COVID-19 has forced many elementary schools to close. Physical classrooms and field trips to the zoo have been replaced with Zoom calls and watching videos of animals on YouTube.
While parents eagerly await for their kids' schools to reopen and communities return to some semblance of normalcy, children need functional learning spaces at home to carry on with their learning.
In this article, you'll learn about how to create an effective learning space for your children without spending a lot of money.
Almost all classrooms have a chalkboard. Teachers use them to explain topics and share notes with the class. Young students use chalkboards to practice writing, drawing, and reading.
Dry-erase boards are a great in-home substitute for a chalkboard. Also known as whiteboards, dry-erase boards are versatile and have many useful features. The smaller models can be easily mounted to a wall with a couple of nails making them perfect for the home.
Writing on a dry-erase board requires dry-erase markers. These markers are non-permanent and contain erasable ink that adheres to the board without being absorbed. They're easy to wipe off and can be quickly removed using an eraser, cloth, or paper towel.
Only use non-permanent markers on dry-erase boards. Place permanent markers in hard-to-reach places to ensure your children don't mistakenly use them on the dry-erase board.
A medium-sized dry-erase board, 12-pack of markers, and an eraser costs around $30. If you prefer not to mount it to your wall or you don't have enough wall space, some models are portable and come mounted on rollers for easy placement and storage.
Desks and Sitting Spaces
A desk is a must-have piece of furniture for an in-home classroom. Young children need a dedicated place to sit where they can attend web meetings, watch videos, and complete their writing exercises.
Buying a new desk is unnecessary. A coffee or kitchen table will work just fine as long as you have a chair that sits high enough for your child to work comfortably for up to an hour.
If your child prefers sitting on the floor, use pillows as cushions or consider buying a small bean bag. Bean bags can be purchased for less than $30 at Target, Walmart, and other big box stores.
If your child is easily distracted or you have multiple children sharing the same study space, room dividers can be the difference between learning and distraction.
Room dividers create personal space and sense of privacy. They're especially useful for sectioning off spaces for quizzes, tests, and coursework that requires focus.
While makeshift dividers can be created with items around the house like curtains, plants, and bookshelves, store-bought dividers can be more effective because they're specifically designed to partition spaces and block out distractions. They come in a variety of styles and price ranges with entry-level models starting at around $80.
While space dividers may cost more than other in-house classroom design items, they can have a big impact on your child's ability to learn at home.
Lights & Dimmers
Lighting that creates a well-illuminated area is essential for effective learning. But there's more to good lighting than brightness.
Teachers use different lighting schemes for specific reasons like creating a mood and promoting certain behavior.
Dimmers have benefits beyond controlling the brightness of lights. They can also save you money in the long run.
For example, turning on all lights is best for delivering a lesson. This is when the teacher needs the students' full attention and a well-lit room promotes focus.
Slightly dimming the lights is good for watching videos while dimming the lights way down is an effective way to quickly get a classrooms' attention and can have a calming effect. For example, when children immediately come back from recess with energy levels high.
Dimmers are an inexpensive way to create a lighting system with these capabilities. They're available at most hardware stores and can be purchased for under $20. Dimmers should always be installed by a licensed and experienced electrician.
Parents that suddenly have to repurpose home spaces and convert them to in-home classrooms quickly realize they need storage for books, computers, and accessories.
Storage cubes can be a great way to maximize the use of space in almost any room. Basic models are inexpensive, decorative, and stylish.
They can be used to store books, artwork, and storage bins. They come in a variety of finishes (solid and wood), blend nicely with any decor, and they can support a lot of weight.
Two-cube organizers cost about $30. Low-cost models are typically made of plywood or particleboard with a stylized outer layer.
Until schools reopen and our kids return to in-person classes, home-based learning areas will continue to be a big part of life. Having a good workspace is critical for effective learning and overall wellbeing. It doesn't take a big budget to build a classroom in the home, but it does take creativity and purpose... and nothing could be more important than educating our children.