continue to learn from home.
Anyone who is home-schooling knows how beneficial it is to have a separate workspace where children can focus on the task at hand.
Homes with their own dedicated learning spaces are therefore likely to become more sought-after and appreciate in value over time, increasing a home’s resale value. “Home classroom spaces might become as sought after as home office spaces following this pandemic,” reckons Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO, RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
The most effective way to set up a home-schooling environment is to dedicate one room in the home as the children’s workspace. “For those who do not have an entire room in the home available, it is often better to combine the children’s workspace with the home office space than to set up their workspace in the living room or bedroom where the children can be easily distracted,” Goslett says.
Another reason the bedroom is not the best idea to let children work in, is that this space should remain an area they associate with relaxation.
Create the space
Consider your child’s study style. One child may want to sit facing a blank wall, another may prefer your Pilates ball to a chair.
If she’s easily distracted, a secluded, quiet spot is best, but if she’s more comfortable working with other people around, choose a corner in a busier room with good lighting. Make sure the area is free of clutter and that other family members respect “homework time”.
Create an area in the house where your child can focus on schoolwork with limited distractions. Turn off the TV and make sure electronics that aren’t essential for learning are parked in the charger.
It’s important to set up an actual surface space for children to work on – any table clear of clutter where they can sit upright will be just fine. “If possible, provide a chair-and-table situation that allows for the 90-90-90 angle rule – knees bent at a 90-degree angle as well as hips and torso at a 90-degree angle and feet firmly on the floor,” recommends Tara Martello, founder of Grow Thru Play.
About the chair
It’s important that your child has comfortable seating. If you can afford to buy an adjustable chair, that’s great, but you can also adjust your existing furniture by stacking pillows on the seat. If your child’s feet don’t rest on the floor, use something like a footrest, boxes, or stacked magazines.
A final tip is to use a rolled-up towel or small pillow between the back of the chair and the child’s lower back to provide lumbar support.
No matter where your child does her homework, the space should have bright lighting, with supplies close at hand.
Once you’ve got the space and furniture covered, stock up on basic supplies. For younger children, also include arts and crafts materials. For older children, include essentials like a dictionary, thesaurus, and an atlas. Use colourful jars to hold supplies, or for a portable option, use plastic stackable cubes or even a sturdy shoebox.
“Dining room spaces can also be easily converted into a classroom space. However, sellers should consult a local real estate practitioner to find out whether having a functional dining room space will be more appealing to buyers in that market than a home classroom space would be,” Goslett cautions homeowners who consider selling their homes.
In households that have only one table for the family to work at, try to assign different seats and sections to each family member. “The more designated, the better,” Martello says, as structure is essential.
To keep siblings focussed on their work instead of playing with (or annoying) each other, consider sitting between them while you do your own work.
If that doesn’t work – or if you can’t be in the same room with them for whatever reason – try the folder fort trick: divide their separate spaces with folders or books to create mini cubicles.
Adding a room
For those who are considering going all out and extending their home to create an additional workspace for their children, Goslett encourages them to make the room as versatile as possible.
“While demand for homes with a children’s workspace is likely to increase, it’s always better to keep the home as neutral as possible to appeal to the widest audience. To maximise the value added by such a renovation, homeowners should consider adding built-in storage space and should make all classroom fittings – items such as blackboards or desks – removable so that future buyers can use the space however they would prefer,” Goslett suggests.