Back to School: Creating At-Home Learning Spaces That Help Your Kids Stay Organized and Engaged

Brian Hogan
Aug 7, 2020 1:48:34 PM

For most families with school-aged children, August is usually an action-packed month filled with last-minute trips, lots of quality family time, and preparations for the upcoming school year.

Study Nook by Hogan Design & Construction

Study Nook by Hogan Design & Construction

This year, however, as we head into the fifth month of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the customary late-August return to school is shaping up to be something entirely different. 

The pandemic is an ever-evolving public health crisis that’s transformed most aspects of daily life, redefining what it means to keep our community safe while maintaining as much normalcy as possible. 

As part of that “new normal,” most grade-schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers will be participating in a fully remote experience or a hybrid of both online and in-person learning for at least the first half of the school year. 

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, take a deep breath — there’s a lot you can do to keep your kids engaged as they learn from home, starting with how you organize your space. Here are a few tips and tricks from the team at Hogan Design & Construction:

Setting Up The Main Work Area

When it comes to creating an optimal learning environment/experience for your kid(s) at home, the first piece of the remote schooling puzzle is designating the main work area, or the place your children will sit for their online lessons and do much of their homework.  

Depending on your space, your child’s main work area could be their own desk in a bedroom or shared home office, a built-in desk in the kitchen, or simply the kitchen table — all that matters is that the space is as comfortable and conducive to learning as possible.   

If you have more than one remote learner in your home, find separate work areas for each. As a general rule of thumb, younger students should be set up in a more central location such as the kitchen, while older kids may do best in a quieter space like their own bedroom.  

Kitchen by Hogan Design & Construction

Kitchen by Hogan Design & Construction

Create a Command Center

It can be helpful if your child is able to store their laptop and school supplies on, in, or near their main work area, but that’s not always a feasible option — especially when a workspace pulls double duty as the dinner table. 

To solve this piece of the remote learning space puzzle, take a cue from the typical elementary school classroom, and create your own command center.  

Much like the front of an elementary school classroom — with its calendar, weekly goals, and daily assignments — your command center provides a way to help you organize your young learners and help them stay on task.  

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Your command center may be near your child’s main work area, or, if you have more than one student, in a central location like the kitchen. Ideally, you should have enough shelf, drawer, or bin space to store your kids’ laptops and supplies separately. It’s also helpful to have a dedicated wall space where your young learners can visualize their day. 

It’s easy to create a command center — just hang a chalkboard, whiteboard, or bulletin board over a small bookshelf, cabinet, credenza, or any available piece of furniture that provides easy access and sufficient, organized storage space.   

Establish a Reading Zone

Reading is a vital component of learning for all kids, no matter what grade they’re in. Given that increased screen time has become an unintended side effect of the “new pandemic normal” for many families, it’s more important than ever to find ways to make reading less of a chore and more of a joy for reluctant readers.  

Giving your kids a comfortable, cozy reading zone that they want to spend time in is just as important as giving them a place to set their laptops. If possible, find a designated reading spot that’s outside of their bedroom.

Your child’s reading zone could be a sunny corner of a quiet living room, sitting on a bunch of cushy floor pillows; it could also be a built-in window seat where they can read and watch the world go by. With the right lighting, even a simple pod chair can become a one-of-a-kind reading nook.      

Just make sure your reading zone is well-stocked — but not overwhelmed — with books. This screen-free zone is all about books, including audiobooks, if that’s what it takes to connect your child to a story and activate a different part of their brain for a while. 

If you are looking to renovate a space to meet your changing needs, Hogan Design & Construction’s designers, carpenters, and project managers are ready to help. Learn more about our process and contact us today to get started. 

For more home-related tips from HDC, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also read about our COVID-19 action plan here.