Homeschooling – it takes on a totally different meaning this year, doesn’t it? And, although I can’t speak for you, but what we did in the spring just didn’t feel real. For my kids (5th and 8th grades last year), there was very little accountability from the district, all of their classes were pass/fail and my only goal was ‘peace.’ This year, grades count, I'm told the teachers will hold the kids accountable for assignments and my goal is for us as a family is to find a way to thrive and for my kids to actually learn, despite everything going against us.
My kids will start our district’s version of online education on Monday, August 31 so I’m currently in the phase of reading emails from the district, principles and individual teachers as they filter in and I find myself constantly reassuring my children, husband and myself that it’s all going to be ok. I remind myself several times a day how grateful I am that my husband and I have the flexibility in our schedules to support them when they need it. I know I am lucky.
All of that said, I certainly have not waited until the last minute to prepare my kids for scholarly success. As an organizer who has helped plenty of homeschooling parents (before, during and God-willing there will be an ‘after’ Covid), I know that one’s environment can make or break us, so I’ve been checking some things off of my list for each of my children.
Here are four basic areas that each parent or caregiver will want to focus on to ensure their child gets off to a solid start.
1. A place for Zoom calls with good WiFi and an electrical outlet. You want to create an environment that’s free from distractions when they’re doing their video calls with their class. Also, be sure to test your WiFi in that exact area several days before the first Zoom call and adjust as necessary. And please, make sure that cords are not an issue. The last thing you need is a trip to the ER because someone broke an ankle tripping over an extension cord. No joke, friends.
2. A permanent, flat surface for your kid to work. Ideally, this will be the same place where the Zoom calls occur but if not, that’s ok. This can be in a higher-traffic area, as some people work better with a little noise in the background (my husband is one of them, I am learning to be). If, however, your child needs silence to work, be sure that this area matches that.
3. A place for supplies - think everything from pens and pencils to a calculator and tissues. Additionally, not every kid does their school work at a proper, stationary desk where supplies can be kept permanently. If your child tends to migrate, working in different areas depending on their mood and/or the specific work they have to do, then purchase one of those travel caddies with handles so he can just grab the caddy and have what he needs.
4. A space for books, bulkier items or more subject-specific/less frequently used items. This should be a fairly set place but doesn’t have to be in the same place as other supplies. Think of this like the student’s homeroom desk or locker, where they retrieve and put back their needed items.
The location of these four basic necessities depends on how your home is laid-out but, in my opinion, it is best that these areas not be in the student’s bedroom, at least not all of them. I say this for two main reasons. First, if the primary purpose of the room is for sleeping, then your student will already have that ingrained into his or her mind and body. This will make study and learning time even more difficult. Additionally, if you start to put vigorous mental activity plus the physical reminders of that activity in the room, that could likewise affect sleep patterns. If possible, allow a sleeping area to be for sleeping and a work area to be for work.
Second, my opinion is that our kids are already spending enough time in their bedrooms during this pandemic. Getting them out of their rooms and moving even from room to room will help keep them from getting in a rut or mental fog. They’ll need every opportunity they can to get up and move, be exposed to different lighting and air, and see other people and things. We’re grasping at straws here, friends, and every little bit counts.
All in all, these are difficult times, friends, no doubt about it. And for parents and caregivers, it’s especially difficult with the combined responsibilities of work, home and children. There is no perfect solution, unfortunately, but there are steps we can all take to set everyone on surer footing. Following these guidelines for our children and using our intuition on what will work best for them is truly the best we can give them. I wish you all luck and peace as we transition into this nutty 20-21 school year.
Aubrei Krummert is a Certified Professional Organizer in Athens, Ohio. She specializes in Home Productivity and works with clients across the United States, doing on-site and virtual sessions. Contact her now.
You can find this and other articles from Aubrei at yourtango.com