While most back to school checklists include pencils, erasers, and notebooks, for online school families, getting ready for back to school also includes setting up a good home classroom space to prepare their student for a successful school year.
Even though every day is a little different in online school, students spend on average 4-6 hours each school day completing lessons and attending virtual classes. It’s important to design a learning space that is not only comfortable, but inspires their creativity, helps them stay focused, is appropriate for many types of learning activities, and is uniquely theirs.
Whether you are just transitioning to online school or you’re a veteran of virtual learning, here are some tips to help you create a fun home classroom for your online student. Download our Tips for Setting Up Your Home Classroom infographic:
How to Set Up a Home Classroom
Finding Space for Online Learning
One of the key things to consider as you set up a home classroom is how much space you have. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of space. You can still create an organized and inspiring home classroom by getting creative.
Your home classroom doesn’t even have to be a “room” —it can be a desk placed in the corner, under a loft bed, or even in a closet. To avoid clutter that can serve as a distraction, keep books and supplies neatly put away in desk drawers or unused cabinets to help stay organized.
Home Classroom Setup
You can also move around in online school! Using different areas of your space for different subjects invites creativity. You can even complete lessons outside, which offers the added benefits of experiential learning opportunities.
If you do have more than one student or are part of a learning pod with other online students, allow enough space so they can work without bumping elbows. If you don’t have a work surface that is large enough, a sturdy folding table that can be put away after online school is done for the day will do the trick.
Look for Sunlight
One thing to consider when setting up your home classroom should be how much natural light the space receives. Sunlight triggers cortisol levels to rise and affects student’s general emotional and physical well-being, which can positively influence their ability to learn. Sunlight can also combat the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can improve your student’s overall mental health. One note of caution: when positioning your student's computer monitor, be sure to check for sun glare against the screen.
When finding the right space for your home classroom, look for a place with minimal distractions. Studying by the front door or next to a busy laundry room may not be ideal for your student—but repurposing an attic, spare bedroom, or seldom-used dining room would work nicely.
If a high-traffic area for your home classroom is your only option, consider investing in a portable room divider to limit visual distractions and help your student focus.
Choose Your Technology
Online learning does require some technology equipment. As you set up your home classroom in preparation for your student going back to online school, check that your student’s computer has the latest software updates. If you are using a laptop, consider investing in one or more computer monitors to help avoid neck and eye strain. Hooking your student’s computer up to a second monitor allows them to see multiple screens at once, enabling them to work efficiently while taking notes, writing papers, and much more.
Equipping your home classroom with a printer can boost productivity. Some students may find it easier to do assignments on paper. Having a printer also helps when doing crafts and other hands-on learning projects.
You may even consider adding a smart television to your home classroom setup. Although TV can be a distraction, viewing online lessons on a larger television screen may increase your student’s engagement. You can also use a television to play educational videos for your child as an additional learning resource. Just be sure your student understands that during the online school day, the TV is off-limits unless it's for educational use!
Find the Right Furniture
Although the furniture you choose to include in your home classroom will be determined by the area's space and your budget, be sure to consider ergonomics as well. In order to be comfortable and promote good posture, furniture should fit your child now and be adjustable to allow for growth. Some online school students find stand-up desks to be a great choice.
If you have a limited area, consider furniture that can serve multiple functions or as storage pieces that can be rolled into a closet. Another excellent choice is furniture that is designed with a small "footprint" because it uses vertical space, such as a combined desk and bookshelf.
Personalize the Space
Once you have chosen your home classroom space, it’s important to personalize it for your student to help them feel comfortable and excited to learn. If you have a corkboard, add motivational messages that inspire them and help them know you are there for them on their online learning journey. Add other personal items, such as a trophy or certificate they received.
While it is important for online students to have a home classroom space, remember, one of the wonderful advantages of virtual school is that students have the flexibility to learn while gathered around the kitchen table—or while on the road! With an imaginative approach and organization skills, your student will embrace their online learning journey.
For more tips on setting up your home classroom, here are mistakes to avoid when creating your student’s learning environment.