Easy ways to prep your home for home schooling
As we approach another round of home schooling, use these handy tips and ideas to organise your home and create classrooms in your living rooms
With a large number of children (and parents) once again having to get used to the challenge that is home schooling, here are some useful solutions to help everyone settle in for a new term of remote learning from the kitchen table. Just plan a quick inset day – or hour – to get everything sorted, then you can hit the ground running…
Recreate the familiar
Create a home classroom with child-friendly furniture, such as a low-level table-and-chair set. This can be easily moved out of the way when your living, dining or kitchen space needs to function as normal. Place near to your own desk if you're working from home, so you can help supervise that colouring-in session while you mute your Zoom call. Try to recreate areas around your ‘classroom’, such as a learning table, a reading corner or space for free play. Nursery and pre-school children are used to being able to drift from one activity to the next, as and when they get bored.
Verity Coleman, interior designer and mum of two, is using her dining table to homeschool her five and seven-year olds. ‘As the table is quite wide, it means we can spread out their stationery and bits in front of them. It’s working quite well as there’s still room for me to help them. I’ve hung matching tote bags on the backs of their chairs to keep all of their work in as it was getting quite muddled.’ Verity’s bags are like the work trays or hooks your child would be familar with from school – so kids know where ‘their’ things live.
Create a reading corner
Of course, it’s not all about learning at a desk. Setting up a quiet space, where you can share a favourite book together or somewhere they can sit and read on their own, can help to restore calm. Go for squashy bean bags, an oversized floor cushion or a throw on the sofa that they’ve always loved. Stack books in a book tidy or on a table, where they can browse – you could even set up a library corner, arranging books by author or theme, such as dinosaurs or mermaids. ‘Make sure your library corner is low-level,’ says interior stylist Laurie Davidson. ‘You’ll encourage browsing while nurturing that love of books.’ Set aside time to visit your ‘library’ each day, or even download and listen to a story together through one of the many apps.
When art attacks; organise it
Finding the stash of paper, paint, pens and glitter taking over your home? Get that art kit in order. Go for clear plastic tubs, where you can see everything at a glance and stack to make the most of a shelf, while an art caddy with essential supplies allows you to change from literacy to art as the inspiration hits. Protect your home too, with an old fabric sheet that you can use to cover the table with, while a painting apron for preschoolers is a must.
Save pieces of coloured cardboard, newspapers and kitchen roll tubes, keeping them under control and out of sight in a tote bag, while document wallets or plastic sleeves are a must for stickers and smaller bits and pieces, such as sheets of googly eyes.
Make space for the pre-teens
Even if your pre-teen already has a desk in their bedroom, you'll be expecting them to be working for longer periods and you might need to create another dedicated space, where a) you can support them, b) they can be company for each other, and c) you can limit other temptations, such as TVs and tablets. A separate desk in your kitchen-diner or living room might be the answer – if you have the space.
‘Set up a workspace somewhere other than their bedroom (if possible) so that they can still use their room for play, and you can draw a clear line between school and home life,’ says Heather Young, a magazine editor and mum to 10-year-old twins. Heather suggests making use of a nook to create a desk area: ‘We extended a windowsill by sitting a piece of board on top so that it had an overhang for the kids to sit at. You could also do a similar thing with a trestle table and legs.’
For Heather, it was important that the new classroom matched its surrounding décor: ‘As the kids’ workspace is at the end of our living room I painted their old chairs (like the Danchairs) in grey, so that they toned in with the rest of our our neutral scheme.’
When it comes to storage, Heather went for something portable: ‘At school, my kids have their own trays in which they stash their exercise books, etc. I’ved use a drawer unit on casters to create a similar set up – they have a drawer each, with the extra ones used to store paper, pens and their tablets when not in use.’
Image: Getty Images