Interior design is about creating inviting spaces that family and friends will love spending time in. It’s an endeavor best tackled when you have ample time for planning and as little stress as possible. That is, the opposite of a global pandemic.
Still, as any good interior designer knows, changing the space around you has a significant impact on how you feel and what you can achieve.
Anything you can do to make homeschooling during coronavirus easier is worth doing! There’s no universal setup that’s best for children of all grade levels, but there are interior design principles you can utilize to establish a functional and motivational homeschool space for your kids.
You just have to remember three basic principles: function, mood, and personality.
Function: First things first
The goal is to create an environment that nurtures learning, boosts concentration, and minimizes stress. That means you’ll need the same core things for your homeschool space that you set up for your home office: a flat surface, comfortable seating, and good lighting.
Every time I have a new project, I make a list of the basics that my clients need in their space before even considering aesthetics. For setting up a homeschool space, it’s five simple things.
When kids are uncomfortable, they fidget, making it more difficult for them to concentrate. Whether it’s cushions on the floor, or a stool at the kitchen counter, make sure they’re comfortable enough to sit for the length of a lesson.
*A gorgeous task chair from MDD Furniture found on https://haute-living.com/products/ultra-chair
The surface they work on has to be proportional to their size. You want them to be able to sit up with good posture (as much as possible) so that when they do sit still, their position promotes their health.
Whether they’re reading a book, using a computer, or writing by hand, you want to make sure you have an adjustable source of light nearby so that their eyes don’t strain.
*Metal Desk Lamp from Pier 1.
Organization is key to making homeschooling work. Realistically, we’re all living with more clutter than we’d like right now, but making time to pick up as a family can help keep us sane and feeling more in control during an uncertain time.
Interior designers have a checklist of life-saving things that hide clutter: hooks, shelves, bins, baskets, crates, and furniture with doors and drawers. You can repurpose any of these things that you already have into your child’s school supply storage. It’s okay to hide your winter clothes in the back of the closet right now and use your storage solutions for items you’re now using daily.
Remember cubbies? They’re genius. It’s a good idea to have something at home that’s as close to a cubby or locker as possible. That way, your kids will have everything they need nearby and clean-up will be easy. If possible, it’s worth it to invest in an organizer such as a bookshelf with baskets or bins. But again, don’t be afraid to repurpose!
Your child’s school most likely sent you a list of resources or provided learning materials. Besides those books, it’s good to have handy paper, flashcards, stickers, pencils, pens, highlighters, calculators, sticky notes, scissors, and rulers. Round up what you have in the house and bring it all together.
*A kids’ space we are currently working on. We added cubbies to the wall for storing pens, pencils, markers, etc.
Mood: Make it Motivating
The best rooms inspire us to take on the task at hand. Whether it’s an art studio that motivates you to paint, a kitchen that makes it easy to clean up after dinner, or a window nook constructed for reading, properly designed spaces help us mentally. Setting up a homeschool space is all about creating an area that’s as conducive as possible for your children’s education.
You want your kids to be able to focus when doing assignments, concentrate when reading, and feel inspired during craft time. In an ideal world, your house has enough room to have separate spaces for each task: a desk in a separate area for them to complete individual assignments, a comfy reading nook with pillows, and a communal space for group activities where kids can sprawl out and create.
In reality, homeschooling during coronavirus will likely take place at a tabletop in the kitchen or on the living room floor. That’s okay!
The most important thing you can do is involve your kids. Ask them questions to determine what helps them learn best and use their input to determine how to set up their homeschool space. What do they miss about school? What does their favorite teacher do?
There’s no need to go on a shopping spree, but if it’s possible, decorating the wall with maps, posters of their favorite fictional characters, or whiteboards can help motivate your kids. The simplest, most motivating decor is their own assignments and artwork!
Personality: Add accessories
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for setting up a homeschool space, but that’s a good thing! Depending on your kids’ ages, needs, and personalities, your homeschool area (like their bedrooms) will look different. That’s where aesthetics come in.
What do your kids like? Do they love nature? Elsa everywhere? Let them help decorate by choosing accessories. Again, it’s not necessary to shop for new things, but if it’s possible, getting colorful pens, desk organizers, and accents that reflect their favorite colors and characters will help kids adjust to homeschooling.
The cool thing about learning from home is that they’re comfortable. Younger kids can bring their favorite toys and older kids can play (non-distracting) music. They can wear capes, or they can wear sweats. I came across a USA Today article describing kids who claimed places like the dog bed and the bathtub to do their school work! If it works for them, it works.
Homeschool with Heart
The best thing you can do during this time is to be flexible and positive. Our kids are looking to us in these confusing times, so we can help make homeschooling easier with a can-do attitude.
Activities like making forts for reading time can help them miss school and their classmates a little bit less. Grab a colorful rug from another room and use it for story time. Bring in a lamp, lots of pillows, and make reading time fun!
Remember, just like your home office setup isn’t a perfect replica of your work office, your homeschooling area doesn’t need to look like a classroom! Being creative right now is a fun way to give all of our minds a break.