Updated: Dec 17, 2020
One of the most asked questions from our Neat Little Nest followers in recent weeks has been around the concept of e-learning from home. Not only the "how to" of helping kids master a whole new skill set (no doubt they will catch on faster than many of us adults), but also around creating comfortable e-learning spaces in our homes.
As many families are faced with e-learning from home for the next month or more, establishing a positive learning environment suitable for your particular home space is crucial. An inviting environment that is conducive for e-learning not only includes a physical setting, but it also encompasses how a child feels or responds to a setting.
Creating a designated spot, providing routine and removing clutter no matter where child/ren are spending their hours e-learning makes them feel safe. With all that is going on globally with the coronavirus pandemic, these considerations can help ensure their minds can most effectively focus on their e-learning tasks.
create + dedicate a space for learning
Having a dedicated and distraction-free space for each child where they can spend their time on e-learning is ideal. Since we're not living in an ideal world right now, the primary goal becomes making your child's e-learning experience the best you can with what you have to work with at home.
Some older children may already have a desk or area reserved for doing homework that can now serve its purpose longer term. If not, you might have an extra bedroom, den, nook or alcove in your home that was just waiting to be put to use and could easily be converted into an e-learning environment for your child/ren. For many of you, this option is not a viable one and you might need to use a common space, like a kitchen table for your at-home learning environment. For younger children, setting up a feasible space that allows parents to supervise (and still work-from-home) is key.
The biggest goal for your child's e-learning space is to create the space with them, for them. By involving your children in creating a solution and asking them how they think they would learn best, innately lends itself to a more collaborative effort where everyone's personal needs are a priority.
have learning items within reach
It's important for your student to have all of the necessary tools to learn like pens, pencils, calculators, notebooks, electronic devices, books and the like within reach.
If your child is able to sit at a desk, you have the luxury of using drawer dividers to organize desk drawers with everything they need. If a desk and drawers are not an option, you can consider using a magazine file or a simple bin to organize those items - even a shoe box will do. On great way to keep your child's learning items within reach is to have them store everything they need inside of their backpack.
If your children have a lot of electronic items, one way to corral them is to use a grid they can pull in and out of their backpack or drawer. You could also consider a wall outlet charging shelf to give iPads and phones a home and get them off the floor.
get comfortable with their e-learning platform
It is important for both the parent and the student to know and get comfortable with the e-learning platform that the student will be using. If you feel intimidated learning new technology, just lean in and be patient with yourself. Take your time, but don't give up. It is critical that you as a parent are able to help your children trouble shoot if the technology platform presents challenges.
In addition to learning the e-learning platform, it is important for the parent and the student to get familiar with the other tools and services available to them. Learning new things is innately not easy but doing so can also be very rewarding. When parents show a lot of patience and grace as they learn new things, they are modeling those behaviors for their children.
establish a routine
There is much research that supports how routines help children thrive. It gives them a sense of security and helps them develop self-discipline. This is especially true in uncertain times. Small routines like family breakfast or dinner can do a lot to provide kids with some safety and security.
I recommend embracing a routine rather than adhering to a strict schedule. A routine has similar steps in a somewhat similar order like eating breakfast, getting dressed and prepping your mind for the day, but allows for flexibility so that you are not racing the clock which can lead to unnecessary tension and stress.
Want to learn more about my favorite routines, here is a Neat Little Nest post I wrote earlier this year on the power of routines.
teach them how to organize/plan their day
Just like adults, children benefit with a little foresight. The more that parents and children can visualize what they need to focus on during the day and for the week, the smoother the week will go. Teaching your children the skill of planning their day and week, especially at a young age, will help them learn valuable life skills.
For a learning space to be most effective, your child would be in a space where distractions are minimized. This starts with a clutter-free space and continues all the way to ensure that there is no audible distractions like television near their space.
Like everything in life, there is no one style fits all approach to an e-learning environment. You need to consider your family’s specific needs as well as each individual child’s learning style. As we all contend with the changes to our lives as a result of COVID-19, the need for great amounts of flexibility in all areas of our lives is warranted and that carries over as we strive to optimize for our kid's new normal of e-learning.
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