6 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your At-Home Learning Environment

5 min to read
Young student in a yellow shirt and blue headphones taking a Live Lesson class.

Whether you’re new to online learning or have been immersed through your child’s enrollment in Connections Academy®, chances are you’ve created a learning space at home. But is it an effective learning environment for your student’s learning preference? And have you thought of ways to mix it up and make it fun?   

Below are six common mistakes to avoid when creating an effective learning environment:

Mistake 1: Learning space is distracting.

It’s important for your child to be able to focus on their learning when it’s time for school. As part of creating an optimal environment for learning, it’s imperative that you minimize potential distractions. It’s easy for young students to get drawn away from their schoolwork by things like: 

  • Siblings or caretakers making noise 
  • Access to a TV or other electronic devices 
  • Pets 

"One thing that helps me have an effective learning space is working at a desk," says Connections Academy student, Carson B. "I like sitting on the bed or couch, but I don’t focus as well even though it is more comfortable. Another tip is don’t have anything to distract you, like an electronic item except your computer. The last tip is to have a notebook and pencil so you can take notes from your lessons."

If possible, select a dedicated space in your home to set up as your student’s learning environment. Ideally, this space should have a desk with a comfortable chair, a door that closes, and is away from high-activity areas of the home. If you’re unable to reduce the noise in your child’s learning space, consider having them use noise-cancelling headphones to reduce external sounds.

Mistake 2: Not taking brain breaks.

You may think you’ve mastered creating a daily class schedule, but make sure you’ve scheduled time for brain breaks. All students need to reenergize their brains occasionally. Research has shown that regular brain breaks can increase focus and creativity. In fact, most Connections Academy families incorporate breaks into their daily schedules, as it has been proven critical to creating an effective learning environment for students of all ages.

Some ideas for brain breaks include playing a board game, going for a walk, or doing some quick exercises. Whatever it is, taking breaks throughout the day can make the workload seem less overwhelming and allow your child to fully focus when it’s time to do their lessons.

Mistake 3: School supplies are hidden or hard to reach.

When you’re creating a virtual learning space at home or updating your child’s current at-home learning environment, make sure school supplies are easy to access. Notebooks, pens, folders, and anything else your child needs for their lessons should be nearby so they can get it without asking for help. Keeping their supplies accessible helps to avoid disruptions when the sudden need arises for a highlighter or art supplies.

Some lessons will require less-commonly used supplies that aren’t within easy reach. Previewing lessons in advance can help your student stay ahead when these supplies are called for and minimize time spent searching for items during school time.

Mistake 4: Using the same space for all subjects.

A helpful at-home learning space idea is to use different areas in your home for different subjects. In a traditional in-person school setting, students relocate to other rooms for subjects like music and art. Why not try this in their at-home learning environment to encourage creativity and break up the day?

For example, you can set up a separate creative learning environment by moving art lessons to a different desk, allowing for more creativity and space for art supplies. Or, have a music session in a different room to help break up the last hour’s math class.

As another example, if the weather is nice, science or other lessons could be taken outside. Or a visit to a virtual museum based on the day’s history lesson could create some added learning enrichment. Whatever you do, it’s great to mix it up to help your child adapt to different types of learning environments.

An online school student creates an effective learning environment on her laptop.

Mistake 5: Not involving your student.

When you create a learning space at home, you have opportunities for personalization. Depending on your child’s learning preference, you might want to optimize the learning space based on their strengths and interests. 

For example, you may decide to hang maps and images for visual learners or make space for reading aloud with your student if they’re an auditory learner. For kinesthetic learners, you could have your student use a stability ball instead of a chair for short periods of time throughout their day.   

"Setting up an effective learning space is actually part of the FUN,” shares Learning Coach Melissa S. “In anticipation for the upcoming school year, we love to create a dedicated learning area with plenty of sunlight, a dry erase board, bulletin board, desk, bean bag chair for reading, and some inspirational framed prints or posters. It’s essential to make it a comfortable, positive atmosphere to make your student excited to be productive!"

These are all great factors to consider when establishing effective learning environments. And remember, an optimal environment for learning doesn’t need to be boring. Consider also decorating the space with your child’s favorite colors, books, and other items to cater the space to their interests, making it more exciting for them to spend time there. 

Mistake 6: Technology doesn’t connect or work well.

Technology that doesn’t work well causes frustration and delays in online learning. Creating space for your student’s computer, a printer, headset, and a webcam is integral to an effective learning environment, especially for Connections Academy learners.  

As a best practice, test your Internet connection to ensure minimal disruptions and ensure your child’s devices are charged up at the beginning of each day. It also helps to have plenty of outlets open for charging throughout the day and other equipment needs.   


Feel free to get creative and come up with your own at-home learning space ideas. You can always adjust as your child progresses throughout the school year.

Now that your child’s creative learning environment is set up, check out our Ultimate Back-to-School Guide for Learning Coaches to ensure your family is prepared for the year ahead. 

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